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Royal Commonwealth Society : Ladies’ Drawing Room

Bedford Lemere & Co. for the Royal Empire Society

Royal Commonwealth Society

<p style='text-align: justify;'> This elegantly furnished room in the Society’s new Northumberland Avenue building was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and furnished by Lady Weigall, wife of Sir Archibald Weigall, chairman of council. It had a parquet floor made with timbers from around the Empire. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'> Women had attended meetings as guests of fellows from the early 1870s, but they had been prohibited from using the institute’s rooms. Female membership had been considered by the council as early as 1876 but rejected on the grounds that their accommodation was unsuitable. It was only after the Society invited Flora Shaw (later Lady Lugard) to read a paper at a meeting in January 1894 and it resulted in two columns and an editorial in The Times that opinions started to change! Flora Shaw gave a second paper in June 1904, and in March 1909 Mrs Douglas Cator gave a presentation in front of a large female audience. By the end of 1909 women had been admitted as associate members and finally in 1922 were admitted as fellows. Mrs Alec Tweedie was the first female fellow. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'> The photograph is taken from a collection of lantern slides commissioned by the Society to mark the opening of its new headquarters building in 1936, many of which were published in its journal United Empire </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>See Janus record <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>here</a></p>

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