East Preston’s first Blue Plaque pays tribute to Edith Ayrton and Israel Zangwill for centenary of women’s suffrage

East Preston has its first Blue Plaque, recognising the efforts of a married couple who were lifelong campaigners for women’s suffrage and world peace.

Edith Ayrton and Israel Zangwill were both successful, published authors and some of their works may well have been written in the village.

Shirley Zangwill, left, with East Preston parish councillor Elizabeth Linton at Far End. Picture: Kate Shemilt ks180574-3

Shirley Zangwill, left, with East Preston parish councillor Elizabeth Linton at Far End. Picture: Kate Shemilt ks180574-3

The plaque has been installed by East Preston Parish Council at Far End, in Sea Lane, where the Zangwills lived for many years.

Daughter-in-law Shirley Zangwill unveiled the Blue Plaque on Saturday and Irene Cockroft, a leading expert on British women’s suffrage, was present at the ceremony.

Shirley, who was married to the younger son, Oliver, said: “I thank East Preston Parish Council so much for asking me to unveil the Blue Plaque to honour Edith and Israel Zangwill.

“It was a fantastic occasion for me and I enjoyed every minute of it, meeting so many lovely and interesting people. Such a wonderful day, thank you once again.”

Messages of goodwill were received from the Zangwills’ granddaughters, Caroline Zangwill and Patty Holland-Branch, who live in America.

They wrote: “Ayrton Israel, their oldest son, was our father. All of our families are appreciative of this significant honor and recognition of our grandparents’ contribution to world peace. They continue to be role models to my sisters and my children and grandchildren.”

Israel was born in London to a family of Jewish immigrants from the Russian Empire. The play of his novel The Melting Pot, depicting the life of a Russian Jewish immigrant family, was produced on Broadway, popularising a now familiar phrase.

The couple were ardent suffragists and the parish council said the unveiling of the Blue Plaque this year was especially apt, as 2018 marks 100 years since the Representation of the People Act gave some women the right to vote for the first time.

Councillor Elizabeth Linton said: “The council is very pleased to be able to commemorate this wonderful couple on its first blue plaque. This brilliant couple were well known for their literary works and their active idealism for a better world.

“We were especially pleased to welcome their daughter-in-law Shirley to carry out the unveiling for us.”

Guests included Roddie MacLeod, a lifelong East Preston resident who remembers having tea with Edith Ayrton at Far End at the start of the Second World War, members of East Preston and Kingston Preservation Society, and members of the local Jewish community.

Amy and Simon Comins, the current owners of Far End, said: “We were absolutely delighted to have been approached by EP Council about the possibility of receiving the first Blue Plaque in the village.

“We are very proud of the history associated with our house and the historical significance of the early suffragette movement in our local area.”

Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the British suffragette movement, is believed to have stayed in the house at the height of the campaign.

The Blue Plaque reads: “Edith Ayrton 1879-1945 and her husband Israel Zangwill 1864-1926 lived here from 1906 Writers and campaigners for women’s suffrage, a Jewish homeland and world peace”

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