Wightwick Manor: Art and Activism

Painting depicting Romeo leaning over Juliet, who is lying on a table.

To celebrate the many women (and a few men) who worked for gender equality through their artistic and activist endeavours and found a haven at Wightwick Manor, we are hosting a year-long programme in 2018 for you to discover more about their lives.

Art and Activism - Part of the Women and Power programme 

From the 1870s the Mander family were vocal supporters of women’s suffrage; held Suffragist meetings at Wightwick Manor; fought in parliament for women’s rights, especially for female domestic servants; and collected the work of 11 professional female artists (more than any other National Trust property), after they gave the manor to the Trust, to publicly exhibit the talents of these women. 

This year we are telling the stories of Florence Mander, Wolverhampton Women’s Suffragist Society supporter; Rosalie Mander, a writer, art collector and liberal candidate in 1930; Princess Sudhira Mander, who agitated for better Anglo-Indian relations and was associated (both pre-war and through Red Cross activism) with the Indian suffragette Princess Sophia Duleep Singh; Emma Smith, Wightwick’s housekeeper, who attended a lecture by activist Sarah Grand; and the professional Pre-Raphaelite artist, Lizzie Siddal. 

Our events this year include:

Half Term Crafts - Suffrage: 21 - 23 February 2018

Celebrate the 100 year anniversary of women gaining the vote by creating your own rosette. Which colour will you create? Will it be supporting the peaceful campaigns of the Suffragists such as Millicent Fawcett, or the militant Suffragettes like Emmeline Pankhurst? 11:30am - 3pm, no booking required, drop-in activity.

'Beyond Ophelia' Exhibition: 1 March - 24 December 2018

Only the second solo exhibition of her artwork, this exhibition reinstates Lizzie Siddal as an important and influential artist and poet. 'Beyond Ophelia' examines Siddal's style; subject matter; depiction of women; her influence on other artists; and the prejudice she faced as a professional female artist in the patriarchal Victorian art world.

Suffragist Drawing Room Meeting & Art and Activism Leaflet Guide: 1 March - 24 December 2018

Discover how the Mander family supported Women's Suffrage and use our leaflet guide to find out about the powerful stories of some of Wightwick's women and men in this object based trail.

Specialist Talk: Women Artists of the Pre-Raphaelites: Saturday 19 May 2018

Join the House and Collections Manager for a relaxed talk followed by a walking tour of the collection, featuring such artists as Evelyn De Morgan, Lizzie Siddal and Lucy Madox Brown. Booking Essential, £15 pp. See link for details.

Specialist Talk: The Pre-Raphaelites, Sex, Drugs & Poetry: Friday 15 June 2018

A tongue-in-cheek evening tour with a definite adult slant led by the House and Collections Manager. The stories we've always wanted to tell about The Pre-Raphaelite Circle and their associates but didn't dare! Over 18's only. Booking Essential, £15 pp. See link for details.

Specialist Talk: Suffrage & Wolverhampton's Fight for Women's Equality in the early 20th Century: Friday 20 & Saturday 21 July 2018.

A talk by art historian and Conservation Assistant, Hannah Squire, learn about the variety of deeds and words used by women in Wolverhampton to help further the cause of women's rights. Sit in the Drawing Room in the Manor, a location used historically by the Mander family to hold Suffragist meetings, as Hannah tells you about members of the local branch of the Women's Freedom League who campaigned as part of a national movement for women's suffrage. This will be followed by a short tour of the Manor, learning about the powerful women represented here at Wightwick. Booking Essential, £15 pp. See link for details.

'A Room of One's Own': Details and dates TBC