Voices: Women of Influence at Ashridge

Three of the five women who have made their mark at Ashridge

From 3 March 2018 – February 2019 the exhibition Voices: Women of Influence at Ashridge explores the impact of five women on the Ashridge Estate.

Creating the exhibition

The team at Ashridge have curated this exhibition to celebrate the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act. We look back over the past 200 years of Estate history and highlight women from all walks of life who have made their mark here.

Meet the women

The stories include that of Miss Bridget Talbot, the niece of Earl Brownlow who was instrumental in the acquisition of the Ashridge Estate by the National Trust in 1926. Her determination to save the estate led to her handing a letter to the Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin asking for support. As a result of this letter many donations were received allowing the estate to be preserved.

We also look at Miss Sydney Renée Courtauld, a well-known Suffragette and philanthropist who helped to save the Estate through a generous anonymous donation. 

Autumn view through a woodland alley, Ashridge Estate

Sydney Renee Courtauld 

Sydney Renée Courtauld (1873-1962) was a social reformer and philanthropist dedicated to improving women’s access to education. She helped secure part of the present Ashridge Estate for the National Trust.

We look back to Lady Marian Alford, who in 1851 took over the running of the Ashridge Estate after the death of her husband John Hume Cust. She had a profound influence on the estate and surrounding villages, commissioning - a number of cottages, alms houses and schools on the estate.

In more recent history, we feature Margaret Cleaver, a former custodian of the Monument. She and her husband moved into Monument Cottage in 1967 under a ‘service tenancy’ and are still there today.

Looking to the future, we emphasise the work of the women on the estate today, such as Area Ranger Chrissy Hardy who joined the team in 2008 when it was unusual for women to work in forestry. She talks of inspiring the next generation of young women to ‘just go for it’.

Interactive elements

There is a replica ballot box for you to vote for the most influential woman, as well as the opportunity for children to dress in 1920’s attire.

The exhibition is held in the Visitor Centre until Feb 2019 and is open daily 10am-5pm.