Ladies Allowed! How women were banned from Central Lobby, and re-admitted 100 years ago

Guest post by Robin Fell In February 1918, The Pall Mall Gazette prominently displayed an item under the headline, LADIES AND THE LOBBY – OLD CONDITIONS TO BE RESTORED. This tells us that, ‘The Speaker announced that he had given instruction that in future ladies, accompanied by members, would be admitted to the Central Lobby, from which they were excluded owing to exceptional circumstances.’  Central Lobby is at the heart of Parliament, midway between the House of Commons and House of Lords: a meeting place for Parliamentarians, and a place for MPs to meet their constituents. So, when and how were … Continue reading Ladies Allowed! How women were banned from Central Lobby, and re-admitted 100 years ago

GONE GRILLE: The removal of the Ladies’ Gallery Grilles

‘The heavy brass trellis which then screened off these galleries, and their bad ventilation, made them quite unnecessarily tiring and even exhausting,’ Millicent Fawcett, writing in 1924.[1] On 23 August 1917, to the joy of many women, the grilles were removed from the windows of the Ladies’ Gallery in the House of Commons. Women had to watch debates separately from men in those days. In the early 19th century they had done so peering down from a ventilator in the attic above the Commons chamber; after the 1834 fire destroyed the old Palace of Westminster, a Ladies’ Gallery was created … Continue reading GONE GRILLE: The removal of the Ladies’ Gallery Grilles

Rebels and Friends, Constance Markievicz and Eva Gore-Booth

Guest post by Jacqueline Mulhallen  Rebels and Friends – a play about Constance Markievicz and Eva Gore-Booth, written by Jacqueline Mulhallen, directed by William Alderson, and produced by Lynx Theatre and Poetry In 1918 Constance Markievicz was the first woman elected to the British Parliament.  Because she was a a member of Sinn Fein, she did not take her seat, and there is some doubt whether she would have been eligible, though that question was not raised at the time! Instead, she became Ireland’s first minister of Labour under the illegal Sinn Fein Parliament in Ireland and the only female Cabinet Minister at … Continue reading Rebels and Friends, Constance Markievicz and Eva Gore-Booth

‘The Burning Question’

One hundred years ago, votes for women gained support in Parliament thanks to Speaker James Lowther.  ‘I endeavoured to push off the burning question of women’s suffrage as long as I could.’ (Speaker Lowther, ‘A Speaker’s Commentaries’) Speaker James W Lowther was remembering a Conference on electoral reform which discussed and then recommended votes for women on 10-11 January 1917. January 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of this important but little-remembered Parliamentary body, which was crucial in the history of votes for women. Speaker Lowther had been contending with suffragette agitation in the Palace of Westminster over a number of … Continue reading ‘The Burning Question’

Exclusive: ‘Suffragette’ film review

Mari Takayanagi, joint project manager and co-curator for Vote 100, saw an advance screening of ‘Suffragette’ and reviews it exclusively for UK Vote 100. ‘Suffragette’ is the story of Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan), a laundry worker in London’s East End, who gets sucked into the suffrage movement almost by accident and becomes one of its most militant campaigners. I found the story gripping, moving, sad and inspiring in turn. Maud’s work in the laundry is endless, grinding, exhausting and dangerous. Yet somehow none of this is as bad as the realisation, which gradually dawns on her and us throughout the … Continue reading Exclusive: ‘Suffragette’ film review