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News: Suffragette Cities

2018 is the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act, the law granting certain women the right to vote. There are countrywide events planned to mark the centenary.

In April, a statue to suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett will be unveiled in London’sParliament Square – the first woman to be honoured in that prestigious location. The monument includes tiles depicting 59 key women – and a few men – who were central in the campaign for women’s suffrage.

From June, Westminster Hall – the oldest part of the Houses of Parliament – will host the exhibition Voice and Vote, exploring the impact of women on parliament over the last 200 years. The free display includes a recreation of ‘the Ventilator’, a loft space above the House of Commons chamber where women – who were banned from the public galleries – listened to parliamentary debates. Britain’s suffragette movement started in Manchester in 1903 when Emmeline Pankhurst held the first meeting of the Women’s Social and Political Union at her home at Nelson Street. The house, now the Pankhurst Centre, is holding a series of events to mark the centenary. In 2019, a statue of Pankhurst will be unveiled inManchester, the city’s first monument to a woman in more than 100 years.

In July, the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show will feature a show garden with flowers in the purple, white and green colours of the suffragette movement. There will be processions on June 10 in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London with women encouraged to march in four-coordinated parades dressed in green, white or purple, alongside new centenary banner made as part of a public programme of text and textile workshops that echo the creative aspects of the suffrage campaign.

The National Trust will be putting on talks, tours and exhibitions at properties that have connections to women who influenced the suffrage movement. Among the places showcased are Cliveden in Berkshire, former residence of NancyAstor, the first female MP to take her seat, and Bodnant House in Conwy, Wales, former home of Laura McLaren, founder of the Liberal Women’s Suffrage Union. At Knole House in Sevenoaks, Kent A Woman’s Place brings to life stories of the women of Knole, from Vita Sackville-West to a little-documented laundress called Grace Robinson.

For tour ideas and local guides, go to our website www.britainsguides.org