7/29 We drove west to Croscombe, an ancient village, dating back to 706 AD. (My initiation to driving on the left and making turns via roundabouts.) We are just an hour and a half drive over the River Severn to Cardiff, Wales, the ancestral home of my paternal lineage. I had booked a hotel in Cardiff, but second thoughts prompted me to tailor my ambitions and cancel the reservation.
In 1913, suffragists from Cardiff participated in the Great Pilgrimage, organized by the nonmilitant National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. Dramatic events were a hallmark of both the British and American suffrage movements, and the Great Pilgrimage was extraordinary. For six weeks, groups of women and many men, including some Americans, walked along six main routes leading from north, south, east and west to London to attend a massive rally in Hyde Park on July 26th. They traveled by foot, in a car or carriage, on a horse or a bicycle, some for a few days, or a week or more. Many walked the distance to London. They were peaceful, even when greeted with hostility, holding meetings along the way, explaining why women needed the vote. More than 50,000 people attended the rally in Hyde Park, where nineteen platforms were set up for a revolving list of suffrage speakers.
Two things happened on the way to Croscombe. First, I decided not to take a side trip to Duncton to visit Florence de Fonblanque’s grave. She was the originator of the suffrage hike from Edinburgh to London in October 1912—a fact that she had carved on her headstone that reads: “Originator and leader of the women’s suffrage march from Edinburgh to London, 1912.” In America, two months after Fonblanque’s hike, Rosalie Gardner Jones, known as General Jones, led a suffrage hike from New York City to Albany. The second thing that happened on the way to Croscombe is that we got lost, only to discover Avebury,
The pictures are an awesomely beautiful tree and a section of the henge in Avebury. As for the pillar, or “cross,” it was a central meeting place in Croscombe for villagers. Terri, the owner of the Cross at Croscombe, an inn in a building dating back to 1456, told us the story of how, many, many years ago the village leaders’ attempt to cut down the cross was foiled by the women who encircled it until the men were summoned from the field with their scythes and sickles. Terri showed us the one gash the leaders managed to inflict before the women arrived!