We’ve come to the end of our Wednesday series on 10 (lesser known) memorials to women in London, so here’s the recap. We’ll kick off a new Wednesday series next week…
A bird bath and drinking fountain located in Victoria Embankment Gardens, this monument dedicated to Lady Henry Somerset – a key temperance campaigner – was unveiled in the late 19th century.
Lady (Isabella) Somerset (1851-1921) was president of the British Women’s Temperance Association from 1890 to 1903, president of World’s Women’s Christian Temperance Union between 1989 and 1906, and founder of a farm colony for inebriate women near Reigate in Surrey.
The monument isn’t actually a true memorial – Lady Somerset was still alive when the bronze, sculpted by GE Wade was unveiled on 29th May, 1897. It had been commissioned by the “Children of The Loyal Temperance Legion” to commemorate Lady Somerset’s “work done for the temperance cause”.
The monument – which depicts a young girl holding out a basin – was Grade II-listed in 1958.
The original statue, however, was stolen in 1971 after it was sawn off at the feet. The statue which now stands there is actually a replica – by Philomena Davidson Davis – installed in 1999.
As well as the dedication, the rough granite plinth upon which the statue stands bears the rather odd inscription (given Lady Somerset’s campaigning), “I was thirsty and ye gave me drink.”
We’re kicking off a new Wednesday series this week and in honour of the fact that a statue of Millicent Fawcett became the first commemorating a female to be erected in Parliament Square earlier this year, we’re looking at 10 other memorials – lesser known ones – to women in London.
First up, it’s a Grade II-listed monument in Tavistock Square Gardens commemorating Louisa Brandreth Aldrich-Blake (1865-1925), the first female surgeon in Britain and pioneer of new surgical methods treating cancers of the cervix and rectum. She was also dean of the London School Of Medicine For Women.
This double-sided monument, which sits above a curved seat, features two busts of Dame Aldrich-Blake, both holding a book. On the sides of the monument are the depictions of the Rod of Asclepius – an intertwined staff and serpent long used as a symbol for the medical profession.
The base and seat were designed by Edwin Lutyens – the man behind the Cenotaph – and the identical bronze busts were the work of Arthur George Walker.
The monument was apparently erected in 1926, a year after Dame Aldrich-Blake’s death, in a rather fitting location, Tavistock Square is the location of the headquarters of the British Medical Association in BMA House.
As well as listing her achievements in the world of medicine, the monument bears the rather uplifting inscription: “The path of the just is as the shining light”.