Situated just to the east of the City of Bath, Eagle House was built by and was the home of John Wood the elder and later Lieutenant Colonel Linley and Mrs Emily Blathwayt with their daughter Mary and, for a short time, Annie Kenney.
Annie was a working class girl from Saddleworth near Manchester, England. Born on 13th September 1879, she started work in the mills at the age of 10. At the age of 26 in 1905, she became involved with the suffragette movement after hearing Christabel Pankhurst speak in Oldham.
She travelled to London and became very active within the movement, being imprisoned 13 times. In 1907 she came to Bristol to help with the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) where she met Mary Blathwayt. Mary’s parents, Lieutenant Colonel Linley and Mrs Emily Blathwayt were sympathetic to the women’s movement, but did not want to go to gaol. The colonel gave up a portion of his 4 acre estate to build a summer house/shelter to house suffragettes when they were released from prison. Annie Kenney was heavily involved with the set up and the subsequent rehabilitation of the women. She encouraged the recovering suffragettes to plant trees as memorials of their ordeal. Each tree had a plaque with the name of the tree, the name of the person who planted it and the date it was planted. Over three years (1909 – 1912) some 60 trees were planted of which only one survives today. This was an Austrian Pine planted by Rose Lamartine Yates on 30th October 1909.
In 1963 the land was sold and developed into a housing estate. All but one of the trees were bulldozed and only 3 of the plaques were rescued. The surviving tree is in a private garden in this housing estate and is so enormous that it can be seen on Google Maps.
Eagle House was divided into flats.
The image – Framed
3D mixed media.
44” (102cm) by 30”(70cm) £800
When I first started researching this, I had some notion of women’s suffrage but did not know the extent that Bath played in it. I have lived here for most of my life. The more I read and heard, the more this one woman, Annie Kenney, stood out.
I wanted to not only show a sense of place but a sense of time too. I also wanted to tell the story of how the generosity of Blathwayts helped these women to recover and how sad it is today that there is no memorial at this important place.
I chose an old battered frame as a representation of the rough treatment these women had.
The colour photo montage as the background depicts the modern site of the four acre grounds of the house taken from Google maps. Although it is not possible to approach the tree or Eagle House, as they are private residences these days, I did drive round the housing estate where the Austrian Pine, planted so many years ago, is very impressive.
The figure of Annie Kenney emerging and the painted tree, mainly in monochrome, are representative of the 1909 – 1912 period when the Arboretum was planted.