Is the Seacole statue jinxed?

To the Mayor and Councillors of Lambeth; and
Sir Hugh Taylor and Sir Ron Kerr, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust; and
Cecilia Amin, president, and Janet Davies FRCN, chief executive, Royal College of Nursing; and
Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt, PC, MP, Secretary of State for Health; and
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London
September 2015

Sept. 14, 2015

Is the Seacole Statue Jinxed?

We note the “delay” in unveiling a Mary Seacole statue in the garden of Nightingale’s hospital, St Thomas’, announced by Lord Soley, chair of the Seacole memorial campaign. The cause was a shortfall of nearly £200,000, the result of “soaring” construction costs. Yet the site has already been cleared and was even “blessed”!! before the fundraising was completed. We ask:

  • Who authorized the site clearing, an ongoing eyesore? We understand that planning permission lapses after three years, over last April. Work should not have gone ahead without the full funding in place.
  • Who pays for filling in and fixing up the site? Will NHS health care money be diverted for this purpose?
  • The missing evidence for the “Pioneer Nurse” appellation. We have yet to receive an answer to our questions as to when and at what hospitals Seacole ever nursed, let alone gave her “life’s work” to developing nursing in England.
  • What impact will a statue, or an empty site for one, have on the Bicentenary celebration of Nightingale’s birth, to take place in 2020? Should nurses be told not to come to London for Bicentenary events? Or to avoid Lambeth and St Thomas’?


We suggest that it is time to rethink the project. We do not at all object to celebrating Seacole’s life, as a businesswoman, volunteer and the author of a fine memoir-which never claimed “pioneer nursing”-but not as the founder of nursing.

We note the ties Seacole had with her late husband’s family in Lambeth, notably of Florence Seacole Kent, who married and lived there. Why not a site where Seacole had a real connection? instead of the hospital where Nightingale founded the first nurse training school in the world?

Yours sincerely