Plans for first statue of a black woman to be installed in St George’s Hall

Mary Seacole, c. Mary Seacole Trust

Plans for first statue of a black woman to be installed in city gem

Mary Seacole, c. Mary Seacole Trust

A campaign has been launched to install the first statue of a black woman in one of Liverpool’s most iconic buildings.

To mark International Women’s Day, St George’s Hall Charitable Trust has announced its intention to install a statue of Mary Seacole in the Great Hall – a woman believed to be Britain’s first nurse practitioner who devoted her time to nursing soldiers during the Crimean War.

The trustees believe this statue will not only pay tribute to the heroine, but it will also act as a ‘thank you’ to the NHS and the extraordinary scarifies they have made in keeping everyone safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mary Seacole was born Mary Jane Grant on 23 November 1805 in Kingston, Jamaica. Her mother was Jamaican and a doctress – a female doctor who can cure illnesses with local herbs and medicines – and her father was Scottish and an officer in the British Army. Mary also became a doctress and also set up hotels and shops throughout her life.

She travelled to England in 1821 when she was just 16-years-old and despite women traveling along being frowned on, Mary was very independent and ended up writing a book about all her solo travels called Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands. This became the first-ever autobiography published by a free black woman in the British empire.

The Crimean War broke out in October 1853 Mary offered her skills as a nurse but was not given a position due to the colour of her skin. She paid her own way to the Crimeawith her friend Thomas Day and they opened the British Hotel – a hotel and store – two miles from where the soldiers were stationed in Balaklava, Crimea.

As well as treating soldiers at her hotel, Mary would also visit the battlefront on her horse; taking sandwiches, drinks, bandages and medicines with her. She treated British, French and Sardinian soldiers – who were all allies – but she also tended to Russian soldiers, even though they were technically the enemy.

Despite being so well-loved, Mary was forgotten about in history after her death in 1881. It was only in 1980 that her story was rediscovered by historians.

A statue of Mary Seacole sits outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London and is believed to be the first in the UK to honour a black woman. 

A call out to artists is now open to apply to be considered to take on the role of creating a marble portrait statue that will take pride of place in the stunning Great Hall.  

The Mary Seacole statue will be the second female represented in St George’s Hall – the first was of pioneering health campaigner Kitty Wilkinson which was installed in 2012. There are currently 13 statues in total in the Great Hall.

Find all the information you need to apply HERE