Page 5 - HGS Suburb News 143 - Summer 2020
P. 5


                                            CELEBRA TING W OMEN

                                   Girl Power!                                                 A letter to Henrietta Barnett:

                                 s a teenage girl fast approaching womanhood, it is
                              A    particularly eye-opening for me to reflect back on just      a woman ahead of her time
                                how much the lives of women have changed since VE
                                 day, almost exactly 75 years ago.                         Wgoing to be extended  in  1899,  near  then hardly surprising that you founded
                                                                                                hen the London Underground was  the National Union of Women Workers. It’s
                                     VE day was the day when the allies of World War II
                                   celebrated Nazi Germany’s surrender. Street parties     your weekend home by Spaniard’s Inn in  the Henrietta Barnett School, providing
                                    were held, bonfires were lit, and there was not a      preserving the natural, peaceful ambiance
                                                                                           Hampstead, you immediately set about  education for girls of all backgrounds,
                                     street in sight where the merry sounds of dancing                                          even during a time where fewer than 1% of
                                      and singing could not be heard. But it was not       of the Suburb. You envisioned something  women and girls went to university. Did you
                                       only the brave young soldiers fighting on the      ahead of its time – just over 100 years later,  imagine the school you built would go on
                                        battlefront who we are to  owe  this victory to.   we live in an era of ‘eco’ and ‘green’  to educate more than three generations?
                                         Women had about as much a part in the            our planet.
                                                                                          campaigns as we struggle to coexist with  That  your  picture  still  hangs  in  the  Main
                                           victory of World War II as men!                   Even though you were told you were “just   Hall, observing the girls below?
                                              Prior to the second world war, women                                                Your legacy isn’t limited to the Suburb –
                                           mostly held domestic, household roles.         a woman” by Eton College who owned the  you received a well-deserved DBE (Dame
                                                                                          land  that  would  later  become  the
                                                                                                                               Commander of the Order of the British
                          Rosie  the Riveter  Their job was to keep the home tidy and     Hampstead Garden Suburb, you persevered.  Empire) for your work – the results of your
        functioning well, so that their husbands would be pleased when they came home from   You campaigned, fundraised, and formed
        work. Don’t you hate it when your parents tell you to clean your room? Well, try imagining   a company that would eventually buy that  passage of time.
                                                                                                                               philanthropy remain relevant even with the
        a life when you’re expected to clean every room of the house… every day! And it was not   land. It’s a lesson we can all take with us:
        just older women who were expected to carry out these household duties: young girls   don’t give up and one day you will succeed.  We have privileges that define the
        were also required to help their mothers dust and tidy and fold, since less emphasis was   When you met Octavia Hill, a pioneer  buildings packed onto dirty tarmac, and
                                                                                                                              Suburb: no shrill school bells, no cramped
        placed on their education – that was reserved for boys (unless you belonged to the   female architect, a seed of an idea was  the Heath Extension which protects us
        working classes). While many girls did attend primary school, few at that time continued   planted for the Garden Suburb. But you’d  from the noisy, greyish concrete that is
        through to secondary education and it was relatively rare for girls to go on to university.   always been in love with nature and
         Cambridge University did not accept girls until 1948!                           tranquillity. Your brainchild – the Hampstead   London. Your lifetime’s work has given us a
           However, with thousands of men away serving in the armed forces, the role of girls   Garden Suburb – was inspired by the likes of   gift that will last generations.
         and young women during World War II began to change. From 1941, women were called   the Garden City movement and Bournville                ISABELLE  H
         up to be mechanics, engineers, and fire engine drivers. By mid-1943, almost 90 percent   Village. Now it houses 13,000 residents. But
         of single women and 80 percent of married women were working in factories, on the   what’s  worth  even more  is the  close-knit
         land or in the armed forces. The idea that women would be able to take up these jobs   community that was built and has grown.
         would have been deemed impossible before World War II. What’s more, there were over   Your tireless campaign protected the
         640,000 women in the armed forces, both in the navy and air force. Even Princess   Garden Suburb as we know it today. It’s you
         Elizabeth worked as a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) at the age of 19,   we have to thank for the Hampstead Garden
         and was promoted to Junior Commander!                                          Suburb Act (1906); protecting our tree-lined
           There was also a ‘secret army’ (known as the SOE), of around 60 women who were
                                                                                        roads and recreation grounds or open spaces
         dropped from planes into Germany to prepare the way for the Allied invasion. One of   “for the common use of the inhabitants of
         the most famous SOE members was Vera Leigh. Although she was eventually captured   any dwellings in the Garden Suburb.”
         and murdered by the Nazis, the remarkable bravery she demonstrated still lives on today.   Even though you were daughter of a
            To summarise, it was not only men who contributed to Britain’s victory 75 years ago,
                                                                                        wealthy businessman, born in Clapham,
         but also women. Women who, because of how heroically they united together, showed   you soon became intent on activism after
         the men they were capable of so much more than was previously believed. Perhaps it is   you went to school aged 16. Inspired by its
         partly thanks to their actions that I can stand here today, as a pupil of the Henrietta   ability to encourage minds that could think,
         Barnett School, with so many opportunities in my path. It is with a warm feeling in my   you dedicated your life to helping others:
         heart that I embrace the future ahead of me as a strong, independent female, inspired   founding the London Pupil Teachers
         to show the world what the term ‘Girl Power!’ really means.                   Association, working with Homes for
                                                                        ALLIE G        Workhouse Girls, and as Vice President of   Henrietta Barnett

