On the trail of British women who changed the world

In March, London’s Southbank Centre hosts its annual Women of the World festival, celebrating the achievements of women around the world. But it’s not the only place with the WOW factor to mark International Women’s Day. Here are 6 destinations showcasing the highlights and heritage of influential British women.

1. J.K. Rowling


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Visitors to Edinburgh can experience Potter magic through some of J.K. Rowling’s favourite haunts. Take a trip to the Elephant House, once a writing refuge for the author. You can sit in the seat she vacated, or book the suite at The Balmoral where she wrote the final chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Don’t miss the Potter Trail, a free walking tour around Edinburgh’s old town, which spills the beans on how He Who Must Not Be Named got his name.

Elephant House

2. Emmeline Pankhurst


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In her hometown of Manchester, you can explore the legacy of Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the Suffragette movement that helped women secure the vote. Stay in the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel, once Manchester’s Free Trade Hall which hosted the first public meeting on women’s suffrage, and visit The Pankhurst Centre at 62 Nelson Street, the family home of Emmeline Pankhurst. A statue of Pankhurst was unveiled in Manchester’s St Peter’s Square in mid-December 2018 to mark exactly 100 years from when British women first voted in a General Election.

The Pankhurst Centre

3. Jane Austen


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Renowned for her incredible literary works, Jane Austen explored a woman’s social standing, marriage and economic security through the power of words. Visit the country cottage where she penned her works, including the timeless classic Pride and Prejudice, at Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, or discover the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, a permanent exhibition that explores her time in the city and the influence that it had on her writing.

Jane Austen's House Museum

4. Mary Quant


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Designer Dame Mary Quant made London’s King’s Road world-famous with her Bazaar boutique in the 1950s and is credited with placing the mini skirt on the fashion map; nowadays, the area is packed with high-end stores and restaurants. After a long day’s shopping, get your culture fix at the nearby Saatchi Gallery or take a tour of the Royal Hospital Chelsea with one of the Chelsea Pensioners, the retired soldiers who live here.

Saatchi Gallery

5. Diana, Princess of Wales


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London’s Kensington Palace and Gardens are a good starting point for exploring the life of Princess Diana and the venue is currently hosting the exhibition; Diana: Designing for a Princess, an exploration of the joy she found in fashion. As well as being a member of the royal family, she was known for raising awareness of causes such as HIV/AIDS and anti-landmine campaigns. Younger visitors can explore the Diana Memorial Playground complete with sensory trail, beach, and pirate ship. You can also dip your toes in Hyde Park’s Diana Memorial Fountain or stretch your legs on a 7-mile Memorial Walk through 4 London parks.

Kensington Palace

6. Beatrix Potter


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Beatrix Potter left 14 farms and 4,000 acres of land to the National Trust so people could enjoy her beloved Lake District. You can follow the Beatrix Potter trail which includes her former home, the National Trust property of Hill Top, and the Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead, set in a 17th-century building that was once the office of her solicitor husband. Separate to the Trust, the exhibition and character-inspired gardens at the World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness-on-Windemere offer an engaging insight into this much-loved author’s life and books. 

Beatrix Potter Gallery

7. Also, you may want to consider these influential women:

Amy Winehouse – view street art dedicated to the late singer in Camden, north west London.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson – discover the inspirational story of Britain’s first female doctor at The Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Gallery, London, and The Long Shop Museum near Aldeburgh, Suffolk.

Kate Moss – the international supermodel is a big fan of the London Eye – she’s taken it 25 times.

27 Mar 2020(last updated)