Women’s Wisdom

From witches and wives’ tales to female pioneers, Cambridge has a history of extraordinary women, often unrecognized in the patriarchies of power. Alongside the notable women of Cambridge including Florence Ada Keys, the first women elected to Cambridge Council and first female magistrate, who competed the Guildhall and founded Citizens Advice Bureau; Eglantyne Webb who founded Save the Children; WWI code breaker Margaret Darwin; Leah Manning member of Parliament; Emily Davies founder of Girton College; and Clara Rackham who chaired the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, under Millicent Fawcett, and founded the Cambridge Women’s Co-operative Guild, are the working women, ‘formidable Cambridge nannies’, and house wives, whose wisdom permeates this city.

The venue of choice for important speeches on women’s rights by the Women’s Institute following the second World War, The UNIVERSITY ARMS, CAMBRIDGE has a fascinating history of female leadership and creativity. It was owned and run collectively by the Hewitt sisters in1890 and hosted an artists’ studios in its yard, run by Miss Caroline Long and Miss Whitehead from the year 1887 to 1898.

Revered and feared in equal measure, the female Pythia of ancient oracle opened up a future world – a world none the less dominated by men. As Baroness Wotton of Abinger declared at the University Arms Hotel on 9 July 1962, ‘you see the modern young couple and you see that the man is still holding her by the hand and the man is still pointing to the future – one day that picture will be the other way round.’