A Progressive Society: Nineteenth Century St Marylebone
St Marylebone Parish Church has a rich history, tracing back over nine centuries, and it has been witness to great change in society. The nineteenth century was a particularly important period of social, political, and economic development in British history. The industrial revolution was well underway, and Britain experienced rapid globalisation, urbanisation, and population growth. This instigated countless new and exciting ideas in art and science.
This new lecture series will focus on six scientific, cultural, and political pioneers associated with nineteenth-century St Marylebone, exploring the significance of their work at the time and the relevance of their ideas today. These six talks will be led by an impressive array of academics and authors, and they will be held on Wednesday evenings throughout 2023.
Mary Seacole: Wednesday 1st March 2023
The second free talk in our lecture series will focus on Mary Seacole (1805-1881), as part of our celebration of International Women’s Day. Consistently voted amongst the ‘100 Great Black Britons’, Seacole was born at her mother’s hotel in Jamaica in 1805. She became a ‘doctress’, combining African herbal remedies and surgical techniques. Whilst the British authorities refused Seacole from helping during the Crimean War, following her move to London, Seacole independently set up the ‘British Hotel’ behind the Front lines to care for wounded servicemen. It is argued that Seacole was the first nurse practitioner. Her autobiography, ‘Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands’, written in 1857, is one of the earliest autobiographies of an Afro-Carribean woman. Seacole lived near the church in a house on the Portland Estate for part of her life.
This talk will be led by Jane Robinson. Jane was born in Edinburgh, brought up in North Yorkshire, and educated at Oxford. Since childhood she’s been an insatiable book-collector (necessarily so, after being banned from the local library at 7 for using a jam-tart bookmark) and worked with a London antiquarian bookseller before becoming a full-time writer. She specialises in social history through women’s eyes; her 12 books to date include ‘Bluestockings: The Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight for an Education’ and ‘Ladies Can’t Climb Ladders’, about the first women in the traditional professions. Her biography of Marylebone resident Barbara Bodichon, the Victorian artist and social reformer, is due out next year. She’s a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society; the Royal Geographical Society; a Hawthornden Fellow, and a Senior Associate of Somerville College, Oxford.