Statues and Monuments: Lady Isobella Somerset

Posted: October 7, 2015 in History, London, UK
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Isabella Somerset (nee somers) was born in London in 1851, the daughter of 3rd Earl Somers. She married Henry Somerset, son of the Duke of Beaufort but their marriage was not succesful and following a seperation, Isobella sued her husband for custody of their son. During the court case it became public knowledge that her husband was homosexual (at that time a criminal offence in the UK). As a result of the seperation; court case and the scandal she found herself ostracised from society and retired to her family home to concentrate on charity work.

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She was elected president of the Women’s Temperance movement in 1890. She also promoted other causes to do with women’s health and rights such as suffrage and birth control.. In 1895 she opened a ‘colony for women inebriates’ in Reigate as a rehabilitation centre for women alcoholics. In 1898 she became president of the World Women’s Christian Temperance Association, a post she held until 1906.

Lady Henry Somerset in 1884.[Hayman Seleg Mendelssohn - Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Lady Henry Somerset in 1884.[Hayman Seleg Mendelssohn – Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In 1913 she was voted ‘ the woman most people would like to see as the first woman prime minister of the UK’ by readers of the Evening Standard newspaper.

Isobella Somerset died following an illness in March 1921

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The statue in Victoria Gardens is not actually a memorial as it was erected in 1896, some 15 years before her death. The original statue was by George Wade. Unfortunately this was damaged in 1970 when vandals sawed through the legs. The statue seen today is a replacement copy of that original.

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