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International Women’s Day at Sudley

3 March 2014 by Louise

Picture of Emma Holt as a child

Young Emma Holt

International Women’s Day has been recognised since the early 1900s and is now officially takes place on 8 March every year. The day celebrates the social, political and economic achievements that women have made and also highlights the areas that need attention.

Sudley House have two tours this Saturday to mark International Women’s Day, both of which focus on significant women that bear connection to the house. At 1pm there will be a talk about Emma Holt, daughter of Elizabeth and George Holt who owned and lived in Sudley from 1884; there will also be a talk at 11am on French artist, Rosa Bonheur, some of whose work is on display at the house.

Emma Holt devoted her life to benefaction; she became especially linked with developments in the welfare of women students at the University College Liverpool, which became the University of Liverpool in 1903.

Emma became the principal organiser of a voluntary committee which raised funds for the building of a hostel for women students in 1898. Her commitment to this scheme ensured that in 1899 the University Hall was opened. The residences were located in the then fashionable area of Edge Lane near Wavertree Botanical Gardens.

During the early years of the First World War, Emma was approached to help find premises for a local auxiliary hospital. Emma headed a committee which established the Crofton Auxiliary Hospital in 1917. During those last two years of the war, the hospital tended to over 650 patients.

Emma lived at Sudley until 1940 when, due to ill health, she moved to the family’s country home in Cumbria where she stayed until her death 1944.

In her will, Emma left Sudley House and its collection of paintings to Liverpool and stipulated that the collection was to remain together at Sudley. Substantial amounts of money were even left to Emma’s maid, cook and secretary.

Sudley’s earlier talk on Saturday will focus on Rosa Bonheur, a French artist who was known for her paintings of animals and rural scenes. Bonheur lived by her brush and defied stereotypes of 19th century women. A talented artist, Bonheur created paintings that were often huge in scale, lived for over 40 years with a childhood friend called Nathalie Micas, chain smoked cigarettes and more often than not, wore men’s clothing.

Learn more about both of these remarkable women on Saturday at Sudley’s talks.

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