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Sensational Southampton Women

I may have mentioned before on this blog that we left Birmingham back in the autumn of 2009.  Heading south to sunny Southampton we began a quite different life “down south”.  Now I’ve been here a while, it seems to be only sensible to give Southampton the #brimmin treatment.  So here goes, our list of sensational Southampton Women – as crowd sourced, in the age-old brimmin tradition (the Birmingham list is here).  If anyone names someone for making their mark or an impressive contribution to the life of the city, they’re on. Either leave a comment here or tweet your suggestion to @parboo.  I rarely edit the suggestions, but may ask for more information if I can’t find anything out about them.

Southampton is, of course,  a much smaller city  than brum, about a quarter of the population – I wonder if we might need to broaden our reach to Hampshire.  Let’s see how we get on:

  1. Adela Vern – Pianist
  2. Ali Sparkes – author
  3. Becky John – WhoMadeYourPants
  4. Charlie Dimmock – TV presenter and Gardener
  5. Dame Claramunda – Medieval merchant/business woman
  6. Danielle King – World class cyclist
  7. Dawn Baxendale – Chief Executive Officer, Southampton City Council
  8. Donna Hartley-Wass – World class Sprinter
  9. Eliza Quilter – C19th Pub Landlady
  10. Elizabeth Arnold – Children’s Writer
  11. Ellen Wren – pauper, drunk and catalyst for housing reform
  12. Ellie Cole – viral dancing queen
  13. Emily Davies – Suffragette and founder of Girton College Cambridge
  14. Emma Richardson – Bass/Vocals Band of Skulls
  15. Miss Ethel Maude Newman – Southampton’s Titanic Relief fund “lady visitor”
  16. Florence Nightingale – pioneer of nursing and health care reform
  17. Dr Gill Rider – President of CIPD, Chair of University of Southampton Council,
  18. Dame Helen Alexander – chair of UBM plc, the Port of London Authority (PLA) and Incisive Media, Chancellor of University of Southampton
  19. Lady Isabel Lyster – former owner of Tudor House
  20. Jane Austen – Author
  21. Jenny Packham – Fashion Designer
  22. Joan McGavin – Poet
  23. Josephine Knowles – Founder, Beyond the Streets
  24. Lucia Marion Welch – Southampton’s first woman Mayor 1927 (also greeted Amelia Earhart after her transatlantic flight)
  25. Mabel Alleyne – sculptor and artist
  26. Manisha Tank – CNN TV News Presenter
  27. Mary Thomas – Diarist and poet
  28. Parvin Damani MBE – Public health specialist and race equality adviser for the NHS, and former Mayor of S’ton
  29. Rose Foster (P35 on link) – “performer” with the great Barnum and Bailey Show
  30. Rebecca Smith – Writer and Teaching Fellow
  31. Sally Matthews – Soprano Opera singer
  32. Sally Taylor – TV News Presenter
  33. Sarah Jane Morris – singer songwriter
  34. Sarah Siddons – actress
  35. Shena Mackay – author
  36. Stella Davis – Poet
  37. Sue Lopez MBE – International Footballer, manager and coach
  38. Suki Sitaram – Assistant Chief Executive, Southampton City Council
  39. Suzie Templeton – writer and director specialising in stop-motion animation
  40. Tammy Marie Baker – The Gladiator: Fox
  41. Tessa Harrison – Registrar, University of Southampton
  42. Vanessa Lawrence CB – Director General and Chief Executive of Ordnance Survey
  43. Victoria King OBE – Former Mayor and philanthropist
  44. Professor Dame Wendy Hall – Dean of the Faculty of Physical and Applied Sciences, University of Southampton

Jane Austin

So we’ve made a start (11 women in the first update on 17 April 2013, leaping to an impressive 38 before the day was done, thanks to everyone who commented and named names).  Already I know more about Southampton’s women than I did before.  Their sporting achievement, artistic endeavours and leadership.

We need more women role models and of course so many exist.  This is just a small way to pull them out of the shadows…

Let’s see if we can identify 50 Sensational Southampton Women from the past or present.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. Patricia spence permalink
    January 9, 2017 9:07 am

    Im related to Ellen Wren. My mother was a Wren. I find it all so fascinating. Also related to Sir Christopher Wren. 😀

  2. Barbara Webber permalink
    January 8, 2017 10:43 pm

    Mary Collett 0, world biathle champion and inspirational athlete and P.E.teacher.

  3. October 20, 2016 11:06 pm

    Alice Gillington (1863-1934) collected folk songs and dances from the Gypsies she met and befriended in Sholing, and campaigned for Gypsy and Traveller rights. She lived in Bitterne and later in a caravan at Thorney Hill near Bransgore in the New Forest

  4. John Avery permalink
    February 8, 2014 7:39 am

    Florence Nightingale
    Whilst the chapel of the Royal Victoria Millitary Hospital at Netley was named after her, the only input she had was commenting on the proposed lay out. She made various suggestions, mainly side wards instead of long continous wards which were prone to infections spreading throughout.
    Florence Nightingale became rather reclusive and suffered ill health on her return from the Crimea and used her time writing to various politicians etc commenting on the plans of the future hospital at Netley. However the tenders etc were so far advanced that only token gestures resulted from her recommendations. She never visited the completed hospital so in truth I query why she is on the list as she has little connection with Southampton

    • October 20, 2016 11:05 pm

      Florence Nightingale also designed the layout of Salisbury Infirmary, and her ideas were implemented. As well as writing letters during her ill health, she also received important visitors to discuss healthcare reforms. She is buried in East Wellow, between Salisbury and Southampton, in a family plot filled with other Nightingales, so her connection to the Southampton area is also ancestral. She lived on the Embley Park estate in Hampshire, which is now a college.

