“Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Jujitsu Suffragette”

The Weaver Hall Museum in Cheshire, U.K. will be hosting this event between 2.00 – 5.00 on Saturday, Jan. 26th.  According to the organisers:

In 1899 a young woman and her husband go to see a demonstration by one Edward Barton-Wright, the first jujutsu instructor in Europe.

But how does she then become implicated in brawling between campaigners for the Women’s Vote and the police?

And what is the connection to the great fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes and his escape from the Reichenbach Falls?

We’ll be unfolding the legend of Edith Garrud, and taking a very physical look at how the Victorians combined English boxing, Japanese grappling and walking stick fencing, with the use of whatever came to hand, from umbrellas to bicycles, to create an early mixed martial art for street defence.

More on the event via their Facebook page.

Unveiling of Edith Garrud’s plaque in London

Edith Garrud’s great-great-great-grandniece and namesake poses with a replica of the plaque commemorating her ancestor, and with her toy octopus friend.

On a sunny Saturday in June 2012, around 70 people congregated around the steps of a house in a smart square in London to celebrate the life of a brave woman who had once lived there; Edith Margaret Garrud, the jujitsu trainer of the Bodyguard corps of the British Suffragette movement circa 1910-1913. Two of the people present had known Edith Garrud; her grand daughters Jenny Cooper and Sybil Evans. To them, she was just Nana.

There was a group of about fifteen members of the Garrud family, many of them from Sheffield in the North of England who had travelled 200 miles to be present at the unveiling of the relative none of them had met. They said they were inspired by her courage and wanted to be part of the ceremony. I met people from one of the London Judo societies and several women proud of their Suffragette predecessors who had helped women to take their place in today’s society. A young boxing enthusiast was clear that Edith and her companions had made it possible for her to be accepted as a boxer today.

As the appointed time for the unveiling approached, the photographer
marshalled groups of family supporters, descendents and others into groups to record the event for the local newspaper and to make pictures for a permanent display of the achievements of Islington people. Although too little to understand much of what was happening today, young Edie will surely grow up to be proud of the ancestor whose name she carries.

At last the photographs were over and the crowd gathered round under the green veil which covered the plaque to listen to a short speech from the Leader of Islington Council. She spoke a little about the Suffragette movement and the equality they sought. She reminded us that the council is trying to promote encourage equality today, between the residents on the west side of Caledonian Road who live on £10,000 a year and those so near on the east side such as the area of Thornhill Square where houses may sell for £2 million. She thanked local Councillors for attending this celebration, and then asked one of the relatives to say a few words. As this was unexpected, I managed only to thank Tony Wolf who started all of this and Islington Council for all of their efforts with the Plaque, and then turned back to the Leader to unveil the Plaque.

There were more photographs, the green baize curtains revealed the Plaque, and after a round of applause most people moved across the road to St Andrews church to enjoy cups of tea and cakes and a good opportunity to find out who else had come to the celebration. Around the walls of the church room there were panels prepared by Islington illustrating the Suffragette movement, there was also a large copy of the Punch cartoon and a family tree showing where Edith fitted into the Williams/Garrud/Jones/Deamer families. After an hour or so of meeting new friends and distant relatives people began to drift away for some long journeys home. I walked with two members of the Jones family whom I had met first 25 years ago and not seen since, and with a few more fond farewells the party was over.

We went home remembering something of Edith’s life and proud of her achievements and our association with her.

Thanks to Martin Williams, a descendent of Edith Garrud’s, for both organising the commemorative plaque project and for writing this guest post.

Edith Garrud: the votes are in!

As reported in this earlier post, the Islington Borough Council recently ran a poll to determine which five of ten candidates, all former residents of, or events associated with Islington, should be commemorated with permanent memorial plaques.

We’re pleased to announce that suffragette and jujitsu pioneer Edith Garrud was among the top five candidates. The final results were:

– John Wright (founder of the Angel Theatre) – 634 votes
– Author Douglas Adams – 489 votes
– Suffragette Edith Garrud – 356 votes
– The Peasants’ Revolt at Highbury – 290 votes
– Boat club pioneer Crystal Hale – 274 votes

Edith Garrud may have been among the original female students of the Bartitsu Club in Shaftesbury Avenue. She later ran her own jujitsu school and became the chief trainer of the Suffragette Bodyguard, the group of twenty-five women who volunteered to physically protect the leaders of their movement from arrest and assault. Her achievements are recorded in the book Edith Garrud: the suffragette who knew jujutsu.

The results of the Islington Borough Council’s poll are now available online and her plaque will be unveiled later this year. We will endeavour to post updates regarding the unveiling ceremony.

Thanks to all who voted and congratulations to Edith Garrud’s descendants, who lobbied for her inclusion in the People’s Plaques scheme.