See caption
Holloway brooch, from the UK Parliamentary Collections
Wikimedia Commons

The Holloway brooch, also known as the Holloway Prison brooch and the Victoria Cross of the Union, was presented by the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) to women who had been imprisoned in Holloway for militant suffragette activity.[1]

Holloway prison was originally built as a mixed-sex prison in 1852, but in 1902 it became the first female-only prison in England,[2] and the largest in Europe.[3] Initially, suffragettes convicted of minor acts of public protest were bound over to keep the peace and a promise not to re-offend, but as their activism escalated to criminal damage the punishments became more severe, resulting in the first suffragette being sent to Holloway in 1906.[3]

The brooches were given to suffragettes upon their release from Holloway,[3] the first of them presented at a mass demonstration organised by the WSPU in the Albert Hall on 29 April 1909.[4]


The Holloway brooch was designed by Sylvia Pankhurst, daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, and depicts the portcullis symbol of the House of Commons, with a superimposed broad arrow, a symbol of conflict. Made of silver, it is decorated with purple, white, and green enamel, the colours of the WSPU.[1]

See also

  • Hunger strike medalAwarded by the Women's Social and Political Union to those suffragettes who had gone on hunger strike during their imprisonment.