New exhibition celebrates Essex women

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A new exhibition, ‘Snapping the Stiletto’ opens at Epping Forest District Museum on Saturday 12 January, featuring a pair of heels owned by Essex actor Dame Helen Mirren.

It reveals the hidden stories of women who lived in the county and explores how women’s roles and opportunities have changed since gaining the right to vote in 1918. It also aims to dispel the negative stereotype of ‘Essex girls’ and their white stilettoes, by highlighting the lives and achievements of Essex women.

Where: Epping Forest District Museum, 39 – 41 Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1EL

When: Saturday 12 January – Saturday 16 March

Time: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10am – 4pm. Saturday 10am – 5pm

Free entry, donations are gratefully received

First of five museums

Epping Forest District Museum is the first of five museums to host this touring exhibition that features a signed letter from Gandhi to social reformer and twice Nobel Peace Prize Nominee from Loughton, Muriel Lester (on loan from the Bishopsgate Institute). Shoes on display – worn and owned by Essex women with fascinating stories – also include sportswomen Emma Hollis and Sally Gunnell.

Crucial roles for women

Volunteers worked with 11 museums and discovered stories of women campaigning for the vote, improved health and welfare services, and animal welfare. They learnt about the crucial roles women played in wartime, women who ran successful businesses and the many women working at engineering firms in the county.

Essex wide project

‘Snapping the Stiletto’ is a county-wide project, by Essex County Council. They received a grant from the Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund to deliver the project in partnership with museums across the county, Essex Record Office, and the University of Essex.

Further information

For more information about the project, please visit and follow @snapthestiletto on Twitter.