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Reconstructed prison cell at the Women's Exhibition

Broom, Christina1909-05

Museum of London

Museum of London
London, United Kingdom

The reconstructed prison cell exhibit at the Women's Exhibition, May 1909. The two week exhibition held at the at the Prince's Skating Rink in Knightsbridge was organised by the Women's Social and Political Union as a fund-raising, recruitment and propaganda event. The cell exhibit was intended to reveal the conditions in which Suffragette prisoners were held in Holloway. For an entrance fee of 6d visitors could enter the reconstructed cell and hear an explanation of a typical day in Holloway as an ex-Suffragette prisoner dressed in replica prison clothing carried out her daily duties including scouring pots and pans, making beds, scrubbing floors, sewing and making mailbags overlooked by a fellow Suffragette dressed as a prison warden. The exhibit also represented the Suffragettes grievance at being held as common criminals in the second division rather than as political prisoners with rights and privileges. Opposite the sparsely furnished cell with its plank bed was a reconstruction of a first division cell peopled with a wax model of a male political offender, possibly meant to be an MP, enjoying the comforts of a spring mattress, armchair and dainty china on a side table.

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