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Hemyock Castle


People Power – The March to Democracy

These webpages are about Britain's long, slow, continuing progress towards democracy; particularly the contribution of people associated with Hemyock Castle.

Other webpages in this series:


Mrs Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe (1762 to 1850)

"Station in Life" & Women's Right to Vote

In 1918, many women in Britain aged over 30 gained (or regained) the right to vote in elections. Ten years later in 1928, this was extended to all women (and men) aged over 21. In fact until the 1832 "Great Reform Act" abolished it, some wealthier women such as Mrs. Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe could previously have had the right to vote: As well as banning many unsatisfactory electoral practices, this 1832 reform act had also restricted voting in future to men only.

For many hundreds of years, and until quite recently, people were considered to have an allotted or even "god-given" station in life. People were deterred from rising above their station or from usurping the rights and privileges of their "betters." So until quite recently, it was though normal for certain people "to rule" and for the vast majority of people "to be ruled."

During that time, people's station – and their right to a say in government ‐ were determined largely by heredity, but also by how much property they owned or controlled. At times, that "property" even included other humans. People's individual influence over their own lives and their rulers, was determined largely by their personal station in life.

These days, most people in Western societies support and believe in democratic forms of government, with universal suffrage which does not exclude any significant groups of adult residents from being entitled to vote.

Education for All

Mrs Simcoe was interested in education for all. She supported Hemyock's Dame School which provided education to children of poor families.

Inclosure of Hemyock

Hemyock was inclosed in 1814. Mrs. Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe (née Gwillim), General Simcoe's widow was recorded as the owner of the manor of Hemyock. She vigorously defended and successfully retained rights over much of the former common land around Hemyock and Madford.

In 1822 and again in 1850 Mrs. Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe was recorded still to be in possession of the Hemyock manor and castle. She died in 1850.

Accomplished Artist

Mrs. Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe was an accomplished artist. She kept an illustrated diary. Parts of her Canadian diary and illustrations are now available online. Most of the Simcoes' archives are now held in Canada.


Other webpages in this series:


These webpages were created as part of a special exhibition at Hemyock Castle's 2019 Heritage Open Day.

Heritage Open Days are part of European Heritage Days, a Council of Europe initiative. They are co-ordinated by The National Trust with funding by players of People's Postcode Lottery.

Hemyock Castle receives no funding, and makes no charge for entry on Heritage Open Days. We welcome donations to The Blackdown Support Group & Musgrove Leukaemic Group Somerset.



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Hemyock Castle, Hemyock, CULLOMPTON, Devon, EX15 3RJ, UK.
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