“…symbolic of clarity, self-reflection, protection…”*

*(flowermeaning.com): “The generic name Gardenia is named in honor of Alexander Garden (1730-1791) of Charleston, South Carolina who was a botanist, zoologist, physician, and correspondent to John Ellis, zoologist, and Carolus Linnaeus, who devised the classification of genus/species we presently used today.”

From: The Changing Scene (1937), by Arthur Calder-Marshall:

“The suffragettes had been bribed into good conduct during the Coronation by promises of reform. But in 1913 it became obvious that nothing was to be expected from the Liberal Party, despite its promises and its avowed policy of freedom and progress. Attacks on property followed, these attacks being justified as the necessary means of obtaining a hearing. Viscountess Rhondda gives an amusing account of an aunt of hers, whose greatest interest in life was her garden, but who was impelled to go to London for ‘the cause’ and smash a window in Swan and Edgar’s. This lady, who had been brought up to respect property all her life, said that when she smashed that window, she smashed very much more, her whole view of life.”

From Wikipedia:

“The premises (of Swan and Edgar’s) – now 1, Piccadilly Circus – were rebuilt and integrated in 1910–20 to a design by Sir Reginald Blomfield with the interior designed by Murray Adams-Acton. It became a popular place of assignation for Londoners for many generations: under the clock outside the department store, or sometimes the restaurant on the first floor, were often cited as meeting places. The store sold very high quality goods including the popular Merrythought teddy bear. The shop-front was one of the West End businesses targeted by the Suffragettes in their window-breaking spree on 21 November 1911. The store was hit in the last Zeppelin raid on London in 1917 and again rebuilt and remodelled in 1919, by Louis David Blanc and John James Joass…”

“A toffee hammer is a very small hammer designed for breaking up sheets or slabs of hard toffee, such as bonfire toffee, into small pieces suitable for consumption. A toffee hammer is sometimes included as a novelty item in gift packs produced by toffee manufacturers.
Toffee hammers were used by suffragettes, in particular members of the Women’s Social and Political Union, for breaking windows as a form of protest during their campaign for votes for women.
The term “toffee hammer” may also be used to refer to any unusually small hammer, for example in orthopedic surgery, or to a scaffolder’s tool that resembles a toffee hammer.”

Elizabeth Crawford writes at womanandhersphere.com:

The Gardenia Restaurant, at 6 Catherine Street, Covent Garden (pictured) – off the north-western curve of the Aldwych – was, between c 1908 and 1913, a vegetarian cafe much frequented by suffragettes. Unlike Alan’s Tea Rooms – in Oxford Street – and the Criterion – at Piccadilly Circus – the Gardenia was situated in the heart of militant suffrage territory. The Women’s Freedom League headquarters lay just south of the Strand in Robert Street and those of the WSPU just to the east of Aldwych in Clement’s Inn.

The Gardenia was opened c 1908 by Thomas Smith, a young man from Morpeth, who lived with his wife and two children in rooms above the restaurant…No 6 Catherine Street, a tall, rather dramatic, building, had been erected in 1905 and it is likely that the Gardenia was one of its first tenants. Its frontage of stone-banded red brick echoes that used in the construction of no 2 – which was designed in 1902 by the editor of the Builder, as offices for the journal. By now this corner of Covent Garden was taking on a rather Arts and Craftsy look – making it just the place for a vegetarian restuarant.

…the company accounts reveal that they hired out upper rooms in the building to societies whoe interests would seem to coincide with their own – for instance, to the Syndicalists, to a Vegetarian Club, to the National Union of Shop Assistants, and to the University Fabian Society.

The militant suffrage societies also figure regularly in the Gardenia’s accounts as customers for the hired rooms. In her autobiography, My Own Story, Mrs Pankhurst refers to the Gardenia as a place where many WSPU breakfasts and teas were held – and the accounts show specific hirings of rooms by the WFL (for instance,7 March 1912, 5 guineas). In fact the Gardenia seems to have been a particular favourite with the WFL, which did its best to advertise the delights of the restaurant. The Gardenia was included in The Vote Directory –the WFL newspaper’s list of recommended retailers – and was written up in the 6 May 1911 issue when – in the course of a suffragists’ shopping day – the author has tea at the Gardenia – ’a fragrant cup of tea and some cress sandwiches made with Hovis bread’ – [Hovis was also advertised in The Vote]’ –reporting that ‘she would eat no other.’In 1912 the WFL rented a room in the Gardenia in which to hold its weekly discussions – on such subjects as ‘Jane Eyre and its relation to the Woman’s Movement’ and Mrs Brownlow on ‘Local Government’ and on 17 February 1912 three of the Gardenia’s floors were hired by the WFL for a fundraising sit-down supper, with dancing and performances by the Actresses’ Franchise League.

