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Women's History

Women's immense contribution to society has often been made invisible by a historic lack of social status and confinement to the home. The social, political and architectural history imprinted in the buildings around us has, in previous centuries, largely been recorded as the story of man.

However, women's achievements and experience have left a deep impression on the historic environment. Once exposed, this can help to fill in the gaps left by previous generations' recording of history to reveal a host of fascinating and inspirational stories.

  • Mary Macarthur addressing a crowd in Trafalgar Square in 1908.

    Visible in Stone

    Women's History through Buildings 1850-1950 - partnership project between English Heritage, The Women's Library and the TUC Library Collection at LMU.

  • Soldiers and nurses gathered together in the garden of Great Dixter, Northiam, East Sussex.

    Maritime Women

    Among the 37,000 shipwrecks recorded around the coast are stories showing female involvement in wreck events, a rich seam of social history.

  • Brougham Castle, Cumbria. The outer gatehouse, keep and hall.

    Lady Anne Clifford's story

    The fascinating story of Anne Clifford is known through her diaries and can be told through several historic places.

  • Black and white photo of 'C' wing of Holloway Prison from the north.

    The Struggle for Suffrage

    The struggle for women's suffrage was a campaign which began in the drawing rooms of London and Manchester in the mid 19th century.

  • Babies being weighed in the reception room of an infants hospital in 1908.

    Women and Healthcare

    These pages are an introduction to some remarkable buildings which illuminate the roles of women in healthcare.

  • Looking along a gravel path towards the south range of the St Peter's Convent, with four nuns standing in the distance.

    Nuns and Convent Building

    The Catholic Relief Act of 1829 lifted an injunction on convents in place since the reformation and set the stage for a boom in convent building.

  • Dusty hats sit forgotten inside Boon and Lane Ltd, a blockmakers in Luton.

    Women in the Luton Hatting and Plaiting Industries

    A look at the importance of female labour within the Luton hatting industry.

  • Women working at cunard shell works

    Buildings that Celebrate Working Women

    Listed buildings tell us the story of working women at the forefront of a fascinating period of social and technological change.

  • Black and white portrait of suffragette Annie Kenney

    Eagle House and the Suffragettes' Trees

    The story of Eagle House, near Bath, and the trees planted there by suffragettes recovering from hunger strike.

  • A semi-circle of yew hedging with niches containing statuary and sphinxes.

    Women Celebrated by Registered Parks and Gardens

    Determined women have seized the opportunity provided by gardens to assert their independence and to create living, lasting monuments.

  • Cricket team of Newnham College Cambridge, 1908 with suffragist, Ray Strachey, centre.

    Links and Articles

    Find out more about women’s history and the built environment with the resources in this section.

  • Women using the large card index cabinet in the premises of the medical mailing company in Ealing, 1960 - 1970

    Carry Out Your Own Research: How to Search Databases

    Find out more about Women's History or about buildings or places linked to women by searching the Historic England Archive.

  • A class on boiling fish at the Clapham Cookery Centre, Tennyson Street, London, c.1890-1905.

    Glossary

    Definition of terms used throughout Women's History section.