Crediton suffragette to feature in World War One drama

By Alan Quick   |   Editorial Manager/Photojournalist   |
Saturday 22nd September 2018 5:30 am
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Amy Montague in her wartime nurse’s uniform.

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A SUFFRAGETTE from Crediton will feature in “Echoes of Wartime” next month, a theatre production commemorating the end of the First World War.

Amy Montague, who lived with her family at Penton House in Crediton, was a founding member of the Exeter Women’s Social and Political Union, an organisation which campaigned for women’s rights.

She will be just one of the characters in “Echoes of Wartime”, an Anglo-German show based on the experiences of real people living in Crediton and the German town of Fulda during the Great War.

“Amy was a wealthy woman with a social conscience, who campaigned for women to get the vote,” said local writer Mary Stephenson, who explored the archives in Crediton and Fulda to gather stories about ordinary people living in the two towns.

“In creating this show we have explored the experiences and motivations of people in both Crediton and Fulda. It is striking how many similarities there were,” explained Mary.

“People in both towns felt an unquestionable duty to go and fight, they believed God was on their side. But of course people in both communities suffered terrible losses.”

Amy, who was married to a writer Leo Montague, had two sons and two daughters. Tragically both her sons were killed during the war.

“Amy was a committed suffragette and wrote to protest when Emmeline Pankhurst was imprisoned in Exeter,” explained Mary.

“I discovered that Amy’s name was missing on the 1911 census form although her husband and children were there.

“This is probably because, like many suffragettes, she refused to be counted because she didn’t have the vote.”

During the war the suffragettes agreed to stop campaigning and to support the war effort on the understanding that women would get the vote once the fighting stopped.

“Amy volunteered as a nurse and cared for wounded soldiers in hospitals in Exeter and Crediton,” said Mary.

In February 1918, just before the war ended, the Representation of the People Act was passed finally giving women over 30 the right to vote.

“Amy and Leo Montague were a very creative and interesting couple,” said Mary.

“Leo Montague was a great collector of artefacts and, after his death, donated his collection to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. He also wrote plays and stories for children.”

The poet Rupert Brooke was a friend of the Montague’s son, Paul. His poem “Dining Room Tea” was written after a visit to the Montagues in Penton House.

Other true life characters featured in “Echoes of Wartime” include Rev. Worthington Jukes, the eccentric vicar of Shobrooke, who lost a son in the war, and 14 year-old Charles Ware of East Street, who at the outbreak of war in 1914 pretended he was 18 in order to enlist.

The production is the result of three years collaboration between the Devon-based theatre company Common Players and two companies in Fulda, Theatre Mittendrin and FTF Theatre.

It will involve a professional cast of English and German actors, as well as local volunteers in each country.

In August the English and German actors spent five days together in Crediton devising and rehearsing the show. They will meet again for 10 days in early October to further rehearse the production, which will be performed first at Crediton Congregational Church from October 11 to 13 and then in Fulda on October 19 and 20.

More details can be found on the website: www. echoesofwartime.com .

Tickets are available online at: www.ticketsource.co.uk/common-players and from the Crediton Community Bookshop, 21 High Street, Crediton, telephone 01363 774740.

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