Parliament and Votes for Women

London Historians' Blog

A guest post by LH Member Anne Carwardine.

Source: Parliamentary Archives. Source: Parliamentary Archives.

As a woman, if I had wanted to observe proceedings in Parliament two hundred years ago I would have had to crane my neck and peer down through a ventilation shaft. One hundred years ago I would have been in the Ladies Gallery, high above the Speaker’s Chair, with a heavy metal grille blocking much of my view and making it difficult to focus. (Campaigner Millicent Fawcett described this as like looking through a gigantic pair of spectacles which did not fit).

On a recent tour of Parliament, which focussed on connections with the Votes for Women campaign, the group I was in (mostly women) stood on the floor of the House of Commons looking up at the Ladies’ Gallery and wondering what it would have been like to be confined there.

In October 1908 Muriel Matters and…

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Flight from the East End

I was brought up in Richmond and I’m ashamed that people living there during the war were not more welcoming. So much for everyone pulling together, as Simon Fowler says.

London Historians' Blog

A guest post by London Historians Member, Simon Fowler

evac1The story of brave Cockneys grinning and bearing it during the Blitz in 1940 is really a myth. The start of German air raids on Docklands and the East End in late August saw many panicky families flee the bombing. Some sheltered in Epping Forest, while others made it as far as Reading and Oxford. Frank Lewey, the Mayor of Stepney, who arranged the despatch of thousands of desperate men, women and children, wrote later that he and his staff were…
“far too busy to keep records of the evacuees. It was all we could do to get them out of London fast enough. We did not know where they had all gone, or all who had gone there, except that one hundred and fifty had gone to Ealing, two hundred and thirty to Richmond and so on.”

In Richmond…

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Wood Street Police Station

London Historians' Blog

A guest post by LH Member Hannah Renier.

Near the Barbican, where the road splits around St Alban’s Church tower, you’ll find Wood Street Police Station. It’s large, historic, and about to undergo a partial rebuild. About twenty of us took the tour on the Saturday of Open House Weekend.

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We heard about the origins of the City Police as a citizen force from 1285, the struggle to maintain its independence as a City institution, the years when every applicant for the job had to be six feet one in stockinged feet, and the unbroken tradition of separation from royal influence. To this day, there’s no crown on the cap badge. However there have been abundant crises and changes in 730 years, and at Wood Street a small museum holds a fascinating collection of uniforms, old photographs, weapons, records made long before Data Protection, and memorabilia from famous crimes like…

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Alice in Cartoonland

London Historians' Blog

2015 is the Year of the Big Anniversary, it seems. They just keep coming. Here’s another one for you: this year is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. It was published in London by Macmillan & Co on 26 November 1865 with 42 illustrations by John Tenniel. This is key, because immediately the words and the pictures formed a symbiotic relationship which informed everything to do with Alice from that day hence, influencing how other illustrators, film-makers, producers etc visualised and presented and re-presented Alice to this day.

Alice in Blunderland by John Tenniel, 1880 Alice in Blunderland by John Tenniel, 1880

No where is this better demonstrated than at a new exhibition which opened this week at the Cartoon Museum: Alice in Cartoonland. 

As it happens, Charles Dodgson (i.e. Carroll) fancied himself as something of an illustrator and despite being turned down by various journals (“not up to…

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Murder on the Streets of Restoration London

London Historians' Blog

Review: Lady Betty and the Murder of Mister Thynn by N.A. Pickford.

lady bette and the murder of my thynnIn an age when women – no matter how high born – had few rights, wealthy heiresses found themselves sometimes to be both bargaining counters of their guardians and targets for kidnappers after rich pickings. Lady Bette was one such, but so much more than that: she was a Percy and the heiress to the Northumberland estates: the very top echelon of the English aristocracy. Think Syon House in Brentford and Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, both still with us. Add to this the magnificent Northumberland House near Charing Cross – lost to the railways and urban expansion of the late 19C; and Petworth House and it’s clear that in the late Seventeenth Century, the Percys of Northumberland were an ancient and noble family of the first rank. They still are today.

So when Bette’s father, the 11 Duke of Northumberland died in 1670 when she…

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