Ladies’ Gallery at the Commons

Ladies' Gallery House of Commons

Ladies were excluded from the House of Commons, but a gallery, above that of those reserved for reporters, was provided. Ironically–or not?–ladies were “caged” behind a grille, as separated and invisible to the gentlemen down in the Commons 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 the time being.

Whilst the WSPU had been thus active, the Women’s Freedom League had startled London by cleverly organized and smartly demonstration 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


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