Women in Bloomsbury Squares -International Women’s Day 8 March

Walking through the squares on International Women’s Day, you’ll see the first signs of spring blossoming in the gardens, but also look out for the memorials celebrating women’s achievements or relating to women.

In Tavistock Square, there is a bust of Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), the modernist author and member of the literary and artistic Bloomsbury Group, who lived in various of the Bloomsbury Squares, and Dame Louisa Brandreth Aldrich-Blake (1865–1925), a pioneering woman physician and surgeon in nearby hospitals (and the British Medical Association is in Tavistock Square), whose bust looks both into and out of the square.

In Gordon Square, you’ll find the bust of  Noor Inayat Khan,believed to be the first of an Asian woman in Britain.  Living with her family in Taviton Street, just off Gordon Square, she was in training as a Special Operations Executive secret agent, known as Nora Baker, before being sent in 1943  into Nazi-occupied France as a radio operator. In France she was betrayed and finally was shot in September 1944 with three other female agents at Dachau. She was posthumously awarded the George Cross.

By Brunswick Square, a small lost mitten sculpture fixed on the railings is by the artist Tracy Emin, reflecting childhood and loss, and recalling all the tiny tokens left by unhappy mothers entrusting the children they could not care for to the former Foundling Hospital, but hoping they would recognise their child by their token if they were able to reclaim them in the future.

In Queen Square, there is a mother and child bust, purchased by the Friends of the Children of Great Ormond Street Hospital (just off the square) in memory of Andrew Meller. There is also a statue of Queen Charlotte, who is said to have looked after her husband George III when he was being treated for his illness in the square.

For these and other statues in the Bloomsbury squares, see Sculptures and Memorials

4 comments

  1. Judy lynch · · Reply

    I was brought up in Brunswick square. It was a private park in those days. Unfortunately all the Georgian houses have been knocked down now and the brutalist Brunswick centre has taken their place. Along with student accommodation for university of London. Our house stood 3 houses along on the west side as you come in from bernard st. I didnt appreciate it when I lived there as a teenager but now see how lucky I was to.live in such a historic area. So many well known people lived in Brunswick square including Virginia Woolf. And our house no 13 was occupied by the founder of the law society. I miss it came back regularly before lockdown.

    1. It’s interesting to hear from people who used to live in Brunswick Square -do you have any photos?

      1. judy lynch · ·

        I do have photos. Actually a book “Tales of Brunswick Square Bloomsbury.s untold Past” has my picture at the back and photos of my time in Brunswick Square.

  2. judy lynch · · Reply

    Yes Virginia Woolf lived at 38 Brunswick Square

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