Perhaps the most desirable of all suffrage artifacts is the English “Medal for Valour,” more popularly known as the “Hunger Strike” medal. Given to all members of the Women’s Political and Social Union who had engaged in a hunger strike at Holloway Prison, it came in a silk lined box with the recipient’s name inscribed on both the lining and the medal itself. When hunger strikers were released from prison, they were requested to turn their medals in to the WSPU so that enamel bars could be added to the supporting ribbon when the suffragists were incarcerated again.
The WSPU also awarded a “Victoria Cross” of the station or Holloway Brooch to any member who had been imprisoned for the cause, whether she had engaged in a hunger strike or not. The brooch, designed by Sylvia Pankhurst, was modeled after the portcullis image of the House of Commons. The Women’s Freedom League, a breakaway organization from the WSPU, also issued its own prison badge, shown here, in July 1909.