Nellie Godfrey’s WSPU medal – £10,000 at Dix Noonan Webb.

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Nellie Godfrey’s medal was expected to fetch £6000-8000 at London auction house Dix Noonan Webb (24% buyer’s premium) on January 13. It sold to a buyer from north-west England.

Godfrey joined the WSPU in 1909, and was first arrested that summer, appearing before Bow Street Magistrates on July 9.

She was arrested for a second time on December 7, charged with throwing a missile at the motor car as the then MP for Dundee and President of the Board of Trade travelled to an election rally in Bolton in the run-up to the January 1910 General Election. It was wrapped in paper bearing the message Thrown by a woman of England as a protest against the Government’s treatment of political prisoners.

Appearing at Bolton Magistrates Court the following day, Godfrey pleaded guilty and was fined 40 shillings. Refusing to pay, she was sentenced to seven days’ imprisonment.

Left to a neighbour

The medal had been left by Godfrey to north London neighbour Sandra Lamberti, a political refugee from Franco’s Spain. Godfrey befriended the family and helped teach Lamberti English – and became her adoptive grandmother.

Lamberti died a few years ago and her family consigned the medal with proceeds to be donated to the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for equality and women’s rights.