To mark International Women’s Day today (March 8), here is our selection of five statues across the capital which honour London ladies…
1. Violette Szabo, Albert Embankment, SE1
During WWII, French-born Violette Szabo (above) quit her job in a Brixton department store to become a secret agent. She was parachuted into German-occupied France and led a Resistance network, before her capture and execution in June 1944. She was 23. Karen Newman’s bronze statue honours Szabo and the others who served in ‘Churchill’s Secret Army’.
2. Sarah Siddons, Paddington Green, W2
Léon-Joseph Chavalliaud’s marble statue of late-eighteenth-century actor Sarah Siddons stares moodily over Paddington Green from her grave in St Mary’s cemetery. During her life, Siddons earned a reputation as the queen of tragedy – she was the first woman to play Hamlet and she equally wowed audiences with her portrayal of Lady Macbeth.
3. Edith Cavell, St Martin’s Place, WC2
British nurse Edith Cavell was shot at dawn by a German firing squad in 1915 for helping Allied soldiers escape occupied Belgium. Amid the busy traffic in St Martin’s Place, George Frampton’s marble figure stands serenely in her uniform, in front of a huge granite cross that bears Cavell’s words: ‘Patriotism is not enough. I must have no bitterness or hatred for anyone.’
4. Margaret MacDonald, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2
Richard Goulden’s bronze of Margaret MacDonald pays tribute to her charitable work among London’s poor and her efforts to improve conditions for working women. She was the wife of Ramsay MacDonald, the first Labour prime minister, and they lived at No 3 Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
5. Emmeline Pankhurst, Millbank, SW1
AG Walker’s bronze of Emmeline Pankhurst stands at the entrance to Victoria Tower Gardens next to the Houses of Parliament. As leader of the Suffragettes, Pankhurst engaged in militant tactics to achieve her goal of votes for women, something only fully realised in 1928 – the year she died. Russell Parton