Militant Suffragettes Sentenced at Felixstowe Town Hall

Militant Suffragettes, Hilda Birkett and Florence Tunks have been sentenced at Felixstowe Town Hall.

Burkitt, who was 37, and Tunks, who was 22, were jailed for two years and nine months respectively following a trial in May 1914.

Birkett and Tunks planted incendiary devices inside the iconic hotel in Felixstowe.

The Bath Hotel burned down on April 28th, 1914 after incendiary devices were planted by militant Suffragettes.

Hilda Birkett and Florence Tunks set fire to the hotel as part of their “Votes for Women” campaign.

The hotel was empty at the time, but was completely gutted. 

“They left a few clues: labels on the bushes saying ‘votes for women’ and there was a banner that said ‘there will be no peace until women get the vote’.”

The hotel was built in 1839 at a time when planners were attempting to establish the Suffolk town as a spa resort, and it had hot and cold sea water baths. No-one was in the hotel at the time of the fire.

When the fire was investigated, evidence of arson was soon found.   Cotton wool had been carefully placed on the broken edges of the glass window of the kitchen at the east end of the building.  It was assumed that the cotton wool was placed to avoid injury while undoing the latch. Once inside, the arsonists started fires in the bedrooms and corridors of the empty hotel.

Evidence against the suffragettes was found in the form of tie-on labels bearing inscriptions in ink in large capital letters with the slogan – “There can be no peace until women get the vote” and other similar declarations. These labels corresponded to similar labels in the possession of the suffragettes.

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