#motorhomes, Beaulieu, Black Knowl, Brockenhurst, camc, caravan and motorhome club, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Christopher Macgowan, Hampshire, Ian Fleming, motorhome, motorhomenews, National Motor Museum, Roald Dahl, The New Forest
A delightful stay in The New Forest this week at the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s Black Knowl site near Brockenhurst; as you can see, the autumn colours are now well advanced.
A visit to the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu and a glimpse of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the soon to be opened 50 years Celebration Exhibit. Ian Fleming will always be remembered for James Bond but he wrote the story for his son Caspar with Roald Dahl – and the film’s director Ken Hughes authoring the screenplay. (Blogger David Bird kindly sent me a photo of Chitty towing a caravan so the car is even more famous than you might think!)
A lovely week indeed!
I was staying at Black Knowl this week.
It has recently received a massive upgrade, has 127 pitches and is located in Hampshire in the midst of the ancient royal hunting forest of William the Conqueror. Hugely popular with people who want to get away from it all and who want to use the 140 miles of nearby track for walking or cycling.
It also offers a car charging point – is this the future?
#motorhomes, @CAMCCollection, @motorhmenews, Amy Sharp, Angela Willis, Beaulieu, camc, Caravan Club, Christopher Macgowan, Clayton, Emmeline Pankhurst, Hampshire, Herbert Asquith, Lady Denman, Lilley and Skinner, Louise Lilley, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, motorhomenews, National Motor Museum, suffrage, Suffrage Movement, Susan Susie Hardy, WPSU
The Caravan Club was formed of one third of women members before the First World War.
SOURCE: Angela Willis – Curator, Caravan and Motorhome Club Collection.
In 1907 The Caravan Club of Great Britain and Ireland was formed (today known as the Caravan and Motorhome Club), with an aim to represent the interests of the rapidly growing number of horse-drawn leisure caravanners. Unlike the many clubs of the Edwardian era which only admitted men, this modern and progressive organisation was made up of around one third of female members in the years before the First World War.
An extract from The Caravan Club’s 1913 list of members.
The formative years of The Caravan Club coincided with the growing momentum of the suffrage campaign which sought to gain equal voting rights for women. I have been keen to discover whether suffragists (those who campaigned using peaceful methods such as lobbying) or even suffragettes (who used militant and often unlawful campaign tactics) sat among the third of women listed in the ranks of the Club. As pioneering leisure caravanners these women broke social moulds, they often toured the country in female-only parties and enjoyed outdoor pursuits more traditionally reserved for men. Surely it would stand to reason that some would be involved in the most significant political movement of a generation?
At the Club’s Collection of historic material held here at the National Motor Museum, there are two hugely significant documents which have been key to unlocking the stories of our early Club members. Two printed lists from 1910 and 1913 contain the names and addresses of each member including writers, artists, eminent surgeons and heroes of the First World War. I recently set about uncovering if supporters of the suffrage movement also sat among them and I made several fascinating discoveries.
A WSPU Hunger Strike Medal presented to Louise Lilley. Courtesy of the Museum of London.
The most remarkable story springs from a listing for Miss Louise Lilley of Holland House, Clacton-on-Sea which appeared in The Caravan Club’s 1913 List of Members. Daughter of co-owner of the Lilley and Skinner shoe brand, Louise was Secretary of the Clacton branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) and was therefore a ‘suffragette’. As such, she was to become central to the militant campaign tactics promoted by the founders of the organisation Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters. On the 9th March 1912 Louise, along with her sister Kate, appeared in court at Bow Street charged with breaking windows at the War Office – one of many similar attacks which took place on the same night. The hearing was reported in Votes for Women, the official organ of the WSPU, the following week:
‘Miss Kate Lilley and Louise were charged with breaking windows at the war office, and a constable produced some flint stones as big as a man’s fist. Counsel for the defence stated that his clients were the daughters of a well-known Essex gentleman, and they felt they had a deep grievance against the government. Defendants were each sentenced to two months hard labour.’
