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Harry Furniss: Ladies Gallery

Harry Furniss (1854 – 1925) was an artist best known for his satirical cartoons. These cartoons often depicted both daily life and major political events in Parliament. This sketch is an example of his more realistic work, showing women sat in the Ladies' Gallery of the House of Commons chamber. The Ladies' Gallery was constructed as part of the new Palace of Westminster following the 1834 fire. While it did open up Parliament to women on a larger scale than ever before, the heavy metal grille covering the windows, as can be seen in the sketch, maintained a sense of exclusion from political activity. The grille also made it hard for the women to see or hear the debates properly. The Ladies' Gallery became the sight of suffragette action. In October 1908 a banner was unfurled into the chamber and two of the suffragettes present, Muriel Matters and Helen Fox, chained themselves to the grille.