The ‘suffragette’ medal awarded to Miss Nellie Godfrey, who was arrested and imprisoned for throwing a missile at Winston Churchill’s car in 1909, was offered by Dix Noonan Webb on January 13.
The silver medal was enamelled in the colours of the Women’s Social and Political Union, Mrs Pankhurst’s militant wing of the Edwardian suffrage movement. It was inscribed ‘Hunger Strike’, with ‘Nellie Godfrey’ on the reverse, the suspension bar dated ‘December 7th 1909’, and a ‘For Valour’ brooch bar.
The medal’s original case was inscribed, ‘Presented to Nellie Godfrey by the Women’s Social & Political Union in recognition of a gallant action, whereby through endurance to the last extremity of hunger and hardship a great principle of political justice was vindicated.’
At the time Churchill, the Member of Parliament for Dundee, was President of the Board of Trade, and was undertaking a campaign tour in the run-up to the January 1910 General Election.
Ahead of his address in Bolton, Miss Godfrey managed to break through the police cordon to throw a piece of iron at his car. The iron was wrapped in paper bearing the message ‘Thrown by a woman of England as a protest against the Government’s treatment of political prisoners.’
Appearing at Bolton Magistrates Court the following day, Miss Godfrey pleaded guilty, and was fined 40 shillings. Refusing to pay, she was sentenced to seven days’ imprisonment.
Very rare, the medal attracted a bid of £10,000.
Churchill was also hounded by suffragettes in Dundee and was once chased through its streets by the disenfranchised sisters. But the daughters of Dundee were fussy who they lobbed votes-for-women missiles at, reserving their ammunition for the visit of King George and Queen Mary in 1914!
Picture: Suffragette medal, £10,000 (Dix Noonan Webb).
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