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 115 statues recorded in the database.
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Photo: Matt Harrop Wikimedia Commons
CC BY-SA 2.0
Annie Kenney (1879-1953), suffragette, who was the only working class woman to hold a senior position in the Women’s Social and Political Union. This bronze statue was unveiled in 2019.
Sculptor: Denise Dutton (b.1953)
Location: Outside Town Hall, Oldham, Greater Manchester.
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: Luke McKernan Wikimedia Commons
Noor Inayat Khan (1914-1944) was a British spy who served in the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in WWII. Codenamed Madeleine, she was the first female wireless operator to go from the UK into occupied France to assist the French Resistance. She was betrayed, captured and executed at Dachau concentration camp. She was posthumously awarded the George Cross and the Croix de Guerre for her service in the SOE. This bronze portrait bust was commissioned by the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust and unveiled in 2012. She lived near Gordon Square and used to read there.
Sculptor: Karen Newman MRSS (b.1951)
Location: Gordon Square, London WC1.
© the artist’s estate. Photo: Tracy Jenkins / Art UK
Kore, a real life teenager, is skilfully captured by the sculptor, Betty Rea, who conveys languid teen boredom tinged perhaps with a hint of irritation. The bronze statue dates from 1973. It was purchased in 1975 by the Harlow Art Trust and Harlow Development Corporation for Old Harlow to celebrate the European Council Architectural Heritage Award for Old Harlow. It was unveiled in 1975 by Sir Thomas Monnington, President of the Royal Academy.
Sculptor: Betty Rea (1904-1965)
Location: High Street, Harlow, Essex.
Photo: Ben Sutherland Wikimedia Commons
CC BY 2.0
Joan Littlewood (1914-2002), theatre director, who developed the renowned Theatre Workshop Company at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. Her bronze statue, The Mother of the Modern Theatre was unveiled in October 2015.
Sculptor: Philip Jackson FRSS (b.1944)
Location: Outside the Theatre Royal Stratford East, Gerry Raffles Square, London E15.
Photo: © the artist’s estate. Photo credit: Gordon Baird / Art UK
Liz Lochhead (b.1947), was a Scottish poet and playwright. She was Poet Laureate for Glasgow (2005-11)and the Makar, or National Poet of Scotland (2011-16). This signed bronze portrait bust, on Crossland Hill sandstone pillar, was unveiled on 4 Apil 2002. It forms part of a group of 12 Scottish poets, which are placed at intervals along the Lochside walkway. For further details see Ray McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh, vol.1, LUP 2018, pp. 398-400.
Sculptor: Vincent Butler (1933-2017)
Letter-cutter: Vincent Butler (1933-2017)
Founder: Powderhall Bronze
Location: Lochside Walkway, Edinburgh Park, South Gyle, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Dame Vera Lynn, DBE (1917-2020), singer, songwriter and entertainer, known as ‘the Forces’ Sweetheart’ during WWII and famously singing ‘The White Cliffs of Dover.’ The statue in silhouette is made from Corten steel and is one of a trio of statues. Similar groups representing other characters are being erected in parks and open spaces as part of the Sustrans project. The people and animals represented in these sculptures are chosen by local communities to celebrate Sustrans winning a nationwide vote in 2007 to create new walking and cycling routes across the UK. The project is funded by the Big Lottery Sustrans.
Location: Marine Parade, Dover, Kent.
Photo: Gordon Griffiths geograph.org.uk
Mary MacArthur (1880-1921), Scottish suffragist. She was General Secretary of the Women’s Trade Union League and helped form the National Federation of Women Workers and the Anti-Sweating League. She led the women chainworkers of Cradley Heath in a ten week strike in 1910, which resulted in a minmum wage and transformed their lives. The artist, Luke Perry, comes from a family of chainworkers. The memorial statue in steel stands three metres high and was unveiled in 2012.
Sculptor: Luke Perry (b.1983)
Location: Cradley Heath, West Midlands.
Photo: Nicholas Mutton Wikimedia Commons
Flora MacDonald (1722-1790) was a heroine of the Jacobite cause and helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape the Hanoverians after the Battle of Culloden (1746). Flora is depicted with her collie dog looking out over the valley of the River Ness. It is thought the statue was paid for by Capt. J. Henderson and the 78th Highlanders. The bronze statue, which stands on a granite pedestal, was erected in 1896.
Sculptor: Andrew Davidson (1841-1925)
Location: Castle Hill, Inverness, Scotland.
Photo: Jim Linwood Wikimedia Commons
Margaret MacDonald (1870-1911) was a feminist, social reformer, and wife of the first Labour Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald. They lived in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. MacDonald joined the Women’s Industrial Council in 1894. She helped establish trade schools for girls, was Chair of the National Union of Women Workers and founded the Women’s Labour League. She was a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society. Her memorial, which was the first portrait statue of a non-royal in London, is a sculptural group in bronze, mounted above a public seat made of ship’s teak, which is within an alcove created from Scottish granite, unveiled 19 December 1914. Listed Grade II.
Sculptor: Richard Reginald Goulden (1836-1932)
Location: North side, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2.