English Heritage, the UK charity which acts as a caretaker for historic monuments across the nation, have pushed to recognise more inspirational women from history with the latest release of blue plaques. These iconic plaques commemorate the lives of influential figures from history, and have aimed to capture the lives of more female historical figures with the recent batches. Here are the women and their achievements being recognised with six new blue plaques.
While her birth name was Krystyna Skarbek, born a Polish countess, she became a naturalised resident of the UK and went on to become the first and longest-serving female British Special Operations Executive (SOE) during WW2. During her time as a British spy, she escaped Nazi-occupied Poland on skis with the original evidence of Operation Barbarossa - detailing the German invasion plans of the Soviet Union. Granville's skills and results are credited as a major influence for recruiting more women to British Special Operations, with her plaque to be placed outside the hotel in west London near our Kensington Row development where she had lived for three years prior to her death in 1952.
Noor Inayat Khan
Khan was another key female operative for British Special Operations during WW2, recognised as the first female wireless operator to be sent overseas into occupied France in order to aid the French resistance movement. She was posthumously awarded the George Cross for her heroic service, the highest civilian decoration in the UK, having been executed at Dachau concentration camp in 1944. Her service as a British Muslim war heroine is well-deserving of a blue plaque, which will be placed near her home in Bloomsbury.
Born 1903 in Wakefield, Yorkshire, Barbara Hepworth was a world-renowned British sculptor who's legacy can be seen in galleries all over, including the Hepworth Gallery dedicated to her memory. Hepworth was a pioneering figure in the international arts scene across five different decade, with the creative pieces created throughout her career exploring the intricate relationships between humans and landscapes. Barbara Hepworth's plaque will commemorate both herself and her first husband at their shared flat in St John's Wood - less than half an hour's walk from our West End Gate development.
Dame Helen Gwynne-Vaughan
Going all the way back to the First World War, Dame Gwynne-Vaughn was instrumental in the leadership of various forces and helped to form the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. Dame Helen's efforts also laid the foundations for all modern iterations of the women's air services, helping to widen the scope of the role of women within the armed forces. Not only did this all see her appointment as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1919, but she kept all of this up while maintaining a second career as a botanist! Dame Gwynne-Vaughan's blue plaque will be place on her flat in Bedford Court Mansions in Bloomsbury where she lived for almost 50 years.
National Union of Women's Suffrage
As one of the most influential organisations in recent memory, it makes sense that the National Union of Women's Suffrage and the associated suffragists receive a blue plaque in honour of their fight towards women's rights to vote. Led by Millicent Fawcett, they went about their protests and demonstrations peacefully and legally, eventually renaming in 1919 as the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship with their headquarters being located in Westminster where their plaque will reside.
Women's Social and Political Union
The other side of the women's suffrage movement were the Women's Social and Political Union and the suffragettes, who took a more staunch political stand and acted in a more militant way to achieve the vote for women in the UK. Emmeline Pankhurst led the suffragettes and carefully controlled their activity alongside her daughters. Their civil disobedience and hunger strikes made a massive impact on the public and, together with the efforts of the suffragists, fought for the vote. The blue plaque commemorating the work of the suffragettes will also reside on the buildings which were once their headquarters.
These new blue plaques help to even up the representation of women within English Heritage's commemorative work and show impactful women have been throughout history in the UK. If you're interested in finding out more about the plaques then take a look at the English Heritage site, and to discover which of our properties in London are close by you can take a look at all of our London developments.
Header Image via english-heritage.org.uk