Just over a hundred years ago, on 1 December 1919, something unprecedented happened in British politics: a woman entered Parliament for the first time. American socialite Nancy Astor had just won a by-election in Plymouth Sutton, ironically replacing her husband, Waldorf Astor, who had just been ennobled, as the Tory MP there.
The campaign to win women the vote and the right to enter the Commons had been raging ever since more than a dozen people were killed and hundreds injured at the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester in 1819. Henry Hunt, the main speaker at the Peterloo rally that never happened, later became the first MP to put forward a bill to allow women to vote in general elections, but that was back in the 1830s. Two generations later the Pankhurst family took over the campaign, leading one of the most bitter and brutal political battles in British history, for many years from Manchester.
Partial victory was celebrated in 1918 when (some) women were at last allowed to vote and stand. One woman was elected, but never took her seat. A year later Nancy Astor made up for it.
Hear the full story on our eye-opening guided tours.
International Women’s Week Special
March 2020 tour: Sunday 1 March 2020.
Meet: Emmeline Pankhurst Statue, St Peter’s Square, 11.30am.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.