Green Party members track down suffragette buried in Suffolk churchyard in time for International Women’s Day

Helen Geake planting violet primroses on Adeline Bournes grave, with local resident Wendy Turner. P

Helen Geake planting violet primroses on Adeline Bournes grave, with local resident Wendy Turner. Picture: ANTHONY BREEN/MID SUFFOLK GREEN PARTY - Credit: Archant

The Green Party has tracked down a suffragette buried in Thurston who helped found a pioneering band of actresses.

Adeline Bourne was buried in the Thurston village churchyard in 1965. Picture: ANTHONY BREEN/MID SUF

Adeline Bourne was buried in the Thurston village churchyard in 1965. Picture: ANTHONY BREEN/MID SUFFOLK GREEN PARTY - Credit: ANTHONY BREEN/MID SUFFOLK GREEN

Helen Geake, former Time Team presenter and Green Party candidate for Bury St Edmunds, was keen to research the life of campaigner Adeline Bourne after a friend recalled her living locally.

She was then inspired to track down the suffragette in time for International Women’s Day, celebrated around the world today.

Ms Geake said: “A friend of mine who was brought up in Thurston told me about a lady she remembered from her childhood who was described as a retired actress and suffragette.

“She was an amazing woman who, apart from being a well-known actress both in this country and on Broadway, was a founder member of the Actresses’ Franchise League in 1908.”


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Adeline Bourne lived in Thurston from the early 1950s until 1964, and was buried in the village churchyard.

The Actresses’ Franchise League (AFL), which Ms Bourne helped establish, was open to anybody involved in the theatrical profession.

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The group of actresses, singers, playwrights and musicians, which amassed over 500 members by 1911, aimed to promote women’s rights by staging pro-suffragette plays and distributing pamphlets.

Ms Geake continued: “I grew up taking it for granted that women could vote in elections, but since becoming more involved in politics I can appreciate the tremendous struggle that went on over a hundred years ago to help achieve this right.

“We missed out on commemorating this remarkable woman as part of the centenary celebrations, but International Women’s Day on March 8 seems an equally relevant day on which to plant flowers on her grave.

“We hope she would have appreciated the violet primroses – violet being a colour used by the suffragettes.”

International Women’s Day (IWD) has been held on March 8 since 1914, and grew out of the campaign for votes for women across the world.

This year, the day coincides with celebrations marking 100 years since some women got the vote thanks to campaigning by the suffragettes.

The theme chosen by campaigners for IWD 2018 is closing the gender pay gap, under the hashtag #PressforProgress.

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