Battle of Downing Street

Battle of Downing Street
Date22 November 1910 (1910-11-22)
51°30′11.6″N 0°07′39.0″W / 51.503222°N 0.127500°W / 51.503222; -0.127500Coordinates: 51°30′11.6″N 0°07′39.0″W / 51.503222°N 0.127500°W / 51.503222; -0.127500
MethodsDemonstration, smashing windows
Parties to the civil conflict
Lead figures
200 protesters
Arrested159 women; three men
Preceded by: Black Friday

The Battle of Downing Street was a march of suffragettes to Downing Street, London, on 22 November 1910. Organized by Emmeline Pankhurst's Women's Social and Political Union, the march took place four days after Black Friday, a suffragette protest outside the House of Commons that saw the women violently attacked by police.[1][2]

Taking place in the context of the debate over the Conciliation Bill 1910 (giving a limited number of women the vote according to property and marital status), the march was a direct response to the statement by the Prime Minister H. H. Asquith that: "The Government will, if they are still in power, give facilities in the next Parliament for effectively proceeding with a Bill which is framed so as to admit of free amendment", which suggested that the bill would have no chance of being passed.[3]

Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst were at Caxton Hall when news arrived of Asquith's speech; Christabel announced to the audience that it was a declaration of war: "The promise for next parliament is an absurd mockery of a pledge. They have been talking of declarations of war. We also declare war from this moment." Emmeline told the crowd: "I am going to Downing Street. Come along, all of you."[4]

Around 200 women marched on Downing Street, smashing windows at the Colonial Office and Home Office, and on Asquith's car;[5] 159 women and three men were arrested, including Emmeline and her sister, Mary Clarke. Clarke was arrested for throwing a stone through the window at Canon Row Police Station, where Emmeline was being held, after the police refused to let Clarke see her.[6] About 20 women approached 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's residence, from the back and swarmed around Augustine Birrell, the Chief Secretary for Ireland.[5] He was "pulled ... about and hustled", had his hat knocked off and was left with a twisted knee.[7] Burrell did not prosecute those responsible, writing to the Home Secretary, Winston Churchill, on 21 February 1911: "Let the matter drop but keep your eye on the hags in question."[8]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Bartley 2002, p. 125.
  2. ^ "Suffragist Disturbances". The Times. London. 23 November 1910.
  3. ^ Lee 2008, p. 342; Rosen 2013, pp. 142–143.
  4. ^ Purvis 2002, p. 151.
  5. ^ a b Rosen 2013, p. 143.
  6. ^ Purvis 2002, pp. 151–152.
  7. ^ Rosen 2013, pp. 143–144.
  8. ^ Rosen 2013, pp. 133, 143.


Bartley, Paula (2002). Emmeline Pankhurst. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-20651-8.
Lee, Alison (2008). "Appendix D: The Conciliation Bill and Black Friday". Suffragette Sally. By Colmore, Gertrude. Lee, Alison (ed.). Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press. pp. 342–357. ISBN 978-1-55111-474-3.
Purvis, June (2002). Emmeline Pankhurst: A Biography. London and New York: Routledge.
Rosen, Andrew (2013) [1974]. Rise Up, Women! The Militant Campaign of the Women's Social and Political Union, 1903–1914. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-136-24754-5.

Further reading[edit]