Siege at St Leonards 1912

Women still had to pay taxes despite having no vote and thus no influence over how they were spent. Tax resistors believed that 'taxation without representation' was despotic and immoral. Campaign groups were formed all over Britain and some of the more militant women broke the law by refusing to pay taxes.



Considerable interest attached to the meeting of the Women's Tax Resistance League in the Royal Concert Hall, St. Leonards on Monday evening.

About fifty men stewards and helpers were present, as well as police, in the event of a disturbance, the meeting having been postponed from lst May (after the attack on a recent tax resistance procession), and local interest in the Suffrage movement being keener in consequence of the County Court decision a few days ago, there was some idea that a hostile demonstration might take place, and one sympathiser came armed, with knuckledusters. However, the meeting proved very quiet.

Advert in the Hastings & St Leonards Pictorial Advertiser 20 November 1913

Mrs Darent Harrison, a member of the St Leonards Tax Resistance League, witheld her Inhabited House Duty. When the time came for the Borough Council's bailiffs to seize her goods in lieu of payment, she barricaded herself inside her home. As well as making a moral stance this gained publicity for the campaign. These photographs are of the house: 1, St Paul's Place.

St Paul's Place

St Paul's Place

St Paul's Place

To avoid opening the front door, food brought by friends was raised up to the window in a basket on a rope. However, a visitor unwittingly allowed the bailiff to gain entry.

The Suffragette barricade at Mrs. Darent Harrison's house, 1, St. Paul's-place, St. Leonards, has fallen. The house was entered on Monday by the pantry window, by which a lady visitor had entered the garden to gather flowers. A protest was made by Mrs. Harrison, who resisted the levy. The Collector threatened a 50 fine if wilful obstruction was offered. Mrs. Harrison said: "I stated publicly I would resist to my last breath. This is literally and actually true. This does not mean that I pit my muscular force against yours, but that I do pit my I spiritual force against all the tyrannical governments of the world." The Collector replied: "I am a collector of taxes, not a hired bully, and rather than use physical violence I would resign my post." The goods were then seized. This picture was taken on Monday afternoon, and shows Mrs. Darent Harrison third from the right, front row, surrounded by other tax resistors and Suffragettes.

Mrs Darent Harrison's goods were seized and held for later auction. The tax-resistors and suffragists, seeing an excellent opportunity to get publicity for the cause, organised a great banner-procession to be carried out from St Paul's Place, into Hastings, then back along the seafront, culminating in a protest during the auction, to be held at an auctioneer's in Norman Road. This turned into a riot.

Top - Suffragette cartoon
Middle - 1 St Paul's Place
Quote from: Hastings & St Leonards Pictorial Advertiser, 9 May 1912

On to Tax Resistance Page 2: Riot
Return to Hastings Women's Suffrage
HOME of the website