Barrister and advocate for women’s rights Helena Normanton receives English Heritage London blue plaque


The trailblazing female barrister and champion of women’s rights, Helena Normanton, has been commemorated with an English Heritage London blue plaque. Erected almost 100 years after she passed her Bar finals (on 26 October 1921), the plaque marks 22 Mecklenburgh Square, Normanton’s home from 1919 to 1931, the period when she was forging her legal career. Whilst living there, she funded her training and supplemented her income by letting rooms in the large property.

A century later, Helena Normanton is seen as instrumental in paving the way for women in law. She was the first female law student at one of the London Inns of Court and one of the first to be called to the Bar. As a practising barrister, she was the first female counsel to lead in a case at the High Court, the first woman to accept a dock brief and run a trial at the Old Bailey, the first woman in the English courts to lead murder trials, and one of the first two women to take silk as a King’s Counsel (the recognition given to the most senior barristers).

Anna Eavis, Curatorial Director at English Heritage, commented: “Widely acknowledged as a trailblazer, Helena Normanton scored a remarkable number of firsts in her legal career and paved the way for other women to advance in the profession. We are delighted to commemorate her with a blue plaque on the building in which she lived when she first started out as a lawyer.”

Lady Hale, the first woman to serve as President of the UK’s Supreme Court, unveiled the plaque, saying: “Helena Normanton was the pioneer of women barristers. She had to overcome a great deal of prejudice and discrimination. A blue plaque is a fitting tribute to her courage and her example to women barristers everywhere.”