4 inspirational women are celebrated in Newport

HM Lord-Lieutenant of Essex Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst unveils one of the Blue Plaques in Newport

HM Lord-Lieutenant of Essex Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst unveils one of the Blue Plaques in Newport - Credit: Saffron Photo

Four blue plaques have been unveiled in Newport, to celebrate the lives of four women whose lives and efforts made a huge difference.

The plaques remember Agnes Dawson, the teacher and Trade Unionist who successfully campaigned to abolish the marriage bar on women teachers; Adèle Meyer who founded the first rural health centre in Newport in 1910; Hannah Wolley, who married the Master of the Free Grammar School in 1646 and later became one of the first women to make a living from writing and publishing; and Joyce Frankland who in 1588 founded the school that now bears her name.

Lord-Lieutenant of Essex, Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst, presided over the ceremony at Church House on Tuesday (May 17) as part of her inspirational women of Essex initiative.

Lord-Lieutenant of Essex, Jennifer Tolhurst, with two of the four blue plaques in Newport

Lord-Lieutenant of Essex, Jennifer Tolhurst, with two of the four blue plaques in Newport - Credit: Saffron Photo

The Essex Women’s Commemoration Project seeks to increase public recognition for the achievements of Essex women of the past, who have been so far overlooked by history.

Fields include the arts, writing, politics, science, philanthropy, education, social and military welfare, medicine, horticulture, activism and leadership.

EWCP originally proposed Agnes Dawson and Joyce Frankland. Contact was made with the Newport Local History Group, who suggested, in addition, Hannah Wolley and Lady Meyer.

Project manager David Evans said a number of people have worked on, and supported the project, for a long time. He said the day had gone exceedingly well, with over 40 guests present.

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One of their group members made four cakes for the occasion, one for each of the women being commemorated with a blue plaque.

Newport, Essex: Lord-Lieutenant of Essex Jennifer Tolhurst and MP Kemi Badenoch cut two of the cakes

Lord-Lieutenant of Essex Jennifer Tolhurst and MP Kemi Badenoch cut two of the four celebratory cakes in Newport - Credit: Saffron Photo

MP Kemi Badenoch, who was one of those attending, said: “It is an excellent contribution to our community and constituency, providing another opportunity for us to discover the history of the people who lived here before us.

"We owe them a huge debt and it is very fitting that their lives are being recognised in this way and will no doubt serve as future inspiration for many generations to come.”

The plaques will be going up at 69 Wicken Road (Agnes Dawson), Church House on Church Street (Hannah Wolley), Joyce Frankland Academy on Bury Water Lane (Joyce Frankland), and Tudor House, Bridge End (Adele Lady Meyer).


The 4 women honoured with a blue plaque

Newport, Essex: Leaflet on 4 inspirational women honoured with a Blue Plaque

The leaflet on the four women commemorated with a Blue Plaque in Newport - Credit: Saffron Photo

Agnes Dawson (1873-1953)

Agnes trained as a teacher at Saffron Walden College.

She taught in London schools and was an active member of the National Federation of Women Teachers.

She was a constitutional suffragist, and campaigned in a non--militant way for votes for women.

In 1925 she resigned from her teaching post and was voted on to London County Council.

In 1935, after a lot of campaigning, she successfully got the marriage ban lifted on women teachers.

She retired to Newport and served as a Justice of the Peace.


Hannah Wolley (Possibly lived 1622-1674)

A servant to a noblewoman, she went on to marry Jeremy Wolley, master of Newport's Free Grammar School. The site is now Church House.

Hannah was the author of a number of books on medicine, cookery and household affairs, published from 1661 onwards.


Joyce Frankland (1531-1587)

Joyce was married twice, and her son died before she did.

Her generous bequests included funds to set up The Free Grammar School in Newport in 1588.


Adele Lady Meyer (1862-1930)

The wife of a financier, Adele and Carl Ferdinand Meyer lived at Shortgrove Hall.

In 1910, she founded the first rural health centre in Newport at Martin's Farm (now Tudor House) which supported all sections of the community.

She also had a high profile in London.