Honouring the legacy of Mary Wollstonecraft

Newington Green, Islington, where the world’s first memorial sculpture to Mary Wollstonecraft will be revealed on 10th November 2020 as a result of the campaign, Mary on the Green.

St Mary’s is thrilled to welcome the world’s first memorial sculpture to Mary Wollstonecraft on Newington Green, as it unveils its own plans to honour her human rights legacy.

We are delighted that on Tuesday 10th November 2020, Maggi Hambling’s A Sculpture For Mary Wollstencraft will be installed on Newington Green as a memorial to one of history’s most neglected icons.

Up here in Beverley, some 200 miles north of Islington, people supported Mary on the Green, the campaign to help create this important symbol of Mary Wollstonecraft’s legacy. This is not surprising as Mary Wollstonecraft spent her formative years in our town; indeed she is the most famous woman who ever lived in Beverley.

The plaque outside 2 Highgate in Beverley. Wollstonecraft lived in Beverley for six years in the 1770s, for most of the time at this Georgian house close to Beverley Minster. The text of her letters to her friend Jane Arden (illustrating her time here) survives in the New York Public Library.

As part of the restoration of St Mary’s we are also planning to honour Mary Wollstonecraft!

The next phase in the restoration of St Mary’s begins this month and is scheduled to run until October 2021. It focuses on the south nave clerestory. Label stops high up on this crumbling elevation of the church have eroded away completely and so the proposal is for stone carvings of an array of ‘Extraordinary Women’ to be made.

The south side of the church already features the chapel of St Catherine and a fine stained glass window honouring St Hilda, St Ethleburga and St Mary. And so it feels natural to be adding further remarkable women to this flank of the building, especially some with local connections.

If plans are approved by Historic England, the Church Buildings Council and the Chancellor of the Diocese of York, the new carvings will be designed by the sculptor Kibby Schaefer and made by stone carvers at Matthias Garn, Master Mason & Partner, out of Magneisan Limestone from the quarry in nearby Tadcaster.

The south side of St Mary’s Church, Beverley, where it is proposed that carvings of ‘Extraordinary Women’ will be installed in 2021

We feel proud to be playing our part in celebrating the legacy of Mary Wollstonecraft.

It is a joy to connect with people around the world in this way and we look forward to sharing news about the project in the months ahead, and to following the work of The Wollstonecraft Society, a legacy of the Mary on the Green campaign.

Virtue can only flourish among equals.