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. Here are nine destinations showcasing the highlights and heritage of influential British women.

1. J.K. Rowling

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 and where fans 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.

2. Emmeline Pankhurst

In her hometown of Manchester, visitors 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 Centreat 62 Nelson Street, the family home of Emmeline Pankhurst. Currently, Manchester Art Gallery is taking votes on the design of a memorial statue to be unveiled on International Women’s Day 2019.

3. Kelly Holmes

Athlete Dame Kelly Holmes was on the move long before she was crowned double Olympic champion or founded the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust. In her early years, she did paper rounds for a sweetshop in Hildenborough near Tonbridge, Kent – she has since turned the shop into Café 1809 where visitors earn loyalty points for healthy food choices and can chat about sporting endeavours.

4. Mary Quant

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.

5. Diana, Princess of Wales

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: Her Fashion Story. 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. Visitors can also dip their toes in Hyde Park’s Diana Memorial Fountain or stretch their legs on a seven-mile Memorial Walk through four London parks.

6. Beatrix Potter

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 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.