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Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitleKonter, Mrs & Hunter, Mrs
Ref No8SUF/B/108
Box Fetch NoBox 1: Disc 23
LevelFile
Date7 Oct 1976
Extent68:23 mins
DescriptionInterview took place at Flat 7, Cottey House, Pym's Road, Galleywood, Chelmsford. Interviewee Mrs Konter was a friend of suffragette Grace Chappelow (interviewee Mrs Hunter was a friend of Mrs Konter, though much younger, and regularly visited her in her old people's home at Galleywood). The interview relates to Chappelow.

Interview summary:
How Mrs Konter first met the suffragette Grace Chappelow, and then moved in with her when her mother and husband died. Her affection for animals at the expense of human beings. Grace's parents and upbringing. Grace's affection for her mother. Grace's eccentricity in later life. Her vegetarianism, her goat's milk, her 13 cats, her determination. Her last illness. Lack of facilities in the house. Imprisoned later in life in a dispute over injuries inflicted on a Conservative agent by her dog, because she refused to pay the fine. Grace's good sense of humour. Her attitude to health. Her local reputation in Hatfield Peverel. Her eccentric brother. Her suffragette career. Grace's dependence on Mrs Konter. Grace's admiration for Elizabeth Fry. Her links with the suffragettes Dorothea Rock, Zoe Procter and Grace Bligh.

(Mrs Florrie Kantor (companion) and unnamed woman (friend) interviewed about suffragette Grace Chappelow by Brian Harrison 07/10/1976, Women's Library ref. 8SUF/B/108

Mrs Kantor met Grace in 1928. Mrs K, her mother and her husband moved to a house in Stock, Essex, in June and Grace, her mother, (and brother?) and a male friend moved next door (1/4 mile away) in Aug. Mrs K was 5 days older than Grace. When Mrs K's husband and mother died she moved in with Grace. The house (Bishops) was large with 12 acres of land, mainly orchard. Grace kept goats, bees and made money including from the sale of goats' milk.

Grace's experience in the Suffragette movement changed her physically, mentally and spiritually. She rejected Man, was more interested in animals and birds. She had suffered physical pain and mockery in her Suffragette days. She had three Suffragette friends at Ingatestone - one visited her when she lived at Stock. She was sent to prison several times and was forcibly fed. She smuggled a prison cup and knife out of Holloway in the hem of her skirt. These were given to Chelmsford Museum with a certificate signed by Mrs Pankhurst.

Grace came from a good family. Her father was an accountant but her parents were separated and her father never lived at Bishops. When she was 12 she was sent to a school in Belgium where teaching was rigid. Grace was very fond of her mother.

Mrs K lived with Grace for over 30 years. Grace spent her mornings in bed and went out at night to do the jobs she needed to do. She became very deaf. During the War she did very well selling goats' milk.

Mention made of the fact that the family had lived at Hatfield Peverel. Mrs K says she was fascinated by Grace and would go down and see her even before she knew her. (Is this a reference to her suffragette days in Chelmsford or before they met in Stock?) Grace had a beautiful voice but her mother wouldn't agree to her going to Italy to be trained. Grace never had a job. Her brother was very artistic. He worked in the Council offices in Chelmsford but was often ill - he was asthmatic. The family were not very well off. The male friend, Mr [Jeffers?], had been a friend of Grace's father. Bishops was a large house with five bedrooms and overlooked Hanningfield Reservoir. Grace loved nature. She was a strict vegetarian. She eventually had a lot of money left to her and she then left it all to animal causes. She had 13 cats when Mrs K moved in and always had a dog.
One election she wrote to the three main candidates asking who would support the League Against Cruel Sports. Two candidates replied; Grace gave her vote to the Labour candidate (find out later she normally voted Conservative). She was a strongly principled person but not really interested in politics. She had had so much strife she rejected it.

From the age of 80 she rode a tricycle as she was no longer able to ride a bicycle. She didn't care how she dressed. People called her 'The Goat Lady'. She had a box on her tricycle for the milk. Grace was educated and well-spoken. Her family was eccentric especially Grace and her brother. She went to school until she was 18 (Brian Harrison had discovered it was the North London Collegiate). She was determined and fearless. She died on her 87th birthday.

Mrs K did the housework but someone came in once a week. There was no running water, had to go to the well. They had a radio but no television. People in Stock knew she had been a Suffragette but it was a bit of a closed chapter for Grace because the hurt went so deep. She threw a stone through the window of Number 10. She was forcibly fed in prison. She later went to prison for refusing to pay a fine when her dog knocked over a female Conservative agent. She spent two weeks in prison in Norwich and enjoyed it, making friends with her warden. She had a good sense of humour and could stick up for herself; she was independent.

Failure of parents' marriage - father insisted he should take a female friend on holiday with the family. He subsequently lived with her. He paid £5 a week to his family but there was no divorce.

There is a discussion about the photograph of Grace selling the Suffragette newspaper. People would spit at her as she stood selling it. The photograph was used in the book 'The Edwardians'.

Local people regarded Grace as an eccentric. She had one or two friends in the village. Mrs K really enjoyed living with her, the best time of her life; it was a healthy outdoor life. Grace enjoyed country dancing.

When Grace died Mrs K destroyed a lot of her letters at Grace's request. These included letters for Grace to attend prison. She wasn't a tidy person and didn't care what people thought of her.

During the Second World War when she lived at Bishops, she made cheeses and sold milk. Her brother died in hospital in London when the family lived there. He didn't conform, "He was crazy". Her mother was a nice old lady. Grace did visit her father in his office when she went to London but her brother never did.

Grace clung to Mrs K. Mrs K did the cooking but Grace could cook well. She grew her own fruit and vegetables. Had a man to do the gardening occasionally. Drove a car until she had an accident and never drove again. Came from a Huguenot family. Class didn't bother her. She didn't like children, considered them 'a blooming nuisance'.

Suffragettes in a lorry in Springfield Road (Chelmsford) were thrown into the water. Grace may have met the Rock girls on the train going to school. Grace Blyth lived in the corner house (where?); she was not a militant. In the First World War Grace Blyth had a job buying hay for the Army. Zoe Proctor stayed with the Rocks. Dorothea Rock died and left £500 (to Grace?). Grace's mother helped to carry the flags when Emily Davidson died. Mr (Jeffers?) who lived with them was in favour of the movement and would collect Grace from prison when her sentence was over.)
(The following transcript was kindly provided by Dot Bedenham, visitor to TWL - Mar 2010)
URLhttps://www.lse.ac.uk/library/collection-highlights/the-suffrage-interviews
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsInterview recordings are available online and can be accessed at the link provided in this record.
Former Reference NumberTape 38
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