Outside her family home in Plymouth Hoe stands a statue of Lady Nancy Astor, the first woman to serve in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.
Lady Nancy Astor (1879-1964) was born in Danville, Virginia, US. In 1905, following a divorce, she moved to England, where she met and married Waldorf Astor, a wealthy politician. In 1910, her husband became the Conservative MP (Member of Parliament) for Plymouth Sutton. In 1919, her husband had to forfeit his seat in the House of Commons after he inherited his father’s title of Viscount Astor and his place in the House of Lords. Astor decided to take her husband’s vacant seat, and on 28 November 1919, she won the election to represent Plymouth Sutton in Parliament.
Though she was not the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons, she was the first to take her seat and serve as MP. During her 26 years tenure, Astor fought for women’s rights and education and introduced the Bill that raised the age qualification for buying alcohol to 18.
The life-size bronze statue captures Astor’s spirit, dressed in her original clothes, hat, and jewelry that were contributed to the process by her family and members of the archival team at Reading university. Astor’s quote inscribed on the statue’s plinth reads: “Real education should educate us out of self into something far finer; into a selflessness which links us with all humanity.”
More than £140,000 was crowdfunded in 400 days by the Nancy Astor Statue Appeal led by Alexis Bowater, Chair of the Lady Astor 100 Campaign.
The British artist Hayley Gibbs created the statue, and Former prime minister Theresa May unveiled it on 28 November 2019, 100 years after Astor was elected to represent Plymouth Sutton in Parliament.
Astor is also commemorated by the Nancy Astor Express train that travels from London Paddington to Plymouth. Other interesting sites to visit in Plymouth are the Smeaton’s Tower, the 17th-century Royal Citadel, the Mayflower Museum, the Mayflower Steps Memorial, and the Armada Memorial.
100 years of Nancy Astor
Nancy Astor was the first woman MP to take her seat in Parliament. She represented Plymouth Sutton, which is part of the patch Luke is running to represent now. Today, a statue was unveiled on Plymouth Hoe to commemorate her.
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100 years of Nancy AstorNancy Astor was the first woman MP to take her seat in Parliament. She represented Plymouth Sutton, which is part of the patch Luke is running to represent now. Today, a statue was unveiled on Plymouth Hoe to commemorate her.
This post is also available in: Español