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Helen Cave

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The last tree to be planted in Annie's Arboretum was on March 10 1912. The tree was a Holly and the woman planting it is simply recorded as 'Mrs Cave' who the Blathwayts' diaries reveal as one of their Bath suffragette circle and the wife of a local surgeon.

This seems likely to be the same Helen Cassandra Cave who the Evening Standard reported as being one of 200 women arrested on 21 November 1911. The Standard described her as from Bath. Aethel Tollemache, another one of the Bath suffragettes was also arrested.  

The Standard describes 'wild riots by women' and an 'orgy of disorder at Westminster'. After a meeting at Caxton Hall, suffragettes marched to Parliament, the Standard describing 'a glare of flashlight photographs coming through the fog from the direction of Victoria Street.' The suffragettes tried to break through a police cordon into the lobby of the House of Commons. 

Others carried out window smashing in the West End, including Somerset House and the Lyons café at Charing Cross.  The Standard reported that the women were aiming to get arrested as quickly as possible, waiting until a constable was near before attacking a building. Others chained themselves to the railings of the National Liberal Club. 

Helen Cave was taken to the Cannon Row Police Station, where, because of the many arrests, women were taken in six at a time. Her appearance at this station, rather than Bow Street, suggests she was one of the women attacking Parliament.  Emily Blathwayt recorded in her diary that 'Aethel telegraphed "14 days! Hurrah!" I wonder if she will come out madder than she went in. Mrs Cave has a shorter term. I do think it is wrong for anyone in her position to act like this. It is dreadful for her husband.' 

The diaries also show that Helen initially declined to plant a 'prison tree' and left the WSPU in April 1912 because she disagreed with rising militancy. 

Mary Blathwayt's diary of 1911 records how Mrs Cave had organised the rooms being used to evade the census at 12 Lansdown Crescent. The Evaders enjoyed talks, violin recitals and a lecture on Clairvoyance. Mary herself took oranges and bananas 'for Mrs Cave'. Emily Blathwayt records a visit from Mrs Cave in her diary where they toasted muffins in the drawing room. 

There is a reference to a Mrs Cave living at 16, the Circus, Bath in 1905, in an archaeological society pamphlet. 

If you have any further information about Helen Cave please let us know.