Grace Kimmins – Suffragette or Suffragist?

New book

Read the fascinating story of Grace Kimmins, from her social work in the Bermondsey slums in the 1890s, the founding of her unique craft school for disabled boys in Chailey, Sussex in 1903, through two World Wars, to the takeover of Chailey Heritage by the NHS in 1948.


Before Grace set up her craft school for disabled boys at Chailey, in Sussex, in 1903, she had been working as a Sister of the People at the West London Mission and then at the Bermondsey Settlement.

Amongst her fellow Sisters was Emmeline Pethick who would go on to become a very active suffragette, even suffering the indignity of force-feeding. A leading supporter of the West London Mission was Lady Henry Somerset, temperance leader and suffrage campaigner. But Lady Henry was not in favour of the violent protests of the suffragettes and aligned herself with the suffragists, believing that reasoned argument was a more effective tool. Millicent Fawcett, suffragist leader, was also amongst Grace’s friends. When Grace set up her Guild of the Brave Poor Things for disabled adults and children, both Lady Henry Somerset and Millicent Fawcett were on the founding committee.


Grace at Chailey in 1903

Grace clearly believed that women had an important part to play in society and actively campaigned in support of Sisters who were standing for office as Guardians of the Poor.

She appears to have told her family that she could have been a suffragette. She certainly liked theatrical gestures. But instead, she put her main energies into her social work with the poor and disadvantaged and became a pioneer of special education.


About rosblack

I am a freelance writer & author of 4 social history books, featuring female social reformers of the late 19th and early 20th century. In a previous life I managed a housing charity. I also give talks.
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2 Responses to Grace Kimmins – Suffragette or Suffragist?

  1. Francesca says:

    I am doing a panel on the life of Ada Salter and her achievements in the Bermondsey Settlement for working class girls at the turn of the 20th Century. I am also enclosing. a piece on the Guilds of play and would like to use a picture of Grace Kibbins as well. I’d like to use the one of Grace sitting at a desk at Chailey in 1903. Are the copyright holder and if so can you give me permission to use this picture. I look forward to hearing from you ?

    • rosblack says:

      I am unaware of any copyright holder of the photo to which you refer. I am happy for you to use the photo from my book.

      I assume you are aware of Graham Taylor’s excellent book on Ada Salter.

      Regards Ros Black

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