Parliament exhibition to tell suffragette stories

Rare items from the suffragette movement will be on display in the Houses of Parliament’s Voice and Vote exhibition (June 27-October 6).

The exhibition tells the story of a century of women’s voices in Parliament, and it recreates lost historic spaces known as ‘The Ventilator’, ‘The Cage’ and ‘The Tomb’, which were used to segregate women from the business of Parliament.

Visitors will be able to see key historic objects from Parliamentary collections and significant items on loan from around the UK.

One loan reveals the story of Alice Hawkins (pictured), a suffragette from Leicester who was jailed five times for campaigning for women’s rights.

The loan from her family includes her original Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) sash (pictured on home page), a ‘Holloway’ portcullis brooch and her hunger strike medal, awarded by the WSPU for “a gallant action”. It is the first time these items have been put on public display.

Joanne Marriott, Alice Hawkins’ great-great-grand-daughter, said: “I am proud to loan these objects to Parliament, it is a fitting tribute to the vital work that Alice carried out. She was just one woman, but now we can really appreciate how crucial her, and all the other women’s, dedication and sacrifice was to our democracy. Alice was an inspiration to our family and to the women of today and the future.”

Melanie Unwin, co-curator of the Voice and Vote exhibition, said: “This exciting exhibition should really give the public a sense of the barriers that women had to overcome to participate in democracy.

“We are delighted to be able to feature Alice Hawkins, whose extraordinary story will be brought to life by these rare surviving items which celebrate her bravery and commitment.

“We are very grateful to the family for allowing them to be displayed in public for the first time in the Voice and Vote exhibition, where I’m sure they will prove inspirational.”

Groups can combine a visit to the free exhibition in Westminster Hall with a tour of the Houses of Parliament.

Pictures: Vote 100 – Alice Hawkins
Credit: Parliament WOA