MP flys 10,000 miles to promote Suffragette story

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THE STORY of Hastings own famous suffragette was brought to life again during another visit by a campaigning Australian MP.

Frances Bedford, MP for Florey, South Australia spent Tuesday visiting Pelham Crescent where Muriel Matters made a speech on women’s suffrage.

Frances Bedford dressed as Muriel Matters, White Rock Hotel, Hastings. 30/7/13

Frances Bedford dressed as Muriel Matters, White Rock Hotel, Hastings. 30/7/13

Dressed in costume, she went on to give a talk at Hastings Museum.

Matters was born in Adelaide in 1877. She later moved to the UK but was shocked to discover that women were still disenfranchised here and she joined the Suffragette movement in 1905. She became the first woman to make a speech in the House of Commons in 1908 from the public gallery. She chained herself to the railings that that were at the front of the women’s’ gallery and she had to be carried out of the chamber still attached to it.

She stood unsuccessfully as a Labour candidate for parliament in Hastings in 1924 but she stayed in the town, becoming an educational reformer. She died in 1969, aged 92.

Mrs Bedford is part of the The Muriel Matters Society founded in Australia in 2009. She visits Hastings every year to promote the work of Miss Matters.

This involved promoting the history of her career, the ideals and vision around her philosophy of equality and access and encouraging members and the wider public to adopt her principles for social justice and egalitarian values.