Plaque unveiled in honour of Katherine Mina Courtauld

March 2022

Image for press release
(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

On Friday 11th March, Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst, Lord-Lieutenant of Essex, unveiled a Commemorative Blue Plaque honouring Katherine Mina Courtauld (1856-1935).

The ceremony took place at Courtauld Memorial Hall (Colne Engaine Village Hall) and was attended by representatives from Writtle University College.

'Mina', as she was known to her family, was a renowned British farmer and influential suffragist, a non-militant supporter of women's suffrage.

At a time when women were discouraged from pursuing 'masculine' careers and unable to access educational institutes such as Agricultural Colleges, Mina was a persuasive advocate of agricultural training for women.

She co-founded the Women's Farm & Garden Organisation which led to the creation of the Women's Land Army of WW1.

At the unveiling, Mina's descendant George Courtauld spoke with affection about his great, great, great aunt's approach to life, wearing more practical men's clothes and demanding to be allowed to farm.

When she was 21, Mina's father bought her 243 acre Knights Farm in Colne Engaine where she lived with her long-term companion Mary Gladstone, daughter of Prime Minister William Gladstone. She was so successful at farming that she later managed a further 2000 acres of family land. 

Mina was secretary for the northwest Essex branch of The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies. She used her 1911 census to complain, in red ink, about women not yet having the vote with the words: 'As a householder and ratepayer I deeply resent being denied the privilege of a citizen in the exercise of the parliamentary franchise'.

Her public activity was extensive - sitting on her local parish council, serving as president of Essex Agricultural show, becoming Master of the Essex Hunt and sitting as a member of Essex County Council for 20 years - eight of those before she could legally vote as an individual! 

She was a without doubt a fantastic role model, fighting women's causes and standing up for herself and those around her with the grit and sassiness that defines the people of Essex, and is rightly recognised as part of the Essex Women's Commemoration Project.