Imprisoned Suffragette Honoured with a Blue Plaque


Three prominent Bristol City Councillors, Helen Holland, Nicola Beech and Asher Craig, will unveil a Blue Plaque at HMP Bristol (Horfield Prison) on Friday 1st October.

The plaque is for Theresa Garnett, a Suffragette who was imprisoned in 1909 in Horfield after she attacked Winston Churchill with a whip at Temple Meads Station. The plaque is connected to an education project which is using art to explore this history.

The project has been led by Emma Lilwall, artist and fine art lecturer from Weston College’s prison-based Education Department. Emma has been working with male prisoners to explore suffrage and women’s rights. The arts project explored the history of the Suffragettes who were imprisoned in Horfield. This led to the creation of a mural on the wall leading to the prison wing in which the women were held, in collaboration with feminist Bristol based street artist Rozalita. Theresa Garnett’s story has also inspired creative writing workshops and a T shirt design competition. Their work, and more, will be published by Bristol Museum Service on their ‘Stories’ website.

Bristol Civic Society is putting the Blue Plaque on the old prison gate which is visible to the public from Cambridge Road. We believe this is the first Blue Plaque to be placed on a working prison.

Emma Lilwall said “it has been a privilege to create such a powerful educational project engaging with historical issues which are very relevant today. Equality for women remains a very pressing issue; and connecting male prisoners with this history has provoked transformative discussion and inspirational creative responses”.

Dr Paul Phillips CBE, Principal and Chief Executive for Weston College said that “the project which Emma has created is a great example of how education can make a difference to these learners and support them in their rehabilitation back into the community and to equip them to find sustainable employment on release.”

Lori Streich from Bristol Civic Society said that “Bristol Civic Society is pleased to support the installation of this plaque, and the education project behind it. Blue Plaques aim to inspire curiosity and discussion, and this is exemplified by Theresa Garnett’s story, and the actions she took to achieve women’s right to vote.”