Period movie Suffragette, which charts the campaign for women’s votes in Britain, has made history as well as dramatising it, by becoming the first film to use the Houses of Parliament as a set.
With MPs off on their Easter break, stars Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonhman Carter filmed outside the London landmark alongside hundreds of extras earlier this week, while scenes were also shot inside the building, in the central lobby and one of the committee rooms.
The money raised from allowing filming will go towards Parliament’s running costs, with the House of Commons targeting a 17% reduction in overall outgoings by 2015.
Suffragette director Sarah Gavron said: “Our film is inspired by the true stories of the foot soldiers of the Suffragette movement, women who were willing to sacrifice everything in their fight for the right to vote.
“We are honoured to be allowed to recreate a crucial moment in that long journey towards equality by filming where the Suffragettes actually brought their protest over 100 years ago.”
Sir Alan Haselhurst MP, chair of the House of Commons administration committee, said: “As a British film which clearly relates to Parliament’s history and heritage, this is an ideal pilot for the House of Commons to identify the opportunities for location filming and income generation.
“We hope the film will engage the public with Parliament’s history and heritage, and will offer a new way to bring our iconic buildings to a wider audience.”
Adrian Wootton, chief executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: “Opening up such an iconic location as the House of Commons for filming is fantastic news.
“This unique location promises to attract more production to the capital, and by working with the industry and our partners, we will help ensure it can get the most out of filming, while protecting the integrity of this very special building.”
Sufragette also features an appearance by multiple Oscar-winner Meryl Streep as one of the movement’s leaders Emmeline Pankhurst. Pankhurst was imprisoned in 1908 after attempting to enter the House of Commons.