From Petitions To Prime Ministers: Discover The History Of Women In Parliament This Year

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From Petitions To Prime Ministers: Discover The History Of Women In Parliament This Year

This is a sponsored article on behalf of Houses of Parliament.

Copyright Metaphor/ Caroline Ellis

Ever wanted to take a look inside the Houses of Parliament?

Now's your chance. 2018 marks the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 — legislation that granted some women and all men the vote for the first time — and to celebrate, visitors are invited to step inside and discover the story of women in Parliament.

The free exhibition, Voice & Vote, takes place in the stunning Westminster Hall, and charts women's place in Parliament through rare and previously unseen historic objects, pictures and archives from parliamentary and private collections.

Copyright Notice: ©Family Descendants of Alice Hawkins. Photo credit: Parliamentary Archives

It's hard to believe now, but 200 years ago,  politically-engaged women — banned from the chamber itself — were forced to observe parliamentary debates via a loft space known as 'The Ventilator', located above the House of Commons Chamber.

Even post-1918, when women could stand for Parliament, female members had to share a poorly furnished, overcrowded office. Meetings were held in corridors, and many had to sit on the floor to do their paperwork — the room was quickly branded 'The Tomb'.

Historic spaces like these, now long-gone, have been faithfully recreated as part of the exhibition, giving you a real feel for what it was like to be a woman in Parliament throughout history.

Entry is completely free, but capacity is limited, so tickets must be booked ahead. The exhibition is open Monday-Saturday until 6 October 2018, and on many dates, your visit can be paired with a tour of the Houses of Parliament.

In addition to the guided and audio tours that run on Saturdays throughout the year and most weekdays during parliamentary recesses, a special From Petitions to Prime Ministers: A Short History of Women in Parliament guided tour is running for a limited period this August. This 90-minute tour lets you explore the building and its significance in the Votes for Women story.

Don't forget to check out the stunning New Dawn light sculpture while you're there. The continually changing art piece is located in Westminster Hall, and celebrates all those involved in the campaign for women's suffrage.

Voice & Vote: Women's Place in Parliament is open Monday-Saturday until 6 October 2018, and is completely free to visit. Capacity is limited so booking ahead is recommended. From Petitions to Prime Ministers: A Short History of Women in Parliament guided tours are available for a limited period this August. Click here to view dates and book your place.

Last Updated 18 July 2018