Sunday, 16 June 2013


One of the incidental pleasures accruing from The Professor's membership of the ODOA is the opportunity to visit unusual places. Our European visits have taken us to obscure monasteries in Portugal, precipitous villages in the Italian Alps, and this year, to the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart (where they have no fewer than twelve organs - little boys and sweetshops came to mind).

This weekend, however, we were closer to home, in the Palace of Westminster. There we visited the William Drake organ in St Mary Undercroft, a jewel-like realisation of the Victorian idea of a mediaeval chapel.

Those of us who are not organists tend to mooch around exploring while the others play, and one of our number opened a door which turned out to lead to the cleaner's cupboard. (It happens to us a lot.) On the back of the door, however, she found this: a memorial to Emily Wilding Davison.

It reads:
In this broom cupboard Emily Wilding Davison hid herself, illegally, during the night of the 1911 census. She was a brave suffragette campaigning for votes for women at a time when Parliament denied them that right. In this way she was able to record her address, on the night of the census, as being 'The House of Commons', thus making her claim to the same political rights as men.
Emily  Wilding Davison died in June 1913 from injuries sustained when she threw herself in front of the King's horse at the Derby to draw public attention to the injustice suffered by women. By such means was democracy won for the people of Britain.

The lines at the bottom read:
Notice placed here by Tony Benn MP
"I must tell you, Mr Speaker, that I am going to get a plaque in the House. I shall have it made myself and screwed on the door of the broom cupboard in the Crypt."
 The moral is that a door may lead you to buckets and mops - or to a snippet of English history. Sometimes both.

Sorry about the temporary break in transmission: life overtook me.

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