…on 2 April 1911 – census night – the Gardenia’s management allowed the restaurant to be used by suffragettes attempting to evade the enumerator. One census schedule for 6 Catherine Street shows Thomas Smith, the manager, in his flat there that night with his wife and two children, together with the restaurant manageress, two waitresses, a male chef, female cook, a male baker and a kitchen maid. But a separate Gardenia schedule, completed by the Census Office from information supplied by the police, shows that the restaurant was packed with 200 women and 30 men. These defiant evaders had moved to the Gardenia at c 3.30 am for breakfast, having spent the earlier part of the night in the Aldwych Skating Rink.

A year later the Gardenia again played its part in a dramatic WSPU publicity campaign when, on the night of 4 March 1912, women taking part in a WSPU-organinised window-smashing campaign gathered there. In her autobiography Mrs Pankhurst notes that the police thought that about 150 women went to the Gardenia that evening, arriving in twos and threes from a large meeting at the London Pavilion at Piccadilly Circus. They were followed to the restaurant by a number of detectives who then waited around outside in Catherine Street And what was it that the women were doing in the Gardenia?

At the ensuing trial Miss Jessie McPherson, a still-room maid, testifed that on the following day, 5 March, she found a dozen on so stones – on one of which was written ‘Votes for Women’ – lying in a grate in a big room on the second-floor. Godfrey Hastings, the Gardenia’s major shareholder, gave evidence that the room had been engaged by the WSPU for the afternoon and evening of 29 February and 1 and 4 March – at a charge of 45 shillings on each occasion.

The evidence pointed to the Gardenia as the WSPU’s ammunition arming station. Once they had received their supply of stones, the suffragettes led the police a merry dance.

One policeman testified that he followed Miss Wolff van Sandau and Miss Katie Mills as they left the Gardenia, went to an ironmonger’ shop in Covent Garden and then walked to Westminster, along Victoria Street to the Howick Street Post Office, where the former broke a window with a hammer and the latter with stones. It transpired in court that it was at the Covent Garden ironmongers, with the policeman in tow, that they had bought the hammer.

Another policeman reported that on 4 March he waited outside the Gardenia Restaurant for three women [Nellie Crocker, Miss Roberts and Miss Taylor]. When they emerged he followed along the Strand, to Charing Cross and then on District Line to Royal Court Theatre. A few minutes after the performance began they left and went along to 9 King’s Road – a post office – where they smashed the plate glass windows with three hammers.

Another policeman followed Elizabeth Thompson and another woman from the Gardenia to Parliament Square,where Miss Thompson threw a stone at a window of Home Office.

There does not appear to have been any legal repercussions for the Gardenia but, sadly, despite support from the suffrage movement, the business could not be made to pay and the restaurant closed in March 1913…”

From the blog of the National Archives:

“…On the day of the raids, the police were prepared for the attack. Plain-clothed Special Branch police officers were positioned outside the Gardenia restaurant, ready to pursue anyone who came out. Detective Edmund Buckley describes keeping a close watch on the restaurant from 17:00.

‘Between that time and 6:30 a number of women went in, in twos and threes– they went upstairs to the second floor. From about half past 6 to about quarter past 7 I saw various small parties of women leaving.’

Edmund decided to follow two women – identified as Alice Angus Wilson and Morrie Hughes – down to Whitehall, where he saw Wilson ‘take her hand out of her muff and throw a stone at the ground floor window’. She was immediately arrested by another officer.

On their stones or hammers were often phrases: Lillian Ball’s hammer had the words ‘Better broken windows than broken promises’.

In another statement, Detective Ernest Bowen describes seeing three women come out of the restaurant and walk towards Charing Cross tube station, followed by a crowd of about 20 people and some uniformed policemen. After getting a tube to King’s Road they proceeded to walk down it until they got to the post office: ‘All 3 suddenly ran to the window and smashed it’…”

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