Imprisoned in Holloway, like many other suffragette prisoners they suffered a short period of hunger strike as a protest that they were not being treated as political prisoners. On their release the sisters were presented with a Holloway brooch and hunger strike medal from the WSPU, with their homecoming being reported in the Chelmsford Chronicle: ‘A big crowd has assembled, and the appearance of the Misses Lilley, who looked none the worse for their novel experience, was greeted with loud cheers’.
Caravan Club member and suffrage campaigner Lady Denman. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery.
In contrast to the exploits of Miss Lilley, fellow Club member Lady Denman of Balcombe Place in Sussex belonged to a group of suffrage supporters who were deeply opposed to the increasing militancy of the WSPU. In 1908 the young Lady Denman was elected to the Executive of the Women’s Liberal Federation who took a constitutional approach to campaigning. They were shocked at the WSPU’s tactics of targeting Liberal politicians, including keen anti-suffragist Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, yet they worked tirelessly to promote the cause for voting equality amongst their own party.
However, Lady Denman’s involvement with the campaign ended abruptly when in 1911 her husband was called to become Government-General of Australia, a country which has granted votes for women nine years earlier. Although her role in the British suffrage campaign was cut short she later returned to the UK and in 1917 was elected as the first Chairman of the newly formed National Federation of Women’s Institutes for which she is best known.
Research has also uncovered Caravan Club members who took active roles in local branches of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), another non-militant organisation headed by Millicent Garrett Fawcett. These include suffragist Miss Susan ‘Susie’ Hardy who became Secretary of the Salisbury branch of the NUWSS when it was founded in 1909. Also, Miss Amy Sharp, Chairman of the Ambleside and District NUWSS branch who achieved great success in gaining support for the cause in her area.
I was delighted to uncover these women’s stories and discover that both suffragettes and suffragists formed the ranks of The Caravan Club. Despite these women representing different organisations with varying opinions on how the vote should be won, all worked to achieve the equality at the polling station which we enjoy today.
Throughout 2018 the Caravan and Motorhome Club Collection will be commemorating 100 years of votes for women by exploring the theme of the caravan and the Suffrage campaign in a series of blogs. Keep up to date with the Collection on Twitter @CAMCCollection
Crawford, E. 1999. The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928. London: University College London Press.
Huxley, G. 1961. Lady Denman. London: Chatto and Windus.
Stone, J.H. 1913. Caravanning & Camping Out. London: Herbert Jenkins.
Note: This research was carried out by Angela Willis who is the Curator of the Caravan and Motorhome Club collection at Beaulieu. The Club has a display stand within the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu where many items of historical interest are on show.
Written by Kari Herbert
In a nutshell
The grand family home of the motoring-mad Montagu family in the New Forest and the site of one of the finest collections of cars, motorbikes and motoring memorabilia in the world. There are more than 250 vehicles on display, from early motor carriages and 1920s “gangster” cars to legendary land-speed record breakers and motoring marvels, such as a giant orange on wheels. There’s also a full-size caravan made from Lego and familiar TV show cars, too, such as Del Boy’s Reliant Regal from Only Fools and Horses and Wallace and Gromit’s Anti-Pesto van.
There are costumes to try on, cars to climb into, knobs to turn and buttons to press and a new interactive crash-test-dummy challenge. Jack Tucker’s garage recreates the sounds and smells of the 1930s and in the “World of Top Gear” there’s all sorts of crazy contraptions created for the TV show.
Beaulieu was a top secret base for special agents during the second world war. More than 3,000 spies were trained here before undertaking daring missions behind enemy lines.
Best thing(s) about it.
The monorail at the museum. We loved riding the monorail high above the gardens of the abbey and, ingeniously, through the roof of the motor museum itself. But getting up close to the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was our daughter’s favourite.
The abbey and the gardens are stunning, and have a brilliant new Alice in Wonderland topiary display. There are fascinating exhibits for budding spies in the Secret Army exhibition and in Palace House costumed guides make you feel as though you are guests of the family – you may even see the cook rustling up a favourite family dish in the newly-restored Victorian kitchen.
What about lunch?
