Rose Lamartine Yates

Rose Lamartine Yates was a prominent suffragette who lived at Dorset Hall in Merton from 1906 to 1935. She lived there with her husband, Tom, until his death in 1929 and her son, Paul, who went to university in 1926.

At the age of twenty-one, Rose studied modern languages at Royal Holloway College,Egham. She passed the Oxford Final Honours Exam in modern languages and philology but was not entitled to be awarded a degree due to her gender.

Rose felt that she had had an enlightened upbringing and indeed her mother, Pauline Janau, had a very keen perception of what was wrong with the position of women in society. Once Rose married she began to study law with her husband Tom, who was a solicitor and she was able to assist him in his practice. Rose never felt that her gender was a disadvantage and during her marriage, she was treated very much as an equal.

During World War One, Rose organised a soup kitchen for the poor at 9 Victoria Crescent, Wimbledon. This served hot meals at the lowest possible price, twice a day. Another soup kitchen was also opened at 119 Merton High Street, where Rose acted as Treasurer.

After the War ended in 1918, Rose stood as an independent candidate in the London County Council election for the North Lambeth division. She won the seat and then spent time raising funds to set up a school clinic and to improve conditions fofr poor women and children in her ward.

By the 1930s women had voting rights in Britain and women’s organisations were finding a worldwide voice. Rose became involved in the Women’s Consultative Committee of the League of Nations in 1932.

She died in 1954, having established the Women’s Record House full of her collection of suffragette memorabilia. Most of the collection has survived and forms the basis of the Suffragette collection at the Women’s Library.