Statue of Emmeline Pankhurst granted Grade II* listed status
The change acknowledges how important Pankhurst was to the fight for women’s suffrage, ministers said.
A statue of pioneering suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst has been upgraded to Grade II* listed status to mark the end of the centenary of women being granted the vote.
The change – which gives the Westminster statue greater protection from being altered, relocated or demolished – acknowledges how important Pankhurst was to the fight for women’s suffrage, ministers said.
Women over the age of 30 were granted the right to vote in 1918 following the passing of the Representation of the People Act.
In 1919, Lady Nancy Astor became the first woman elected to Parliament.
Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel played a pivotal role in the campaign for women’s suffrage through the founding of the militant Women’s Social and Politics Union (WSPU) in 1903.
Earlier this year, plans were tabled to relocate the statue but were dropped after a public outcry.
Heritage Minister Michael Ellis said: “Emmeline Pankhurst was a pioneer of her time and was instrumental in securing votes for women.
“It is a fitting tribute that at the end of this centenary year we recognise the important role she played in securing the equality we rightly enjoy today.”
Born in Manchester in 1858, Pankhurst first campaigned for married women to be allowed to vote in local elections through the Women’s Franchise League which she founded in 1889.
She went on to found the much more radical 1903 WSPU which earned notoriety for its tactics including breaking windows in important buildings, arson of empty buildings and cutting phone lines.
Pankhurst was arrested multiple times and engaged in hunger strikes.
The statue was unveiled on March 30 1930 by then-prime minister Stanley Baldwin.
It was moved to its current position overlooking Parliament and was adapted to include a bronze profile of her daughter Christabel, also an active Suffragette, in 1959.
An inscription also commemorates the many other members of the WSPU.
In 1970, the statue was granted Grade II listed status.
Deborah Mays, of Historic England, the body tasked with protecting buildings and monuments of national importance, said: “The statue is a tribute to Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst who were instrumental in bringing about women’s suffrage in Britain.
“It is a finely crafted memorial in a significant location which bears witness to the struggle and success of the movement Pankhurst led.
“It is fitting to give it a higher grade listing at the end of this centenary year.”
Pankhurst is one of a small number of women whose statues have been given Grade II* listed status – others include Queen Victoria, Lady Godiva and the Virgin Mary.