Agnes Maude Royden

(1876 - 1956)

A Blue Plaque recognizing the life and work of Agnes Maude Royden was unveiled by the Mayor of Wirral, Councillor Tony Smith, at Frankby Hall on 28th June 2019

Funded by Wirral Council with the support from Conservation Areas Wirral

Elliott & Fry Ltd

© 2010

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Bromide Print, circa 1928

St George in the East Church. Maude Royden leaving Waterloo station of the USA in 1937

From the exhibition “Drawn From Life: Original Portraits by S.J. Woolf. First published in Newsweek January 23rd 1937

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Bromide Print 1947

Lady Margaret Hall University Of Oxford

by de Laszlo 1932

© Getty Images

On the S.S. Cedric

17th April 1922

© Lena Connell, 12 Baker Street , London

This is the image of Maude Royden found on the statue of Millicent Fawcett unveiled on 24th April 2018

Woodblock of Maude Royden by Emile Verpilleux (1888 - 1964)

At the pulpit in the Gulidhouse

Harris & Ewing 1955 Lunch in Washington DC in honour of Dr Royden

From Australian Federation of University Women Photographs (Taken in 1912)

© 1997-2016 Spartacus Educational Publishers Ltd.

Maude Royden at the Guildhouse in 1922

Agnes Maude Royden, known throughout her life and career as Maude Royden, was born in Mossley Hill, Liverpool on 23rd November 1876. The youngest of eight children to Sir Thomas Bland Royden and his wife Alice Elizabeth. Maude lived at the family's country home, Frankby Hall, before she became a famous public speaker and author. She was described by Good Housekeeping in 1928 as ‘the best-known woman preacher in the world’ and in the same year the Sydney Daily Guardian wrote: "You could talk to her for some time without realizing that she was the really famous Maude Royden, England's first woman preacher and described by one considerable person as England's greatest woman".

In his Painted Windows; Studies in Religious Personality (published in 1922) Harold Begbie writes: "One may affirm of Miss Royden that she is at once a true woman and a great man". One reference to Frankby Hall recalls an incident that may well have been very influential on Maude:

One day, a day of torrential rain, when she was a girl living in her father's house in Cheshire, she and her sister saw a carriage and pair coming through the park towards the house. The coachman and footman on the box were soaking wet, and kept their heads down to avoid the sting of the rain in their eyes. The horses were streaming with rain and the carriage might have been a watercart. When the caller, a rich lady, arrived in the drawing-room, polite wonder was expressed at her boldness in coming out on such a dreadful day. She seemed surprised. "Oh, but I came in a closed carriage," she explained.

Educated at Cheltenham Ladies College and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford she obtained a second-class degree in history, Maude worked at the Victoria Women's Settlement in LIverpool for eighteen months but her health suffered and, combined with the lameness she still experienced, she suffered from periods of depression. (Maude had been born with dislocated hips and wasn't treated for the condition for several years). After a period of recovery at Frankby Hall Maude went to assist the Reverend Hudson Shaw in his South Luffenham parish. It was here that Maude fell in love with Hudson Shaw and a relationship that included his wife and recounted in The Threefold Cord (1947), in which Maude details her passionate but celibate love for Shaw. Shaw's wife, who suffered with mental ill health, recognised and encouraged her husband’s relationship with Maude and it was soon after Shaw's wife's death in 1944, over forty years after they had first met, that Maude Royden (who was 68) and Hudson Shaw (who was 85 years old) married. He died just eight weeks later.

With Shaw's support Maude began to lecture at Oxford University and she became a regular speaker for the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, appointed to it's executive committee in 1911 and was editor of it's newspaper 'The Common Cause'. Maude Royden was the first Chair of the Church League for Women's Suffrage. From 1911 she was a member of the executive committee of the London Society for Women's Suffrage. In 1913 she was also appointed President of the Chester Women's Suffrage Society and Vice-President of the Oxford Women Students' Suffrage Society.

During her life Maude Royden was famous internationally for her lectures on women's rights and, during the First World War, her belief in pacifism. In 1915 she was elected vice-president of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, later resigning over its support for the war effort However she later renounced at the outbreak of the Second World War - "I believe now that Nazism is worse than war. It is more hideously cruel, more blind, more evil and more important".

In 1929, Maude Royden founded the Society for the Ministry of Women and in 1930 was made a Companion of Honour. In 1931 Glasgow University conferred a Doctorate of Divinity upon her, making her Britain's first woman Doctor of Divinity, and in 1935 the University of Liverpool awarded her with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Agnes Maude Royden died at her London home on 30th July 1956.

Maude Royden Quotes:

  • "When you have nothing left but God, you become aware that God is enough"
  • "I was born a woman and I can't get over it"
  • "Learn to hold loosely all that is not eternal"
  • "If you want to be a dear old lady at seventy you have to begin early, say about seventeen"
  • "We cannot break God's laws - but we can break ourselves against them"
  • "The corruption of the best is the worst..."
  • "Without friends thou canst not live well"

Books by Maude Royden:

  • Downward paths (1916)
  • Women and the sovereign state (1917)
  • Blessed Joan of Arc (1918)
  • The Hour and the Church (1918)
  • Sex and common-sense (1922)
  • Political Christianity (1922)
  • Women at the World's Crossroads (1928)
  • Prayer as a force (1923)
  • Beauty in Religion (1923)
  • Christ triumphant (1924)
  • Church and woman (1924)
  • Life's little pitfalls (1925)
  • Here--and hereafter (1933)
  • Problem of Palestine (1939)
  • I Believe in God (1927)
  • Women's Partnership in the New World (1941)
  • The Threefold Cord (1947)

Millicent Fawcett Statue

On 24th April 2018, a statue to Millicent Fawcett, suffragist leader and social campaigner was unveiled in Parliament Square, London. It is the first monument to a woman and also the first sculpture by a woman in Parliament Square and was funded through the government's Centenary Fund, which marks 100 years since some women won the right to vote. In the statue Fawcett holds a banner which reads 'Courage calls to courage everywhere', an extract from a speech she made after the death of the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison who died after being hit by King George V's horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby when she walked onto the track during the race. The names and images of 55 women and four men who supported women's suffrage appear on the statue's plinth. Agnes Maude Royden is one of those.