Elizabeth Garrett in Aldeburgh

Picture (c) by John Ashley Photography

Elizabeth Garrett was born in Whitechapel in 1836 one of 12 children. Her father owned a pawn-broker's shop in Whitechapel and also a corn and coal warehouse in Aldeburgh Suffolk. Such was his industry that all 12 children were able to enjoy the benefits of schooling. After meeting the feminist Emily Davies, Elizabeth decided that she wanted to join the world of men and work for a living rather than becoming a lady of leisure.

She chose medicine and attempted to enrol herself in a medical school, unsuccessfully. So instead she enrolled as a nursing student and began to secretly attend those classes intended for male doctors. There were of course complaints from the male students and Elizabeth was banned from attending the lectures. When asked why she wanted to become a doctor rather than a nurse she responded "Because I prefer to earn a thousand rather than twenty pounds a year".

Elizabeth continued her studies dissecting cadavers in her own bedroom when denied access to the dissecting rooms. She discovered a loop hole which meant that despite being female she was able to sit her apothecaries exam, which she passed (the Society of apothecaries changed their regulations immediately after stopping women from taking the exam). Despite all this opposition Elizabeth went onto establish a medical practice in London with her fathers help.

In 1902 Elizabeth retired back to Suffolk again living in Aldeburgh. In 1908 she stood for mayor of the town and was duly elected becoming the first woman mayor ever in England. Even into her seventies Elizabeth was still active in the suffragette movement and her daughter Louisa was jailed in 1912 for her militant suffragette activities. Cottages Home reach, coastguard court, sundial, poplars, high cottage.
  Picture (c)
                    by John Ashley Photography