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Two notable members of the suffragette movement: Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst.

Vida Goldstein. Australian politician and first woman in the British Empire to stand for election to a national parliament

The 20th century saw, from the start, innovations and changes, which had an incredible impact on society. Technology, science, and inventions succeeded one another at an accelerated rate, opening new possibilities to the ‘many’ who had previously been relegated to a lower and constricted way of life. Class boundaries were questioned and dreams of a better existence became more widely pursued and realized. No more so than for women. 

If the struggle had already started in the 18th century, supported by the ideas of equality and freedom inherent to the philosophy of the Enlightenment and continued in the 19th century with the spread of the socialist ideas, it was certainly in the 20th century that women’s battle for equal rights intensified and obtained the first substantial results.

As socialism had ‘created’ an international class of all workers, the beginning of the 20th century saw a new international community: women. Regardless  of national borders and social differences, the rights demanded by women were more and more the same: the right to vote, to dispose of their property and to choose their own careers.

 World War I, with its unprecedented horror and involvement of the civilian population, marked a turning point in the life of the women of the nations involved in the conflict. With more and more men being sent to the front, the necessity of  strong industrial production opened many job opportunities to women. Many of the positions that had until then been the exclusive prerogative of men, became available to women with minimal social opposition, being considered only a provisory situation. But once the barriers were overcome, there was no way back. The voice of women became increasingly stronger, their roles multiplied, and society had to take notice of them more and more.

The first leaflet issued by the Victorian Women's Suffrage Society.

This progress through the first decades of the 20th century is amply illustrated in the four seasons of the TV series Downton Abbey. The female characters, both upstairs and downstairs, dominate, from the beginning, the Crawleys’ estate, presenting a large and diversified spectrum of women’s attitudes, aspirations and development. 

From Lady Violet, the dowager countess, who starts as the representative of a rigid and seemingly unalterable social structure and progressively comes to understand – and even encourage – the new possibilities offered to her own grand-daughters, Mary, Sybil, and Edith, who each, in her own way and with different outcomes, chooses their future. 

1920s office worker 

Downstairs, it is no different. If, at the beginning of the series, Mr Carson is the undisputed ruler of the serving staff  - matching and even surpassing, in his own domain, the authority enjoyed upstairs by his corresponding character, the Earl of Grantham - little by little, his power and authoritarian stand are corroded by Mrs Hughes, whose compassionate understanding and well-balanced judgement take centre stage in season four. 

In a certain sense, the feminist ‘revolution’ starts downstairs, with the young servant Gwen, who dreams to leave service for a secretarial position and realizes her dream, encouraged and helped by Lady Sybil, who herself will brake social prejudices, marrying the Irish chauffeur – then politician – Branson, and participate in political debates and rallies. 

Many themes of female emancipation are addressed in Downton Abbey, and, though accurately representing the period in which they are set, they also echo present concerns and debates – violence against women, jobs with equal pay etc. – making the audience aware that the emancipation of women and their fight for equality is not yet complete.

Find out about our 19 day tour of Britain's Downton Era departing August 2015. One highlight of the program is a guided tour of Highclere, which is already fully booked for group visits in both 2014 and 2015. In addition we will explore many of the other stately homes featured in the series and learn about life upstairs and downstairs in the Edwardian Era.

Visit Get Up & Go magazine for your chance to win two places on this unique tour !

 

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2017 Guaranteed Departures

2017 Guaranteed Departures

We are very pleased to be able to guarantee the following tours for 2017.

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Meet Our Program Leaders

Meet Our Program Leaders

Our Program Leaders are based in New Zealand and Australia, so have an understanding of the needs of our New Zealand and Australian participants. They are all well-travelled with a…

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Gold Rewards Program

Gold Rewards Program

Our Gold Rewards Membership Program allows you to experience the Uk, Europe, Asia and beyond as a local with "Live Like a Local" experiences in addition to many more benefits.

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Refer a Friend Rewards

Refer a Friend Rewards

Receive a $200 discount off any Golden Compass tour when your friends or family book with us! Your friends will also save $100 off their own booking and there is…

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Discover Spain with Jone Gaillard - 14 September - 02 October 2017

Our Discover Spain program explores the historic links, cultures and religions of these two civilisations, as well as the great geographical and cultural diversity of Spain with its ancient and fascinating cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Granada and Seville, as well as its regions away from the traditional tourist beaches. 

 



 

Inclusive of field trips, local guides, gratuities and all meals.