When Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd attended the celebrations to mark the 90th anniversary of Rye Castle Museum last Saturday, July 28, she was met by two of the museum’s volunteers dressed as suffragettes – the women who campaigned to get votes for women – and they could celebrate two other anniversaries.
Rye Museum was opened in 1928 but, ten years earlier, 1918 saw two new laws passed which affected women and democracy.
The Representation of the People Act 1918 gave the vote to all men over 30 and some women (who met minimum property qualifications) – but not all – and the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 allowed women to stand for Parliament as an MP.
However in 1928 all men and all women over 21 got the vote.
And the first woman elected as an MP in 1918, Constance Markievicz, never took her seat as she was an Irish Republican.
So the first woman to take her seat was Nancy Astor, the Viscountess Astor, (born an American) in 1919.
Amber Rudd said: “It was such a pleasure to attend this lovely commemoration of Rye Castle Museum for which a magnificent 90th birthday cake marked the occasion.
“There is no doubt that Rye Castle Museum is an important tourist attraction for visitors and tourists to Rye, so we are very fortunate indeed that these important historical sites are maintained and cared for with such diligence by Rye Museum Association.”
Photo: Amber Rudd’s office