REBELS, SAINTS AND SINNERS, MISTRESSES, QUEENS AND GODDESSES
As International Women’s Day approaches, one of the most inventive and absorbing
walking tour guides is inviting Londoners and London visitors to celebrate the city’s women. From 3- 8 March 2020, the week leading up to International Women’s Day, Look Up London will bring people closer to London’s unsung heroines, saints and rebels, crossing London in the footsteps of spies, suffragettes, artists, soldiers, politicians, scientists, lawyers, actresses, dancers and fashionistas.
Katie is the brains behind Look Up London and a long standing member of the History Girls community over on Instagram. I feel honoured she approached me to ask for help in promoting these amazing London-based walks ready for International Women’s Day 2020. If I lived closer to our capital city, I would be booking on right now!
Among the women to be encountered are Annie Brewster, one of the first black nurses in Victorian London; Rose Heilbron, England’s first woman judge and the first woman to lead in a murder case; activist and aristocrat Mary Delany, who invented a new art form at the age of 72; Catherine Hayes a ‘quick-tempered shrew’ burnt at the stake in 1726 for the gruesome murder of her husband; mathematician and pioneering computer scientist, Ada Lovelace; 17th century rebel, Nell Gwynn; and Nancy Astor, the first female member of parliament to take her seat, who said at the time, ‘[they] would rather have had a rattlesnake than me’.
The International Women’s Day Walks programme:
Women of Whitechapel
From Princesses to philanthropists, Whitechapel is bursting with stories of inspirational women.
Dismissed in the 19th century as a hotbed of vice and sin, Whitechapel’s locals and visitors were
forces of nature.
Dates: Thursday 5 March, 2pm & Sunday 8 March, 11am. Duration: 90 mins.
More than a century ago, Bertha Cave was ‘awfully sad’ that she wasn’t allowed to be a law student; others were barred from practising law, even though they had the qualifications, and Gwyneth Bebb was told that a woman wasn’t even ‘a person’ in a solicitor’s world. Yet these and many more women were blazing a trail. Explore the legal enclaves of London and take the journey across decades from Bertha Cave to Brenda, Lady Hale, recent president of the highest court of the land.
Dates: Thursday 5 March, 11am & Saturday 7 March, 2pm. Duration: 90mins
Mistresses, Saints and Sinners in St James’s
St. James’s has historically been the epicentre of the British establishment – ground zero for royalty, aristocracy and political bigwigs and full of shops, restaurants and exclusive members clubs catering to the English gentleman. But many inspiring and influential women also lived and worked here. Learn about people as diverse as actress and royal mistress Nell Gwynn, mathematician Ada Lovelace and politicians Margaret Thatcher and Nancy Astor – not to mention our Queens.
Dates: Tuesday 3 March, 11am & Friday 6 March, 11am. Duration: 90 mins
The Wonder Women of Hampstead Cemetery – in conjunction with the Cemetery Club
A guided tour through the gravestones of one of the most beautiful open spaces in London, alighting on the actresses, illustrators, ballet dancers and artists – not to mention the sauciest performer to appear on any stage (WHO?) – whose stories shouldn’t be forgotten.
Dates: Wednesday 4 March, 11am & Sunday 8 March, 2pm. Duration: 90 mins.
Women in the National Portrait Gallery
This tour begins with a half-hour walk across Covent Garden, taking in the haunts of the women to be found on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery. The Gallery is catnip if you love looking at people and this is your chance to explore a whole range of women, from painters, writers and
fighters to mistresses and mischief-makers, princesses and divas.
Dates: Thursday 5 March, 2pm & Saturday 7 March, 2pm. Duration: 90 mins.
Women, Queens and Goddesses at the British Museum
Women are under-represented in museums, so this is a chance to roam the British Museum in
feminist mode, seeking stories of the women who came to read under the dome of the celebrated
Reading-Room. A chance to discover some fascinating artists, activists, fierce Queens and awe inspiring goddesses.
Dates: Wednesday 4 March, 11am & Friday 6 March, 2pm. Duration: 90 mins
Ladies of Marylebone
Just north of Oxford Street lies a wealth of stories about extraordinary female characters. There’s barely a blue plaque to help, but this tour will locate heiresses, countesses and duchesses galore, a well-loved poet, a mathematical genius, a ground-breaking social reformer, some heroic spies and a daring bunch of Suffragettes. Female London history in a Marylebone nutshell.
Dates: Tuesday 3 March, 2pm & Friday 6 March, 11am. Duration: 120mins.
Female Rebels at the Tate Modern
Explore daring work by female artists from across the world, who have had to fight for their
creativity to be seen; find beautiful, exciting and peculiar artworks, with disparate stories beneath the surface.
Dates: Tuesday 3 March, 11am & Thursday 5 March, 11am. Duration: 90 mins
Women in the National Gallery
Women are everywhere at the National Gallery, but out of a collection of over 2,300 paintings, only 21 are by women. Take a closer look at how women have been represented in art across the
centuries, meeting virginal mothers, powerful politicians and radical rule breakers – the women who created, commissioned, collected and inspired some of the National Gallery’s great masterpieces.
Dates: Thursday 5 March, 2pm & Saturday 7 March, 2pm. Duration: 90 mins
Kickass Chelsea Women
Follow a trail of bold women in Chelsea who, despite different backgrounds and interests, made
their voices heard in a male world. A soldier, singer, Queen and 1960s fashionista are among the
inspiring characters encountered on this three-mile walk.
Dates: Friday 6 March, 2pm & Sunday 8 March, 2pm. Duration: 2 hours
Please note all walks are £15 with a max group size of 20 people. Bookings can be made via Eventbrite here.