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SYLVIA PANKHURST IN WOODFORD

Red Cottage
Red Cottage, 126 High Road, Woodford Wells.
Image courtesy of the Redbridge Museum
West Dene, 3 Charteris Road, Woodford
'West Dene', 3 Charteris Road, Woodford:
Sylvia's home from 1933 until 1956. Image reproduced by permission of Dr Richard Pankhurst and the LSE Library

Woodford is a suburb next to Epping Forest, on the border of north-east London and Essex. It was Sylvia's friend, the social campaigner, journalist and politician George Lansbury who had introduced Sylvia to Epping Forest, where they would go for long walks to talk about life and politics. He and his family lived in Bow, where Sylvia also lived before she moved to Woodford.

In 1924, with her partner Silvio Corio, Sylvia went to live in an old four-roomed cottage at 126 High Road, Woodford Wells, opposite the Horse and Well pub. It was called Vine Cottage, but Sylvia renamed it Red Cottage. A son was born to them in Red Cottage in 1927. Although the couple lived together for 30 years (until Silvio's death), they never married, much to local disapproval.

While Sylvia wrote and travelled, Silvio served teas and refreshments in the café. He had trained in Italy as a printer and typographer but was also a journalist with an interest in politics. Together at Red Cottage the couple started the New Times and Ethiopia News, which was printed in Walthamstow on the same presses used to produce the local Guardian newspaper. In 1933, they moved again to a much larger property near Woodford station called 'West Dene', 3 Charteris Road.

During her time in Woodford, Sylvia was at her most active as a champion of human rights: writing and publishing, and defending Ethiopia from Italian fascist invasion. Silvio died in 1954, and Sylvia remained at West Dene until 1956. She then emigrated to Ethiopia at the invitation of Emperor Haile Selassie, and stayed there for the remaining years of her life.

Red Cottage was pulled down in 1939 to make way for new houses. All that remains to mark where the cottage stood is a small Grade II-listed stone sculpture erected by Sylvia Pankhurst in 1935.

A stone sculpture dedicated to opposing air-warfare was erected by Sylvia Pankhurst in 1935 on the site of Red Cottage where she had lived for a time, opposite the Horse & Well pub. The sculpture was commissioned in reaction to Mussolini’s air attack on Ethiopia in 1932, after aerial bombing had been defended at the League of Nations as an acceptable form of warfare. Read more about the anti-airwarfare monument in 'The Stone Bomb' section

Also in the 'About Sylvia Pankhurst' section:
About Sylvia Pankhurst: Introduction, Background, The Pankhurst Family, Politics & World Affairs, and Sylvia in Woodford.