Women of Peterborough Tour 7/2/2011
What a great day today discovering the women of influence in Peterborough, over the years. It was powerfully windy, but a beautifully bright sunny day. Our tour guide light heartedly informed us of the many influential women of their time in history. We are not normally aware of these incredible, fascinating women in our daily lives in Peterborough.
Ranging from; the good, the bad, and the ugly behaviour. If ASBO’s were around many years ago banning drunken behaviour in the streets. “Jack the Ripper” (allegedly) may not have got hold of Alice McKenzie in Whitechapel, London; his last victim. Alice was known to Peterborough’s red light district in Boongate. Also upsetting the locals in the Butchers, (where Halifax now is) when she came frequently to work and visit family; who had lived in Peterborough. My bank is the Halifax, so I will now think of Alice whenever I go in. As she challenges the butcher’s wife, waving sausages at her…..couldn’t do that now with health and safety laws.
If Lady Mary Wortley Montague in 1712, didn’t have an inoculation for small pox in Turkey. It may have been someone else that bought to England, and established the idea of the inoculation practice we have today; to protect us from dangerous diseases. For me, it is a regular event each year to have the vaccination flu injection. From the strength of her work, it was vaccinations that were introduced a few years later. I have asthma, so any hint of a cold will hinder my breathing normally. I will be thinking of Lady Mary Wortley Montague, when I next have my injection and the experiences she might of had to have this.
The dedication and the 24/7 selfless attitude of Florence Saunders; who set up the District Nursing Health Service, for the disadvantaged women of Boongate. She had a passion for those who lived in the most deprived areas in Peterborough. I too have a passion for women and their welfare; but I think I will stick to volunteering at the Women’s Centre, as Florence died quite young in her early forties. Due to probably the very hard work and dedication she put into looking after these ladies.
It was the kindness of one lady Katherine Clayton known for her good works in Peterborough. This brings faith, and inspiration to others. She was motivated to raise money for her favourite queen Katherine of Aragon’s, demolished tomb in Peterborough Cathedral. After some thoughtless Bishop, decided to break up the original marble for his conservatory flooring. Funds were raised in a very unique way; by contacting many wealthy ladies with the same name (Katherine). I would like to think that maybe someone would have the same respect for me if I had been in that situation. Or at least put my ashes in an empty coffee jar.
It was very clear to me that these were incredible, fearless women that stood out from the crowd. There were many more I haven’t mentioned. It was not easy to be a woman in times past. Women were not encouraged to do anything other than be impeccably behaved wives, and dedicated mothers; to stay home and do some embroidery. If you weren’t lucky to be in that life style; you were in the complete opposite and walked the streets passing your days in a haze of gin. Bed hopping from husband to husband.
Or maybe tragically having the misfortune to just get your whole family on the wrong boat in an effort to start a new life in America. The Sage family was the largest family with 10 children to die in the sinking of the Titanic. Having brought their ticket from the shipping company, ‘Thomas Cook’ (the original shipping company building is now a jewellers) in Peterborough. How tragic was that. To be of the wrong class too, if they had been in the upper classes their chances of survival would have been better. Not a great advert for Thomas Cook, but then it wasn’t their fault the ship ran into an iceberg in the reportedly most unsinkable ship. But that’s just life for you.
I think as long as we can have a little courage, faith, hope and encourage others along the way; who knows what remarkable pathways are around the corner for any of us.