Blue plaque bid for Suffragette Constance Andrews on Ipswich’s Arlington’s Brasserie

Constance Andrews pictured with Trades Union Congress colleagues in 1911.

Constance Andrews pictured with Trades Union Congress colleagues in 1911. - Credit: Archant

Suffragette Constance Andrews could be honoured on the front of an Ipswich building in which she held a protest during the early 1900s.

Arlington's in Ipswich.

Arlington's in Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

An application has been submitted to Ipswich Borough Council to get permission to add a blue commemorative plaque to Arlington’s Brasserie in Museum Street, bearing the words: “Constance Andrews, social reformer and suffragette led Votes for Women protest here”.

The idea was put forward by the Ipswich Women’s Festival Group and it is the first move in a pledge to immortalise around half a dozen influential women in the town.

Only two of around 20 blue plaques that mark historically significant figures in Ipswich are dedicated to women.

Group member Joy Bounds said: “Often the contribution of women to the town isn’t known about as much as more famous men but that doesn’t mean they didn’t make a big contribution in terms of social reform, academic subjects, literature, politics and so on.

“They should be remembered and sit alongside their more famous men.”

In 1911 the Ipswich branch of the Women’s Freedom League, led by Constance Andrews, hired out what was then called the Old Museum Rooms on Census night to stage a boycott.

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Around 20 to 30 women spent the night there to avoid filling out their Census forms in protest at their lack of say in the government.

Ms Bounds said: “The reason why it was quite remarkable was that in 1911 when women’s lives were so restricted – we could hardly believe how restricted – these 20-odd women went out and spent the night in what was then an office-type room.

“They had some of their supportive husbands who guarded the door in case anyone tried to assault them, but even so it was an act of civil disobedience and it would have seemed very risky and brave to do.

“Constance seemed to me to be a very motivational Suffragette; she inspired this group of women and she was absolutely committed to the cause of votes for women.”

Ipswich Women’s Festival Group also plans to get blue plaques for the first female mayor of Ipswich, Mary Whitmore; archeologist Nina Layard; adventuress and chronicler Margaret Catchpole; illustrator Margaret Tempest; and the first headmistress of Ipswich High School for Girls, Sophie Youngman.