Film news

Meryl Streep rallies the Suffragettes in Islington’s Myddelton Square

9th October 2015
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Islington’s Myddelton Square is at the very heart of the Suffragette movement, in the new movie opening on Monday October 12th. The houses and street-lighting in the square were perfect for the scene, providing rare access to appropriate period architecture.

Meryl Streep (playing Emmeline Pankhurst) addresses the crowd from a balcony in the square, which is part of resident Barbara Riddell’s home. Ms Riddell said, “Meryl Streep was completely charming and delightful. I remember one of the younger, less well-known actresses came into the kitchen one day and said ‘Meryl keeps remembering my name!’ which shows how courteous and interested in others Meryl Streep is.”

During the filming, which spanned over three evenings in March 2014, Mrs Riddell also provided food for the cast and crew.

“Meryl was very complimentary about my chicken soup,” she said. “Unfortunately Carey Mulligan [who stars as Maud Watts] couldn’t eat my biscuits as she was going to do the force-feeding scene the next day.”

Here’s what Ms Riddell told the Islington Gazette.

A local newspaper captured the filming in March last year from outside, with Meryl Streep (playing Emmeline Pankhurst) rallying the crowd. Take a look here.

Suffragette also stars Carey Mulligan as Maud, a working-class mother whose marriage and job are jeopardised when she joins the campaign to win women the vote. Maud is a composite of women in the Suffragette movement, portrayed fighting alongside real figures such as Emily Wilding Davison and Emmeline Pankhurst.

The film portrays how violent and gruelling the fight became. Here’s the trailer.

FilmFixer director Andrew Pavord says, “In the locations used for this film, Londoners have been drawn back to the remarkable story of women’s Suffrage that played out here.

“Quite unbelievably there wasn’t even a plaque in the Houses of Parliament to Emily Wilding Davison, until the late Tony Benn installed one surreptitiously in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft. The film has given us a fresh chance to re-visit these important events.”

Parliament in fact opened its doors to filming for the first time ever last year, to accommodate the production. Aside from protesting outside – and often chained to – the gates of Parliament, Emily Davison hid in a cupboard in the Chapel on census night in 1911. This way her address would be recorded as the House of Commons, so she could claim equality with men.

In April last year, on behalf of Lambeth Council, we arranged for the movie’s Suffragettes to be filmed crossing Westminster Bridge, with the Houses of Parliament in the background.

The production also used historic Theed Street in Lambeth, making a donation afterwards to the Lambeth Estate Residents Association and to the Hatchrow Housing Co-op.

Back in Islington, in gratitude for the extensive use of Myddelton Square, the production made a donation to the local residents’ association. Ms Monica Potts, who chairs the Myddelton Square Association, says, “We were grateful for the donation and have great plans on putting it to work for residents. We’re all looking forward to seeing the film next week.”

Islington’s House of Detention on Sans Walk became the horrific jail cells in Holloway Prison where the women were force-fed. The vast underground system of cells is quite appropriately a former jail and workhouse, first built in 1615.

Even the Daily Mail was duped last year into believing Lincoln’s Inn in Camden was the real Holloway Prison. Take a look at what the paper said.

Lincoln’s Inn Gate was dressed as the pre-1914 prison gates of Holloway jail. In these scenes, Helena Bonham Carter and Carey Mulligan are released from prison, and greeted by supporters.

Many interior scenes were also shot in Camden’s former Central St Martins school.

“It’s been a privilege for everyone involved to support this film,” Andrew Pavord says. “It’s reassuring that much of London from that period remains available, to help bring such an important story, set in the capital, back to life.”