Suffragette: The Movie!

A new period film, Suffragette, which charts the campaign for women’s votes in Britain, is to hit our our screens in January 2015.

Suffragette Movie

As well as dramatising history, the film is making it, as it is the first to use the Houses of Parliament as a set for a commercial film, 25 years after TV cameras were allowed in for the first time. Suffragette stars Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Romola Garai and multi-Oscar-winner Meryl Streep as one of the movement’s leaders, Emmeline Pankhurst. Scenes were shot both outside and inside the building, including the central lobby and one of the committee rooms. You can see some of the filming under way in Parliament in this BBC report. Continue reading “Suffragette: The Movie!”

Feminist kitchen accessories – an oxymoron?

With Father’s Day approaching this Sunday 15th, it seems the perfect time to have a discussion about the ‘feminist’ nature (or not) of what the Radical Tea Towel Company does. Occasionally, we receive comments on our facebook page about whether the kitchen accessories on our website simply encourage stereotypes of women working in the kitchen. Here are a couple of examples:

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We don’t actually believe our stuff has to be seen in an ironic light at all: we have a range of figures and concepts on the tea towels, and the suffragette movement just happens to be one of these.

There’s nothing about a suffragette tea towel that says it’s only for use by women, or that a man can’t appreciate the finer stylistic points of a Keep Left apron. Which is why we offer you feminist gift ideas for Father’s Day as well as Mother’s Day 😉 Continue reading “Feminist kitchen accessories – an oxymoron?”

History of the Tea Cosy – From Duchesses to WW2 Soldiers

Feminist tea cosy
Commemorating the suffragettes – but the tea cosy also has a story of its own to tell

The tea cosy (tea cozy in the US), like the tea towel, apparently traces its origins back to 19th century Britain. It is thought likely that the Duchess of Bedford, who established a tradition of ‘afternoon tea’ in 1840 to occupy affluent women, first popularised the tea cosy among the upper classes.

Its primary function was to keep the tea pot warm so that the tea wouldn’t go cold quickly during all the chatter and gossip of an afternoon tea gathering. These were of course the days well before electric kettles and microwaves which can quickly reheat cold water.

The late Victorian era saw tea cosies become popular in the houses of the middle class. They were often embroidered and their function expanded to a decorative piece. This period also saw tea cosies become popular in North America.

British Second World War soldiers spending time in a military hospital in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) were told to knit tea cosies to avoid boredom. Their patterned designs were in stark contrast to the experience of death and destruction around them, and a gentle reminder of life at home. This tea cosy, telling the story of one such soldier, was featured in the BBC’s series ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’. Continue reading “History of the Tea Cosy – From Duchesses to WW2 Soldiers”