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Memorial plaque unveiled for pioneering deaf teacher and suffragette Mary Hare

A commemorative plaque has been unveiled for a pioneering deaf teacher and a key figure in the women’s suffrage movement.

An unveiling ceremony for the plaque was held on Saturday, March 23, in St Michael’s Place in Brighton, where Mary Hare lived and taught from 1895 to 1901.

Campaigners say Miss Hare’s most notable achievement was her pioneering work as a teacher for deaf young people, which included founding Mary Hare School, now based in Snelsmore Common near Newbury.

Mary Hare, 1865-1945
Mary Hare, 1865-1945

But her legacy also includes her work as an active suffragette, establishing a Brighton-based women’s police force.

The unveiling ceremony was arranged by Mary Hare School alumna, Margaret Stewart, who petitioned for the blue plaque.

Explaining her passion behind the campaign, she said: “When I was at Mary Hare Grammar School, we had no idea what Mary Hare had done in her life.

“It was quite a surprise when in 2018, I came across an exhibition of the 100th anniversary of the Suffragettes and I noticed how Mary Hare was involved and made such a huge impact on women's equality and her work with deaf children.

“This led me to campaign for a blue plaque.”

Principal Robin Askew added: “It was a joy to be able to attend the ceremony event and for the opportunity to celebrate the life and work of Mary Hare.

“Between the hail and the sunshine, there was a great atmosphere, and it was fantastic to see so many people come out to join this commemorative occasion.

“My sincere thanks go out to Margaret for her work in campaigning for this plaque in honour of Mary Hare.”

Plaque dedicated to Mary Hare unveiled in Brighton
Plaque dedicated to Mary Hare unveiled in Brighton

The plaque reads: ‘Mary Hare, 1865-1945, Suffragette and pioneer teacher of the deaf, lived and taught here 1895-1901.’

Miss Hare first opened a school for deaf children at her mother’s house in London in 1883.

Her vision was that deafness simply brought an additional barrier to learning and that, with the right approach to learning, deaf children were as apt as any other to learning and accessing the curriculum – a unique perspective for her time.

She taught deaf young people through an oral approach – where students learn in a language-enriched environment – a practice still taught at the school.

Following her death in 1945, the school was renamed Mary Hare Grammar School in her honour and was later officially opened by Princess Margaret.

It is now known as Mary Hare School and is the largest residential school for deaf young people from ages four to 19.

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