  5. Carolyn Maybray permalink
    August 11, 2013 11:36 am

    My Grandfather’s cousin is Lord Maybray-King, as a family we are very proud of his achievements and that of Victoria in her own right. It was great to see her listed here as I am currently researching her activities to give to my daughter when she is older as part of our family history.

    • April 5, 2014 6:04 pm

      Hi Carolyn – Victoria’s grandson here John Wilson – find me on facebook and I can help with your research. You’ll see I have added some family photos to Horace’s wiki. retiring soon so will have some time – at last!

      • April 5, 2014 9:24 pm

        Hi John, fabulous to hear from you. I was hoping family would find this post. Hunting you out is not that easy, any clues? I keep finding already retired John Wilson’s!!. Might be easier if you find me, with my surname. I am the only one! 😉 Look forward to catching up.

    • Karen belte permalink
      June 18, 2017 11:57 am

      Hi Carolyn my grandad’s father Harold was Horace King’s brother. My grandad was Alfred King MB. I would love to hear more about the family connection. Karen

      • John Wilson permalink
        November 28, 2017 9:37 am

        Hi Karen Belte – just found your post on the web. I am Horace’s Grandson. Uncle Harold was always a mystery to me – in that I never met him – I think he had a daughter called Sydney? it sticks in my mind that she visited Horace in Parliament.Did Harold go to india at some point? if you like you can contact me on Cheers John

  6. Sebastian Salek permalink
    May 9, 2013 9:18 pm

    Tiny correction – Girton College is in Cambridge, not Oxford.

    • May 9, 2013 9:22 pm

      Ouch – that’s awkward! Thanks for pointing it out. I discovered it first opened in Hitchin, which is surprising.

  7. Joan McGavin permalink
    May 6, 2013 8:40 pm

    Thanks for including me. Oh, and by the way, the poet Stella Davis doesn’t have an ‘e’ in her surname. And what about Rebecca Smith, the fantastic novelist and nonfiction writer who lives and works in Southampton?
    Joan (McGavin)

  8. April 17, 2013 11:27 pm

    That’s a good list. I can think of a few more historical women who came from, moved to or worked in Southampton. They need to be represented.

    Dame Claramunda, medieval businesswoman
    Lady Isabel Lyster, businesswoman of Tudor House
    Sarah Siddons, Regency actress who was in Southampton some of the time – Southampton is the home of the Sarah Siddons Fanclub
    Mary Thomas, diarist of settler life in Australia
    Eliza Simmonds, milliner of Tudor House
    (see for the Tudor House residents)
    Eliza Quilter, Victorian pub landlady known for keeping control with a big stick
    Ellen Wren, whose death became a national symbol for the scandal of Victorian squalor
    Adela Verne, pianist, and her sisters Alice and Mathilde
    Lucia Foster Welch, the first female mayor of Southampton
    Sally Taylor, news presenter / journalist for Radio Solent, South Today and the Southern Daily Echo.
    Shena Mackay, Scottish novelist currently living in Southampton.
    Sally Matthews, soprano
    Jenny Packham, fashion designer

    I could comb through the lists of honorary graduates…

    • April 17, 2013 11:55 pm

      Wow, where to start… I’d better get a shifty on! Some of these have been suggested by others, which is great – at least there is some snese of our women’s history.

  9. Allegra Carlton permalink
    April 17, 2013 11:07 pm

    a) Emily Davies was a suffragette born in Southampton – she was the woman who threw herself into the Derby (and was killed) to draw attention to the exclusion of women from the suffrage.. Her grandchild (or great-grandchild?) another Emily Davies, was at school with my daughter.
    b)Joan McGavin, a really wonderful contemporary poet, living, working and teaching in Southampton.
    c) Stella Davies, another contemporary poet – not now living in Soton but lived and worked here for decades until about 6 or 7 years ago.

    • April 17, 2013 11:54 pm

      A marvellous trio, thank you – though I found Emily Davison from London was the Derby campaigner, whilst our Emily founded Girton College Oxford – which is a pretty impressive achievement!

  10. April 17, 2013 10:39 pm

    Two Solent uni halls are named after women but not sure who they are Emily Davies and Lucia Foster Welch? Also Ellen Wren who I think was a prostitute that died on the street and led to the introduction of social housing.

    • annabel hodgson permalink
      April 17, 2013 11:02 pm

      Ellen Wren – when we developed the housing for single young parents in swaythling we named the housing project after her!

      • Richard Bland permalink
        September 2, 2014 5:14 pm

        Ellen Wren is my family tree. Her full name is Mary Ellen Wren and came from a respectable working class family. Ellen had a daughter with a chap called Thomas Anderson. It was this daughter, born Emma Louisa Anderson, who appeared at Ellen Wren’s inquest as Louisa Clarke. Ellen had two other children with Thomas that died in infancy and it was perhaps this, and Thomas’s violent temper, that led Ellen to prostitution and a life of squalor.

  11. April 17, 2013 10:17 pm

    Hello you could include Victoria King first wife of Horace King who was later the speaker in the House of Lords. I am certain she set up a hospice or a hospital. And did loads of charity stuff. She was a friend of my grandmothers and she always spoke about her doing fab stuff… But I was young and didn’t pay attention. So sorry you might have to do some research. The only thing I can find on her is on HIS wiki page “His wife – Victoria Florence King was also politically active – a town councillor and Mayor of Southampton in Coronation year 1953. She received a posthumous OBE.”

    • April 17, 2013 10:33 pm

      That’s a good shout, thank you. I’ve found a list of Southampton Mayors, so may link to that. That has also led me to the first Female Mayor in the city. It is such a shame so many women are hidden in their husband’s lives. I may link her to his site with a strong sense of irony!

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