The Ladies Gallery


“Situated in the House of Commons, the ladies gallery was a discreet and elite place for ladies–-the wives, mothers, sisters and any other privileged female relation or acquaintance–-to sit and watch the proceedings in Parliament. A highly coveted spot, it was nonetheless raided by Suffragettes in the late Edwardian era.


“Whilst the WSPU had been thus active, the Women’s Freedom League had startled London by cleverly organizing and smartly demonstrating in the Ladies Gallery of the House of Commons, on October 28th, 1908. That morning all the world had awakened to find that little placards, headed ‘A Proclamation containing a demand for Votes for Women’ had been posted on every hoarding. At 8:30 in the evening, whilst Parliament was discussing the Licensing Bill, and Mr. Remnant, one of the Conservative Members, was speaking, a woman in the Ladies Gallery suddenly thrust through the brass grille one of those proclamations with a cry of ‘Votes for Women!’”

–Sylvia Pankurst


Ladies were excluded from the House of Commons, but a gallery, above that of those reserved for reporters, was provided. Essentially, those of the female persuasion were “caged” behind a grille, as separated and invisible to the gentlemen down below in the Commons chamber as the women in Middle Eastern harems. After the Women’s Freedom League laid assault to the Commons through the Ladies Gallery, Parliament closed both the strangers’ and the ladies’ galleries for good.




~ by eaesthete on 08/19/09.

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