Celebrating suffragette

Muriel Matters
Muriel Matters

The life of a Hastings suffragette will be celebrated at an upcoming event on Thursday (April 16).

Members of the Muriel Matters Society will be travelling to 1066 Country from Australia to present the docudrama, Muriel Matters in the auditorium of St Mary in the Castle in Pelham Crescent.

The event starts at 6pm and the admission price is what visitors can afford.

Sean Berkeley, venue manager, said: “Those who have visited St Mary in the Castle know that it’s one of Hastings’ best hidden gems. After meandering corridors lead behind the restaurant into the former crypt, a spiral staircase ascends into the beautiful domed auditorium of the former neo-classical church, carved into the side of Hastings’ West Hill.

“However, few people know that number 7 Pelham Crescent, which is now part of this Grade II* listed building was once home to one of the most significant women of the 20th century - Muriel Matters.

“She was a suffragette, lecturer, educator and actress. She was famed for being the first woman to ‘speak’ in the House of Commons because she chained herself to the grille of the Ladies Gallery that both separated women from proceedings and obscured their view. The police then had no choice but to remove it in order to free her.

This is an exciting opportunity to visit the historic building and to learn more about Muriel Matters, who has contributed to the town’s already detailed and characterful history

Sean Berkeley, venue manager

“In 1909, in another one of her endeavours she took to the sky in an airship inscribed with the words Votes For Women to distribute leaflets over the House of Commons, at a time when ‘the sight of an airship was enough to make people run for their lives’. After this the Adelaide-born activist moved to 7 Pelham Crescent where she stayed until her death in 1969.

“The Muriel Matters Society in Australia aims to share her remarkable life and promote her ideals of fairness and equality. Being such huge fans of St Mary’s, the society is kindly allowing us to show the film to raise money for the upkeep of the building as well as raising the profile of Muriel Matters. This is an exciting opportunity to visit the historic building and to learn more about Muriel Matters, who has contributed to the town’s already detailed and characterful history.”