Council offices renamed after suffragist

Cllr Peter Chowney with Frances Bedford of the Muriel Matters Society and council staff SUS-161221-164407001
Cllr Peter Chowney with Frances Bedford of the Muriel Matters Society and council staff SUS-161221-164407001

Hastings Borough Council offices on Hastings seafront have been renamed Muriel Matters House.

The building formerly known as Aquila House has undergone massive refurbishment over the last 18 months creating bright, new, modern offices and a welcoming Tourist Information Centre.

Not only has the building had a top-to-toe makeover, but the council has also recently purchased the building, saving money on future rental outgoings.

The council now receives an additional income of £135,000 p.a. from renting out parts of the town hall and Muriel Matters House. In addition, the council is making a net saving of £75,000 p.a. from purchasing the building rather than paying rent.

To mark the fresh start the council has renamed the building Muriel Matters House.

Council leader Cllr Peter Chowney said: “Muriel Lilah Matters was an Australian-born suffragist, lecturer, journalist, educator, actress and elocutionist. She lived in Pelham Crescent, here in Hastings, next door to our offices, and stood for election as MP in the town in 1924. She died aged 92, at a nursing home in St Leonards.”

He added: “Based in Britain from 1905 until her death, Matters is best known for her work on behalf of the Women’s Freedom League during the height of the militant struggle to extend the vote to women in the United Kingdom. In 1909, Ms Matters chained herself to a grille in the Ladies’ Gallery of the House of Commons.

“With the knowledge that the building was to be renamed, Frances Bedford, Australian MP and secretary of the Muriel Matters Society in Australia, visited the UK on a whirlwind tour to promote Muriel Matters and her cause. She was thrilled that Muriel would be recognised in her home town in this way.”

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