PIN Mary Seacole`s House
Pioneering Nurse & Famous Black Victorian
Mary Seacole (1805-1881) lived here lived here in 1857 whilst writing her biography Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Mary Seacole in Many Lands. Mary was a Jamaican which in the myopically Victorian era meant that her mixed race presented her with many ‘glass ceilings’ and prejudices as she tried to help the wounded soldiers in the Crimean War. Although not technically `free`, being of mixed race, she and her family had few civil rights - they could not vote, hold public office or enter the professions
Seacole was an inveterate traveller, and before her marriage in 1846 visited other parts of the Caribbean, including Cuba, Haiti and the Bahamas, as well as Central America and Britain. On these trips she complemented her knowledge of traditional medicine with European medical ideas. In 1854, she travelled to England again, and approached the War Office, asking to be sent as an army nurse to the Crimea where there was known to be poor medical facilities for wounded soldiers. She was refused undoubtedly due to the colour of her skin. Undaunted Seacole funded her own trip to the Crimea where she established the British Hotel near Balaclava to provide `a mess-table and comfortable quarters for sick and convalescent officers`. She also visited the battlefield, sometimes under fire, to nurse the wounded, and became known as `Mother Seacole`. Her reputation rivalled that of Florence Nightingale.
After the war she returned to England destitute and in ill health. The press highlighted her plight and in July 1857 a benefit festival was organised to raise money for her, attracting thousands of people. Later that year, Seacole published her memoirs, `The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands`. If you like history get this on your TripTide trip planner
- , Westminster
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- , Downtown Westminster