Mary Seacole

This Jamaica-born mixed-race nurse ran a front-line hospital/store during the Crimean War in 1855, Florence Nightingale having refused her help despite Seacole’s experience of tropical disease. This design by Martin Jennings has been chosen for a site at
St Thomas’ Hospital.


Apart from royalty, and naked models, you will not find many women among London’s statues but that must mean any who appear must have been remarkable people. These are all I can find. Oddly, Nightingale, Blake and Pankhurst are all by the same sculptor: AG Walker.

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Women 1 2

Virginia Woolf

Woolf (1882-1941) was a member of the racy Bloomsbury Group of writers and artists who lived in this area of London. Considered one of the leading writers of her generation, she suffered from severe depression and drowned herself after filling her pockets with stones.

Tavistock Square WC2
Tube: Russell Square

Sarah Siddons

The actress Sarah Siddons (1755–1831), herself an amateur sculptor, is immortalised as the tragic muse after a painting by Reynolds. Famous for the role of Lady Macbeth, she was also the first woman to play Hamlet. Often painted, there is also a statue of her in Westminster Abbey.

Paddington Green W2
Tube: Edgware Road/Paddington

Anna Pavlova

A statue of Pavlova was put here in 1911 by the theatre’s owner, Alfred Butt, who had arranged her London debut. The superstitious star, who moved to London in 1912, always refused to look at it. The original was taken down during World War II for safekeeping but was lost. This replica dates to 2006.

Victoria Palace Theatre SW1
Tube: Victoria

Violette Szabo GC

The Special Operations Executive (SOE) carried out sabotage in Occupied Europe during World War II. Karen Newman sculpted this SOE memorial bust of Szabo, a former Brixton shop worker, captured on a mission in France, tortured and executed at Ravensbruck concentration camp aged 23.

Albert Embankment SE1
Tube: Westminster

Jemina Durning Smith

Not a statue but I can’t resist mentioning this wall plaque in Lambeth to mark the opening of the Durning LIbrary in 1888. Giving poor people access to books was a radical act in Victorian times, so imagine the problems Smith, a disabled woman, had in founding two libraries.

167 Kennington Lane SE1
Tube: Kennington