There’s a covered picnic area and benches beside the children’s Dipstick playground. Alternatively, the Brabazon Cafe serves good food using produce from the estate gardens: a kid’s picnic or hot meal, such as jacket potato or fish and chips, costs £4.75; a kids’ hot chocolate with smarties costs £1.75; adult meals, such as large salads from the deli, start at £7.50 (soup £4.60) and a cream tea is £2.50.
Exit through the gift shop?
Yes, with a huge selection of model cars, books and motor-themed gifts, as well as homeware, clothing and toys. A radio-controlled Ferrari costs £39.99 while pocket-money-priced toys, such as pencils and rubber balls start at £1.
Travel by train, ferry or bus for all or part of your journey to Beaulieu and you get 20% off standard admission. Take the train from London Waterloo to Brockenhurst, or the Hythe Ferry across Southampton Water to Hythe. The New Forest Tour’s green route links Beaulieu with Hythe Ferry, Lyndhurst, Brockenhurst and Lymington. By car, take junction 2 off the M27 and follow signs to Beaulieu.
Value for money?
It’s pricey, but you could easily spend a full day here. Advance tickets cost £19.50 adult and £9.50 child, for entrance to The National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, Palace House and gardens, Beaulieu Abbey, the Secret Army Exhibition and unlimited rides on the monorail and veteran bus. Under 5s are free.
Open daily 10am-6pm (27 May-24 September) and 10am-5pm (25 September onwards, closed Christmas Day).
8/10, well put together and a great family day out.
This week I have been at Black Knowl Caravan Club site in Hampshire – and what an outstanding site it is.
It is set within the ancient royal hunting forest of William the Conqueror which is now a National Park and is within walking distance of Brockenhurst. This is very much a site for the walker and the cyclist with some 140 miles of track nearby. It has an open aspect and you really do feel you are in the middle of nowhere. Indeed, it is so isolated there is no WiFi as the copper wire from the exchange is of such a length that it cannot cope with broadband.
A second New Forest attraction has been hailed as one of the nation’s best attractions. The Beaulieu attraction, home of Lord Montagu and the National Motor Museum, has been given top marks from VisitEngland which praised it for giving a full day’s visit of educational as well as entertainment value offered in an attractive historic setting which is maintained to an exceptionally high standard.
The gold accolade was awarded to Beaulieu as a result of the most recent Visitor Attraction Quality Scheme audit in August. Its report concluded that Beaulieu is an outstanding visitor attraction with the many elements to its offering being individually interesting, fun and well presented; collectively adding up to a full and satisfying day out for visitors.
The range of content far exceeded expectation both in variety and sheer scale, from stately home to a Top Gear experience, from an enormous car and motorbike display to an exhibition on Beaulieu’s secret role in the Second World War.
Commercial Director, Stephen Munn, said: “We are delighted to receive further affirmation of the quality of the Beaulieu attraction and its staff and the level of customer care shown to our visitors, maintaining the standard that saw the attraction being given the top award in the large Visitor Attraction of the Year category at the 2013 VisitEngland Awards for Excellence.
“It is a great accolade for the New Forest that two of its leading visitor attractions, Beaulieu and Paultons Park, have been awarded this premier standard, out of only ten so far awarded nationwide.”
The Caravan Club’s Rookesbury Park site near Fareham in Hampshire is a gem.
I stayed there this week and it must have one of the most welcoming approaches on the network because as you top the rise at the entrance you see the whole site set out before you in wonderful parkland on the floor of the valley. The former royal Forest of Bere is the setting and it is really handy for Portsmouth and Southampton and indeed has a special area for ferry users arriving out of hours.
It is one of the many sites where you need to follow the directions in the Club’s handbook with scrupulous accuracy. I guess occasionally we all think we know best – but this is not the site to practice your Macho Instinctive Navigation as, be assured, it will end in tears!!
Staying at the Caravan Club’s Centenary site at Bransgore in the New Forest. The site landscaping is maturing beautifully since my last visit and this really is a flagship Club site. And with the weather I am experiencing it is just an enormous pleasure to be here!