Stories of Salisbury women

THE winter exhibition at the Salisbury Museum in the Cathedral Close is Her Salisbury Story, running until 16th April 2023. It has been inspired by the Her Salisbury Story project and website, which aims to bring Salisbury’s heritage alive by exploring women’s stories, celebrating the lives of the city’s women past and present.

The aim is to ensure that the contribution of women is seen and valued as intrinsic to the city and its development. The project was started in 2020 by the Soroptimist International of Salisbury – an organisation that aims to transform the lives of women through education, empowerment and enabling opportunities.

The criteria for inclusion in the project is that each of the women was born or lived in Salisbury and its environs and/or made a significant contribution to the area – social, political, cultural or economic.

The exhibition explores a selection of the stories, including Anne Bodenham, who was tried and executed as a witch in 1653 and journalist Dorothy Lawrence, the only woman to go to the western front in the First World War. Hungry for a good story and determined to do her bit, Dorothy set out for the Western Front in 1915, with little more than a passport, a pencil and a bicycle. Disguised as a man, she managed to attach herself to the Royal Engineers 51st Division, 179th Tunnelling Co.

Others featured include Lady Jo Benson, voted in the Salisbury Journal as the woman who has contributed most to life in the city, the society hostess and Mayor of Wilton, Edith Olivier, fashion designer Georgina von Etzdorf, stonemason Robyn Golden-Hann and Tracy Daszkiewicz, whose courage and professionalism prevented the tragic Novichok incidents of 2018 from becoming a much greater disaster.

Pictured: Dorothy Lawrence in her military attire, from her autobiography Sapper Dorothy (1919); Edith Olivier, 1940, oil painting by Rex Whistler, courtesy of Wilton Town Council.