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: public domain
Amelia Opie (1769-1853) was a novelist, poet, radical and philanthropist. She was associated with the Godwin Circle and was friends with William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Her political thought was influenced by the French Revolution. In 1798, she married the artist John Opie in London and continued to write. She is best known for her novel ‘Adeline Mowbray’ (1804). When John Opie died in 1807, she returned to her father’s house in Norwich and lived close by where the statue has been erected in Opie Street. This statue, which depicts her in Quaker dress, was carved in wood and then cast in artifical stone.
Sculptor: Z. Leon
Designer: J.P. Chaplin
Location: Above shop façade, 6 Opie Street, Norwich, Norfolk.
Photo: Lee Webster
Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1921) was the political activist, who organized the UK suffragette movement. She set up the Women’s Social and Political Union, campaigning for women’s suffrage and was imprisoned many times for militant behaviour. This bronze statue which is titled ‘Rise up Women’ was unveiled in 2018. It was the first statue of a woman in Manchester other than Queen Victoria.
Sculptor: Hazel Reeves MRSS SWA FRSA
Location: St. Peter's Square, Manchester.
Photo: Fin Fahey Wikimedia Commons
CC BY-SA 2.5
Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1921) was the political activist, who organized the UK suffragette movement. She set up the Women’s Social and Political Union, campaigning for women’s suffrage and was imprisoned many times for militant behaviour. Her statue in bronze stands on a Portland stone pedestal, the architectual setting also in Portland stone features bronze roundels, which commemorate her daughter Christabel (1880-1958) and which were added in 1959. The Emmeline Pankhurst memorial statue was unveiled on 6 March 1930. For full description and discussion see Philip Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, vol. 1, LUP 2011, pp. 382-84.
Sculptors: Arthur George Walker (1861-1939) and Peter Hills
Architect of plinth (Emmeline Pankhurst statue): Sir Herbert Baker (1862-1946)
Founder (Emmeline Pankhurst statue): A.B. Burton
Location: Close to the Abingdon Street Entrance to Victoria Tower Gardens, London SW1.
Sylvia Pankhurst (1882-1960), the daughter of Emmeline, was also a suffragette. She trained as an artist at the Manchester School of Art. In 1900 she won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art. She was a socialist and later a left Communist. Much of her later life was spent campaigning on behalf of Ethiopia, where she moved and died. This Corten steel statue in silhouette is one of a trio. 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.
Location: Near Haverfield Road , Mile End Park, London E3.
Photo: Derek Bennett (source: geograph.org.uk) Wikimedia Commons
Dorothy Wyndlow Pattison (1832-1878) , known as ‘Sister Dora’, was a compassionate Anglican nun and nurse with ideals of thrift and hard work. She arrived in Walsall in 1865 and developed a close tie with the local community. Her devotion to her patients became legendary. Always at hand in time of crisis, she nursed through a smallpox epidemic, horrific factory accidents and a pit disaster. She turned the local hospital into a national model of economic efficiency. When she died, thousands lined Bridge Street to pay their respects. She is renowned as the first woman, apart from members of the royal family, to be commemorated in a full-size statue. The original sculpture in Sicilian marble was unveiled in October 1886, but in 1956 money was raised by public subscription to replace the very weathered marble with a bronze cast, which stands on a polished Peterhead granite pedestal with bronze reliefs. A plaster cast of the statue, which formerly stood in the Council House foyer in Lichfield Street, was moved in 2010 and installed at Walsall Manor Hospital.
Sculptor: Francis John Williamson (1833-1920)
Location: The Bridge, Walsall, West Midlands.
Photo: Acabashi Wikimedia Commons
Anna Pavlova (1881-1931) was a celebrated Russian prima ballerina and the principal artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet. Her signature role was The Dying Swan, which she performed thousands of times. Her statue on top of the cupola of the Victoria Palace Theatre was commissioned by the owner Sir Alfred Butt (1878-1962), possibly to the design of architect Frank Matcham (1854-1920). Pavlova appeared on stage there, when the theatre first opened in 1911. The original statue was taken down during WWII and lost. The present gilded bronze figure is a replica based on photographs of the original. It was erected in June 2006.
Sculptor: Harry Franchetti
Location: Victoria Palace Theatre, Victoria Street, London SW1.
Photo: Jim Field Wikimedia Commons
Dolly Peel (1782-1857) was a South Shields fishwife and smuggler in the 1800s, who protected sailors from the press gangs. Her activities were discovered, but she was pardoned and given work nursing sick sailors. She became a local heroine and later published poetry. The statue was commissioned by her great-great-great grandson Reginald Peel and was based on a surviving photograph. Made of ciment fondu, the statue was unveiled in April 1987.
Sculptor: Billy Gofton (b.1945)
Location: River Drive near the junction with Palatine Street, facing the river Tyne, South Shields, Tyne and Wear.
Photo: © Copyright Albert Bridge CC BY-SA 2.0
Lady Mary Peters (b. 1945) was a pentathlete and shot putter, who represented Northern Ireland at every Commonwealth Games 1958-74, winning two gold medals for the pentathlon and a silver for the shot put. In 1972 she was awarded BBC Sports Personality of the Year, having won Britain’s only athletics gold medal at the Munich Olympics. Her bronze statue, erected at the athletics track which was created in her name, shows Peters giving her characteristic victory wave to the crowd. It was unveiled in June 2013.
Sculptor: John Sherlock (1933-2020)
Location: Mary Peters Track, Upper Malone Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Photo: Ross Wikimedia Commons
Isabelle ‘Ella’ Pirrie DCS (1857-1929) having trained with Florence Nightingale, in 1883 Pirrie became the first nurse in the Belfast Union Workhouse (now Belfast City Hospital), where she established a nursing school. She later became matron of the Deaconess Hospital in Edinburgh (1894-1914), a training school for nurses. The bronze statue shows her holding a letter from Florence Nightingale dated 1 October 1885, which reads ‘…You have already done great things. You must be the nucleus of hope for a goodly future of trained nursing staff at Belfast Infirmary …’. The statue was erected in 2007.
Sculptor: Ross Wilson (b.1958)
Location: Belfast City Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Photo: Matt Statter Wikimedia Commons
Princess Pocahontas (c.1596-1617) was a Native American, associated with the colonial settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. She married tobacco planter, Jon Rolfe. They visited England, where she became a celebrity, but died at Gravesend on the return journey. This bronze statue, cast from the original by William Ordways Partridge of 1922 in Jamestown, was presented to the British people by the Governor of Virginia and unveiled in 1958. It is listed Grade II.
Sculptor: William Ordways Partridge (1861-1930)
Location: St. George's Churchyard, Church Street, Gravesend, Kent.