Mary Seacole: honoured at last.

Today, a memorial statue to Mary Seacole was unveiled in London. The result of a long campaign, those responsible for its completion should be very proud of themselves. You can find out more about the campaign at http://www.maryseacoleappeal.org.uk/home

Standing the grounds of St Thomas's Hospital in London, the statue honours Crimean War nurse, Mary Seacole. Born in Jamaica, she cared for wounded British soldiers at a field hospital which she set up in the Crimea at the same time as Florence Nightingale was working there. 

GETTY IMAGES

GETTY IMAGES

 

Created by Martin Jennings, the statue is inscribed with words written in 1857 by The Times' Crimean War correspondent, Sir William Howard Russell: "I trust that England will not forget one who nursed her sick, who sought out her wounded to aid and succour them, and who performed the last offices for some of her illustrious dead."

Born in Jamaica in 1805 to a Creole mother and Scottish father, Mary learned herbal remedies from her mother, knowledge which was invaluable for saving lives on Mary's travels as she grew older. 

When  war broke out in the Crimea in 1853, Mary travelled to London in the following year to offer her services to nurse soldiers alongside Florence Nightingale who had just left for Scutari. Although she had glowing references from senior medics in Jamaica and Panama, her offer of help was rejected five times. Refusing to allow this to stop her, Mary raised the funds for her passage to the Crimea where she set up the British Hotel in 1855, very close to the war zone. She provided soldiers with food and nursing care, often riding out to the front line with 'baskets of medicines of her own preparation' to treat the sick and wounded on both sides on the battle. As well as administering natural remedies, she acted as a surgeon, becoming well known to the soldiers, who called her 'Mother Seacole'.

There are a number of books about Mary Seacole aimed at KS1 children as many children study her life and work as part of the history curriculum. For older children, there is a story about her by Catherine Johnson in the wonderful 'History Girls' anthology edited by Mary Hoffman. This is a fantastic book, highlighting the life and times of a number of famous women from across the ages. 

Daughters of Time  edited by Mary Hoffman

Templar   ISBN: 978-1848771697