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: John Rylands Research Institute and Library.
Enriqueta Augustina Rylands (1843-1908), a philanthropist, was the third wife of the wealthy cotton manufacturer, John Rylands. After his death, she spent 20 years and around two million pounds of his fortune building the John Rylands Library in his memory. For further details see previous entry. This bronze statuette (h.95cm.) was commissioned by the supporters of the Library. Signed and dated 1905 by the sculptor, John Cassidy, this cast is a reduction of the larger statue. Previously displayed on the fourth floor of the Library, this bronze is now exhibited in the Library foyer.
Sculptor: John Cassidy (1860-1939)
Location: Foyer opposite the Reception Desk, John Rylands Library, Manchester.
Photo: AndyScott Wikimedia Commons
Ada Salter (1866-1942) was a social reformer, pacifist and environmentalist. She was President of the Women’s Labour League and President of the National Gardens Guild. She was one of the first women councillors in London, first woman mayor in London, and first Labour woman mayor in the British Isles. Her statue which forms part of a sculptural bronze group, Dr. Salter’s Daydream, comprising the whole Salter family was unveiled on 30 November 2014. It replaced a previous group, of the same title also by Gorvin made for London Docklands in 1991. The statue of Dr. Salter, which was stolen from the earlier group in 2011, did not include a statue of Ada, but she is present in the new sculpture. This represents Alfred Salter in his old age sitting imagining happier times watching his wife, Ada, his daughter Joyce, who died at the age of eight and her cat. This replacement sculpture was erected by the Salter Campaign Group and Southwark Council.
Sculptor: Diana Gorvin (b.1956)
Location: Bermondsey Wall East, Cherry Gardens, London SE16.
Photo: GeneralJohnsonJameson Wikimedia Commons
Dorothy L. Sayers (1893-1957) was a crime writer, poet, essayist, literary critic, linguist and a Christian humanist. She is known for her creation of the fictional amateur sleuth, Peter Wimsey. She was fond of cats and the bronze statue, set on a low stone plinth, shows her accompanied by her cat, Blitz. Sayers lived for many years in Witham and the statue is sited opposite her house and the Library. It was unveiled in 1994.
Sculptor: John Doubleday (b.1947)
Location: Newland Street, Witham, Essex.
Photo: Creative Commons CC.0
Mary Seacole (1805-1881), nurse and businesswoman. Her bronze statue was unveiled in 2016, the result of a 12 year campaign by the Mary Seacole Statue Appeal. It was the first in the UK to honour a named black woman.
Sculptor: Martin Jennings (b.1957)
Location: outside St Thomas’ Hospital, SE1
Photo: David Hawgood Wikimedia Commons
Sarah Siddons (1755-1831), Welsh-born celebrated tragic actress, dubbed ‘tragedy personified’ by the critic William Hazlitt. She worshipped at St Mary on Paddington Green. The statue’s pose is based on the portrait, Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse (1789) by Sir Joshua Reynolds at Dulwich Picture Gallery. White marble, Portland stone pedestal, unveiled 1897. Grade II listed.
Sculptor: Léon Joseph Chavalliaud (1858-1919)
Location: Paddington Green, London, W2
Photo: courtesy of Matthew Jarron.
Mary Slessor (1848-1915) was born in Aberdeen and moved to Dundee as a child, where she worked in a textile mill from the age of eleven. Deeply religious, she became interested in missionary work and applied to the United Presbyterian Church’s Foreign Mission Board. After training, she travelled to Calabar in Nigeria, where she spread Christianity, promoted women’s rights, protected native children and is famous for having stopped the common practice of infanticide of twins. There is a bust of her in the Hall of Heroes at the Wallace Monument in Stirling and various statues of her in Calabar. This monument, a bronze portrait relief together with bronze plaque set into a block of Aberdeen granite, was erected in 2015. It was commissioned by the Mary Slessor Foundation with support from Dundee City Council and other donors.
Sculptor: Roddy Mathieson (b. 1973)
Location: Outside the Steeple Church, Nethergate, Dundee, Scotland.
Photo: courtesy of Matthew Jarron
Helen Halyburton Symers (1831-1906) was a noted philanthropist in Dundee, who gave large sums to many local causes including St Paul’s United Free Church, University College Dundee, Royal Victoria Hospital, the Convalescent Home and the Salvation Army Rescue Home. She donated the site for the Arthurstone Branch Library and set up a Fund for Indigent Females with a donation of £10,000. She was also president of the Dundee Ladies’ Union, treasurer of the Female Society for Visiting & Relieving Aged Females in Distress, a member of the Industrial Schools Society and the Home for Reformation of Females. In 1899, she became only the third woman to be made a Burgess of Dundee. This bronze relief and the Arthurstone Library were designed by the Dundee architect, James Thomson. The relief is dated 1905 and it was unveiled in that year.
Designer: James Thomson (1852–1927)
Maker: T.& E. Nicholls
Location: Entrance to Arthurstone Library, Dundee, Scotland.
Photo: Ian S. geograph.org.uk
Violette Szabo (1921-1945), British/French undercover agent, Special Operations Executive (SOE) during WWII, captured on her second mission to France, shot at Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, she was 24 years’ old, posthumously awarded the George Cross and the French Croix de Guerre. The memorial is a portrait bust, bronze on polished granite plinth, unveiled 2009.
Sculptor: Karen Newman (b.1951)
Location: In front of Lambeth Palace, Albert Embankment, South Bank, London SE1.
Photo: © Antony Dufort 2007
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (1925-2013) was a Conservative politician. She was MP for Finchley 1959-92 and the first woman to become leader of a major political party in the UK. The longest serving British Prime Minister of the twentieth century, she was also the first woman to hold that office. Her statue in bronze was unveiled on 21 February 2007.
Sculptor: Antony Dufort FRSS SPS (b.1948)
Founder: Bronze Age Foundry, Limehouse
Location: Members' Lobby, Palace of Westminster, London.
Photo: John Owen Smith geograph.org.uk
Flora Thompson (1846-1947), postal worker, novelist and poet, best known for her trilogy, Lark Rise to Candleford, much of her writing is autobiographical. She lived in Liphook. Her portrait bust in bronze was unveiled in 1981 outside the Sorting Office, then after being vandalised, it was recast and re-sited inside Liphook Library in 1995.
Sculptor: Philip Jackson (b.1944)
Location: Liphook Library, Hampshire.