Mother Mary Francis.
Marking the centenary of the passing of the Representation of the People Act granting some women the right to vote in 1918 brought back memories of our own suffragette at St Augustine’s Priory.
Mother Mary Francis, a strong, hyper-intelligent woman, was a member of the community of Augustinian Canonesses of the Lateran who ran the school until the mid-1990s. She was Headmistress for many years and teacher of Latin for even longer.
A suffragette, she was chained to railings and arrested for window-breaking more than once. Not only a fighter for votes for women, she was only one of a long line of strong women who fought for religious freedom and education for women.
In 1634 Lettice Tredway, a nun in France, wanted to provide a place for English women to follow their vocation – the England of that time preventing them from doing so in their own country. Their community also founded a school which thrived in France until the early years of the twentieth century when they moved to England.
St Augustine’s Priory continues to educate and encourage young women to take their place in the world, to be aware of all that they owe to the women who went before and to recognise that religious freedom, women’s equality, the right to education, health and freedom from poverty are integral to the world we live in.
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