Unbind the Wing: The suffragists of Bodnant Garden

Beneath the manicured lawns and flower-filled terraces of Bodnant Garden is a history of powerful, politically driven women who campaigned long and hard for their right to vote. Laura McLaren who inherited the garden and estate in 1895 was a force of nature; not just an acclaimed gardener but a formidable businesswoman, writer and political lobbyist. Her mother Agnes Pochin was a pioneer of women’s suffrage, who published the ground-breaking Right of Women to Exercise the Elective Franchise in 1855; and her mother-in-law Priscilla Bright-McLaren was a leading early campaigner against slavery. Together the extended Pochin, Bright and McLaren families were at the forefront of the movement for women’s suffrage. In 2018 we marked the centenary of Votes for Women in Britain by shining a light on their story with 'Unbind the Wing', a programme of theatre, art, music, horticulture and community projects.

Henry and Agnes Pochin of Bodnant Garden

The Pochin family 

Henry and Agnes Pochin, founders of the Bodnant Garden we know today, shared a radical Liberal, non-conformist background and were passionate about social change.

Helen McLaren, Duncan McLaren, John Bright, Priscilla Bright-McLaren and Charles McLaren

The Bright family 

Bodnant Garden's illustrious in-laws: A campaigning Quaker family who fought against slavery and the Corn Laws.

Laura and Charles McLaren of Bodnant Garden

The McLarens 

A meeting of hearts, minds and dynasties, the Pochin-Bright-McLaren family became one of the country's most powerful forces for political change.

A year of celebration