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Caxton Hall

A Grade II Listed Building in City of Westminster, Westminster

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4987 / 51°29'55"N

Longitude: -0.135 / 0°8'5"W

OS Eastings: 529555

OS Northings: 179401

OS Grid: TQ295794

Mapcode National: GBR FJ.VX

Mapcode Global: VHGQZ.ML0G

Entry Name: Caxton Hall

Listing Date: 15 March 1984

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1357266

English Heritage Legacy ID: 209057

Location: Westminster, London, SW1H

County: Westminster

Electoral Ward/Division: St James's

Built-Up Area: City of Westminster

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Peter Eaton Square

Church of England Diocese: London

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Listing Text

This list entry was subject to a Minor Enhancement on 31/05/2018

TQ 2979 SE
100/10

CITY OF WESTMINSTER
CAXTON STREET, SW1
No. 10, Caxton Hall

(Formerly listed as Caxton Hall, CAXTON STREET)

15.3.84

II

SUMMARY
Former town hall, 1878-82 by Lee and Smith.

HISTORY
Built as town hall in 1878-82 by the architects Lee and Smith, Caxton Hall became a key site in the campaign for women’s suffrage. The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) was founded in Manchester in 1903 by Emmeline Pankhurst and a group of women from the Independent Labour Party (ILP). The WSPU soon distinguished itself from other suffrage societies by its use of militant tactics in the campaign for the vote. In January 1906 it moved to London, determined to become a national organisation. Caxton Hall was chosen as the venue for its first large meeting in the city, which took place on 19 February 1906 and was attended by over 400 women, mainly from the East End of London. Following the meeting they marched to the House of Commons, and found the Strangers’ Entrance to the lobby, usually a public space, was closed to women but some managed to get in and attempted to lobby their MPs.
 
On 13 February 1907 the WSPU held its first ‘Women’s Parliament’ at the Caxton Hall. The name emphasised the exclusion of women from all aspects of the business of the Westminster Parliament. These highly symbolic gatherings were intended to draw maximum publicity to the Union’s demands and were arranged to coincide with key events at Westminster such as the state opening or Parliament or a debate on a women’s suffrage bill. Suffragettes attended from all over the country as delegates of their branches, their fares were often paid by branch collections to allow working women to take part.  Following the meetings small groups of women, known as deputations, would march from Caxton Hall to the House of Commons to deliver their resolutions. The police would always be out in force, and there were always arrests.
 
The WSPU held ten Women’s Parliaments at Caxton Hall between February 1907 and November 1911, and the building provided the backdrop to some of the best known events of the Union’s militant campaign. Particularly violent treatment by the police in 1910 resulted in the campaigners resorting to greater militancy, and following the tenth Women’s Parliament meeting in 1911 the familiar deputations left Caxton Hall while at the same time large groups of suffragettes gathered at government buildings and carried out a co-ordinated mass window-smashing. From this point the WSPU’s attacks on property escalated. 

The Women’s Freedom League, Britain’s second militant suffrage society that split from the WSPU in 1908, used Caxton Hall for the regular ‘At Home’ meetings of its London branch. It was also the location for the ‘Green White and Gold’ fairs, large fundraising bazaars named for the Freedom League’s colours, which continued into the 1930s.  


DETAILS
Former Town Hall of 1878-82 by Lee and Smith, and later used as a Registry Office. As venue for the Women’s Parliaments it was a key site in the campaign for women’s suffrage.

Red brick and pink sandstone, slate roofs. Ambitious but coarse essay in Francois I style. Two main storeys over basement plus two more attic storeys rising into elaborately shaped pavilion roofs with iron crestings. Five bays wide. Central mid C20 entrance porch with canopy. Windows in panelled pilaster surrounds and canted bay windows in outermost bays, moulded strings friezes and cornices, all with carved enrichment, well executed but somewhat mechanical.

This list entry was amended in 2018 as part of the centenary commemorations of the 1918 Representation of the People Act.

Listing NGR: TQ2955579401

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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