            Can a naked lady ever be a feminist icon?

            rowing up, I always loved driving past Henlys Corner  noun in French).  Interestingly, ‘La Délivrance’ holds a sword,   Become part of
         G  and spotting ‘the naked lady’, as I called it. Now, though,  even  though  women  were  not  allowed  to  fight,  perhaps   the community
         I am beginning to wonder about the implications of how  because she represents the whole of the nation. In this case, I   If you’d like to join the Suburb community, please complete and
         women are represented in this iconic piece of public art…  find it a compelling and empowering image.     return the form below or join online at Our Privacy Policy
           ‘The Naked Lady’ is not her name, and neither is ‘Dirty   Upon seeing a statue of a naked woman, it is easy to   can be viewed at
         Gertie’ as some people call her. The statue at Henlys Corner  write it off as degrading and objectifying to us today, however
         is a First World War memorial, created in 1914 by Émile Oscar  this is to grossly over-simplify the work of art. Though it is not   MEMBERSHIP FORM
         Guillaume and originally named ‘La Victoire’, in honour of  lost on me that ‘La Délivrance’ is by a man, it is important to   One subscription covers everyone at the address for a calender year
         the First Battle of the Marne, when the German army was  try and find value in his representation of women; as beautiful   I/We would like to join the HGS Residents Association.
         defeated before capturing Paris. At some point her name   beacons of hope and success. Regardless of Guillaume’s
         was changed to ‘La Délivrance’ and she was given to Finchley  intentions, ‘the Naked Lady’ is an eye-catching representation   Name
         Council in 1927; the then Prime Minister, David Lloyd George   of strength in the form of a   My brother Lonnie with    Address
         held the unveiling ceremony to a crowd of 8,000.   nude female body, which is           The Naked Lady                                Postcode
           ‘La Délivrance’ depicts a nude woman holding a sword   especially welcome as too
         and reaching towards the sky in celebration.       often women are overlooked                             Email
           She has 11 sisters (all smaller than our 4.9m) that were   and cast as the weaker sex.                  Phone
         given to French and Belgian cities that were occupied by the   Women today can still be                     Subscription amount (Minimum payment £15) ....£
         Germans.   In  1919,  a  copy  in Lille  was  taken  down  as  the   empowered by the statue
                                                                                                                   Fellowship donation* (Optional) ...................................£
         nudity proved too controversial. It was bought by the city of  ‘La Délivrance’ by choosing                (To support Fellowship, a Suburb charity, in its work for Suburb senior citizens)
         Nantes and vandalised there too before being finally  to view it as a symbol of                           Total ..................................................................................................£
         restored and reinstated in 2018. As a point of interest, Emile  female power.                             * I declare by making this donation that I want to Gift Aid my donations to
         Guillaume was a pacifist who used his sculptures to promote   These are our bodies                        Fellowship House and am a UK taxpayer paying sufficient tax to meet the Gift
         his idea.  A generous way to view this statue is that Guillaume   being represented, and the              Aid on my donation. I agree to Fellowship receiving my details for this purpose.
         is simply representing victory and freedom as the French do   only wrong way to interpret                 (Delete the above declaration if you do not wish to Gift Aid your donation or do
        - as feminine nouns. Nudity has long represented liberation in  these sculptures is as                     not pay sufficient tax)
         art, whatever the subject’s gender. However, one could also   images of women for men                     I wish to pay:
         interpret  ‘the  Naked  Lady’  as  yet  another  example  of  to enjoy, when instead we
                                                                                                                       by cheque (payable to HGS Residents Association). Please write
         women’s bodies being objectified and designed to be  should take these monuments                          your address on the back of the cheque and send with this form to
         beautiful to the male gaze, which is more problematic. In a   as proof of the power of                    the address below.
         world so enamoured by the female body, it begs the question:  women. We can represent
         why is having one still a hindrance? There is little information  freedom, liberation, and                    online via PayPal or with Credit or Debit Card – visit
         available about Émile Oscar Guillaume’s intentions or his  strength, with or without our                      by bank transfer to HGS Residents Association:
                                                                                                                   Bank: HSBC, 897 Finchley Road, NW11 7NX Sort Code: 40-03-11
         other work, so ‘La Délivrance’ is open to interpretation and I   clothes on.                              Account number: 91605747
         choose to view it as a symbol for France (also a feminine         ROSA B
                                                                                                                   Please return this form to: The Membership Secretary, HGS Residents
                                                                                                                   Association, PO Box 67700, London NW11 1NS.  (SN143)
      SUBURB NEWS IS PRODUCED AND DELIVERED TO YOU BY RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION VOLUNTEERS                                                                             5
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10