Australian MP’s visit on town’s suffragette

AN Australian MP is visiting Hastings later this month to give a talk about the life and career of suffragette Muriel Matters.

Frances Bedford, State MP for Florey, South Australia, will be at Hastings Museum and Art Gallery on Tuesday, July 30, from 6pm.

Cllr Emily Westley, the council’s lead member for leisure and amenities, said: “Muriel Matters was born in Adelaide in 1877 and came to the UK in 1905 to join the suffragette movement, through the Women’s Freedom League. Thanks to her gift for oratory and often daring exploits, she became something of a celebrity and is commemorated with a blue plaque in Pelham Crescent.”

Muriel Matters was the first woman to make a speech in the House of Commons in 1908, albeit unofficially, after chaining herself to a grille in the Ladies Gallery. Security staff ejected her through the main chamber, and she carried on with her speech. She later flew over London in an airship emblazoned with the slogan Votes for Women, dropping leaflets. In 1924 she stood unsuccessfully as a Labour candidate for Parliament in Hastings but stayed in the town until her death in 1969 at the age of 92, living at 7 Pelham Crescent from 1949 to 1969.