Master Rosalind Wright was Called to the Bar in 1964. Director of the Serious Fraud Office 1997-2003, and previously General Counsel and an Executive Director for ten years at the Securities and Futures Authority. Prior to taking up that appointment, she
was an Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, where she worked for 18 years, after five years in practice at the Bar. She was Lent Reader in 2010.
On a murky December lunchtime, the joint Masters of the Garden, Masters Carol Harlow and Judith Parker, together with our then Treasurer, Master David Bean, and our Head Gardener, Kate Jenrick, planted a new climbing rose against the west wall of Hall. The rose, a beautiful new variety, Crème de la Crème, was planted to mark the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, 1919, which ended the bar on women entering the profession.
The rose shares its bed with a new clematis in the colours (purple, white and greens) of the Women’s Social and Political Union, set up by Emmeline Pankhurst to campaign for women’s suffrage. Women had achieved the vote, at least in part, in 1918 and a year later Helena Normanton seized the opportunity offered by the 1919 Act to become, on Christmas Eve, the first woman member of Middle Temple – indeed of any Inn of Court.
Middle Temple has been in the forefront of celebrations of 100 years of women lawyers. The exhibition in Hall, Celebrating a Century of Women in Law, attracted a large number of visitors. It featured the portraits of 25 distinguished female Middle Templars, from Helena Normanton to the present day, with a further 50 or so portraits, including Elsie Bowerman (who survived the Titanic disaster) and current Middle students and scholars, on a digital display and on banners outside Hall.
The exhibition ended in January but the rose will, we hope, be a more permanent reminder of how far women have come in a short time at the Bar and will continue to flourish for many years to come.