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The Landmark London, formerly known as the Grand Central Hotel, hosted a “Welcome Back from Prison” feast for this famous suffragette…

On March 20, 1908, the courtyard of the Grand Central Hotel, known today as the Landmark London, was buzzing with celebratory energy as a procession of suffragettes escorted Emmeline Pankhurst to a “welcome back from prison” breakfast. Pankhurst, arrested three months earlier for inciting an attempt to rush the House of Commons, had been released the previous day from Holloway Prison. As was the standard practice of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), those who served terms of imprisonment with hunger-strike were celebrated with a breakfast reception on their release and military-style campaign medals were presented to honor their exceptional service and sacrifice.

Emmeline Pankhurst and Hunger Strike Medal
Left: Emmeline Pankhurst, c. 1908 in prison clothes; Right: Suffragette Hunger Strike Medal

Pankhurst’s breakfast was celebrated in the hotel’s ballroom which retained many of its original features to this day. The ballroom was notably located on the right-hand side of the hotel, which contained more masculine touches like heavy and dark wood paneling (as opposed to the left-side which emphasized lighter, feminine details and intricate plasterwork). That the suffragettes selected the ballroom for their celebration is a fitting reminder of their rebellion against society’s expectations of what a women should be.

Suffragette Parade passing through Parliament Square March 19 1908

Suffragette Parade for Emmeline Pankhurst passing through Parliament Square on March 19, 1908

Pictures of banquets held in the ballroom around this time and menus suggest the guests would have sat in an angular horseshoe shape and feasted on popular British breakfast fare of the day such as kippers and kedgeree between rousing bouts of inspirational speeches. Today guests can toast to these courageous women while enjoying brunch at the hotel’s Winter Garden, located in the stunning atrium which was once the courtyard where Pankhurst arrived via horse-drawn carriage.

Landmark London Ballroom circa 1908

The Landmark London Ballroom, circa 1908

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The Landmark London, formerly known as the Grand Central Hotel, hosted a “Welcome Back from Prison” feast for this famous suffragette…

  1. Emily Davison
  2. Susan B. Anthony
  3. Emmeline Pankhurst
  4. Edith Garrud
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