First practising female barrister commemorated with London blue plaque

Girl Hale unveiled the historic marker

The primary girl to practise on the bar of England and Wales has been commemorated with an English Heritage London blue plaque.

Helena Normanton’s plaque marks the deal with she lived for the early a part of her authorized profession at 22 Mecklenburgh Sq. in London’s Bloomsbury.

Yesterday’s unveiling comes nearly 100 years after Normanton handed her last bar exams on 26 October 1921, and was attended by senior female figures from throughout the authorized occupation.

Girl Hale, the primary girl to function president of the UK’s Supreme Courtroom, unveiled the plaque, saying: “Helena Normanton was the pioneer of women barristers. She had to overcome a great deal of prejudice and discrimination. A blue plaque is a fitting tribute to her courage and her example to women barristers everywhere.”

It follows a prolonged marketing campaign by a bunch of ladies barristers at Doughty Avenue Chambers and the First 100 Years undertaking to have Normanton’s profile recognised by the historic marker.

Normanton scored lots of ‘firsts’ throughout her time in authorized apply. She was the primary girl to practise on the bar and the second to be referred to as after Ivy Williams (who was final 12 months commemorated with an Oxford blue plaque) in 1922. She was additionally the primary girl to be admitted to an Inn of Courtroom, Center Temple, in 1919, and maintain briefs within the Excessive Courtroom and Previous Bailey. In 1949, she turned considered one of two girls to be made King’s Counsel.

Anna Eavis, curatorial director at English Heritage, commented: “Widely acknowledged as a trailblazer, Helena Normanton scored a remarkable number of firsts in her legal career and paved the way for other women to advance in the profession. We are delighted to commemorate her with a blue plaque on the building in which she lived when she first started out as a lawyer.”

Her significance continues to the current day and in 2019, a London chambers renamed itself ‘Normanton Chambers’, a century after its namesake turned the primary girl to hitch an Inn of Courtroom. Normanton Chambers was additionally the primary set to be named after a girl. The next 12 months, the primary authorized outfitters for girls launched as ‘Ivy & Normanton’.

It could seem that Normanton can also be the primary female lawyer to be commemorated with a London blue plaque. A fast search on English Heritage’s web site reveals solely a handful of former legal professionals have been honoured on this means, and so they’re all males. The previous Lord Chief Justice Rufus Isaacs is commemorated with a ceramic plaque on his previous Mayfair dwelling, while former Lord Chancellor Richard Haldane has one in Westminster.

The plaques mark websites of historic or cultural significance and honour Londoners who’ve made a big contribution of their area. There are over 950 blue plaques honouring women and men, affixed to the partitions of buildings previous and new throughout the capital.

But, the scheme has been urged to redress the gender imbalance as it’s estimated solely 14% of the 950 or so plaques have fun girls.

English Heritage, which based the scheme in 1866, launched its ‘plaques for women’ marketing campaign 5 years in the past and mentioned it has since acquired various nominations for female figures. In 2021, half of its new plaques will probably be devoted to girls, and ladies make up effectively over half of the instances at the moment within the pipeline.

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