Over 100 public statues of women can be found in the UK. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, 8 March 2021, the PSSA launched a database of these multifarious sculptures representing women of achievement from past and present. The database includes many well-known figures with a range of attainments: nurses such as Edith Cavell, Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole, the pilot Amy Johnson, writers such as Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf and George Eliot, performers such as Gracie Fields, Margot Fonteyn, Amy Winehouse and Victoria Wood, activists such as Mary Barbour, Millicent Fawcett and Emmeline Pankhurst, and countless others. These exceptional women lived full and extraordinary lives. The sculptures embody their achievements for posterity, works of art in bronze or stone to commemorate them and further our understanding of their contributions to our own lives and history. The database excludes royal personages, as well as mythological or allegorical female figures, which are in a different category from these representations of people whose successes stemmed from their own endeavours.
We would welcome contributions to the database, if you know of any other statues of women not included here, or if you wish to add information, such as further dates, about the statues on the list. Please use the form to the right. We are aware this is an evolving resource which will expand as time goes on.
There are 112 statues recorded in the database.
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Photo: © newham.sch.uk
Edith S. Kerrison (1850-1934) was a nurse and then hospital matron. A member of the Executive of the Women’s Labour League, Kerrison was the first woman to serve on West Ham Council. She was later offered the mayoralty but refused the role because of her age. She championed women and children. This memorial, dated 1936, was erected in the same year and this was also somewhat bizarrely, since she was dead, the year in which she was made a honorary freeman of the borough of West Ham. The memorial comprises a bronze bas relief with her portrait medallion in the centre and young children playing on either side. The relief is mounted on a stone plinth inscribed on the front ‘ERECTED BY MANY FRIENDS IN MEMORY OF A LIFE OF SERVICE TO OTHERS’. A further inscription on the back is badly eroded.
Sculptor: Christine Gregory
Location: Outside the Public Library, The Grove, Stratford, West Ham, E.15
Photo: Vernon39, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Dame Louisa Brandreth, DBE Aldrich-Blake (1865-1925) had an impressive career as Dean of the London (Royal Free) Hospital School of Medicine for Women, and as a consultant surgeon. She was also a skilled boxer and cricketer. The memorial in the south-east corner of Tavistock Square features her two portrait busts in bronze (one facing the Square, the other the road), erected 1926.
Designer: Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944)
Sculptor: Arthur George Walker (1861-1939)
Location: Tavistock Square, London WC1.
Photo: Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (educational).
Dame Eleanor Allan (b.?- d.1708), founder of Dame Allan’s schools, figure in niche, white stone, erected c.1882.
Architect : R.J. Johnson (1832-1892)
Location: West façade, College House, Northumberland Road, Newcastle, Tyne and Wear.
Photo: Rosser1954 Wikimedia Commons
Jean Armour (1765-1834), ‘Bonnie Jean’ the wife of Robert Burns, inspired his poetry and was also known as the ‘Belle of Mauchline’. Armour was born in Mauchline and the couple were married there. This bronze statue was unveiled in 2002.
Location: Mauchline, East Ayrshire, Scotland.
Photo: Creative Commons CC BY-SA3.0
Jean Armour (1765-1834), ‘Bonnie Jean’ the wife of Robert Burns, inspired his poetry. A statue of Armour was erected by the Burns Howff Club in 2004. The design specified she would appear as she did in Robert Burns’ lifetime, with a bible and a small child. The couple moved to Dumfries in 1791 and spent the remainder of their lives there.
Location: Opposite St. Michael's Church, Dumfries, Scotland.
Katie Ashridge (1994-1999), Katie playing Netball is a memorial statue in bronze, commissioned by her parents. Their daughter, a schoolgirl, died tragically young. It was unveiled in November 2011.
Sculptor: Laura Lian (b.1952)
Location: Malvern College, Malvern, Worcestershire.
Photo: Hayley Gibbs
Nancy Astor CH (Viscountess) (1879-1964), an American-born British politician, who was the first woman to take her seat in Parliament, MP for Plymouth 1919-45. The statue was publicly funded and presented by Plymouth Women in Business and the Astor 100 – Project to celebrate 100 years of women in parliament. This bronze statue, which is signed and dated 2019, was unveiled in that year.
Sculptor: Hayley Gibbs (b. 1987)
Location: Plymouth Hoe, Devon.
Jane Austen (1775-1817), novelist. The maquette for this statue was also cast in bronze and is at St. Nicholas Church, Chawton House, Alton, Hampshire. There are small differences between the two works. This statue was unveiled in 2017.
Sculptor: Adam Roud (b.1971)
Location: Market Place, Basingstoke, Hampshire.
Jane Austen (1775-1817), novelist. A bronze statue on a Portland stone base, which was cast from the maquette for the Basingstoke sculpture, and is a slight variant of that composition. It was unveiled in 2018.
Sculptor: Adam Roud (b.1971)
Location: St. Nicholas Church, Chawton House, Alton, Hampshire.
Photo: LesleyMitchell Wikimedia Commons
Mary Barbour (1875-1958), Scottish activist, local councillor, bailie and magistrate. She led strikes in the city of Glasgow when property owners put up rents in 1915. This sculpture, which was erected by the Mary Barbour Association depicts her leading the strike. It was unveiled on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2018.
Sculptor: Andrew Brown
Location: Govan Place, Glasgow, Scotland.