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Helen Watts

Tree planted by Helen Watts

Early Life

Helen Kirkpatrick Watts was a vicar’s daughter from Lenton, Nottinghamshire. She was born in 1881 and was blind in one eye and partially deaf. She lived in Nottinghamshire until 1911 when she moved to Somerset, living with her brother Neville in Chilcompton.


Helen joined the WSPU in 1907 and was first arrested in London in 1909 and again in Leicester disrupting a speech by Winston Churchill. She planted a Juniper at the Blathwayt Arrboretum on 17 March 1911.  She left the WSPU following the arson campaign joining the Women’s Freedom League.

Later Life

During the First World War, Helen was a nurse in Bath and she also worked in both the War Office and the Ministry of Labour.

Helen was one of the last suffragettes to visit Annie’s Arboretum. She visited in 1962, and although she could not find her plaque, she managed to locate her tree and cut a sprig of juniper.  A few years later she moved to Canada to live with a sister, but returned to the UK living in Hove, before she died in Chilcompton in 1972.

Nottinghamshire Archives has a collection of documents relating to her life including some of her speeches. In 2016, a Juniper Tree was planted in memory of her in Nottingham’s Arboretum. A local brewery also included her image on an ale to commemorate the centenary of the Representation of the People Act.   


Helen wrote to her mother from her cell: 'I’m afraid it will come as a great shock to you to see my name in the paper. I was the second to be arrested.'

Mrs Watts replied 'I couldn’t say that your letter was altogether a surprise to me, for it had crossed my mind more than once before that you might think it your duty to do as you have done.'