English Heritage unveils blue plaque commemorating campaigner Caroline Norton

Tom Horton
·2-min read

A blue plaque commemorating women’s rights campaigner Caroline Norton has been unveiled by English Heritage.

The plaque has been placed on the outside of her former home in Mayfair, central London.

Ms Norton, who died in 1877, was a social reformer who successfully campaigned for legal rights for married women.

3 Chesterfield Street, Mayfair, London (English Heritage/PA)
3 Chesterfield Street, Mayfair, London (English Heritage/PA)

Her separation from husband George Chapple Norton was “one of the most highly publicised cases in 19th century Britain” which resulted in important changes in the legal status of women, a statement from English Heritage said.

The conservation organisation’s curatorial director Anna Eavis said: “Caroline Norton is an unsung hero in the fight for women’s rights and, in remembering her with an English Heritage London blue plaque, we hope to bring her story to the attention of many more people.

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“Through her battles with the legal system in the mid 19th-century, she was directly responsible for safeguarding women from an abuse of power by their husbands.

“She secured landmark victories for married women, changing the legal system by establishing their existence in the eyes of the law so as to protect their children, property, earnings and bequests.

“Women owe her a great deal.”

Lady Antonia Fraser (English Heritage/PA)
Lady Antonia Fraser (English Heritage/PA)

Lady Antonia Fraser, a biographer of Ms Norton, said: “I’m delighted that English Heritage is commemorating Caroline Norton.

“In 1836, her husband George Norton unsuccessfully sued the Prime Minister Lord Melbourne for adultery with his wife.

“Despite the court verdict of innocence, since a married woman had no legal rights, he was then able to exclude Caroline Norton from their home, prevent access to her three young children and benefit himself from her earnings as a writer.

“What I admire about Caroline Norton was that instead of suffering in silence, as was expected of a woman at that time, she proceeded to campaign bravely for a change in the law and played an important part in 19th century legislation to bring justice to all women.”

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