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Henry and Millicent Fawcett

In the chapel of St George in Westminster Abbey, near the west door, is a joint memorial to Henry Fawcett, politician, and his wife Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett.

Henry Fawcett

The bronze mural monument to Henry, by Sir Alfred Gilbert, was erected in 1887. The relief portrait and figures of Brotherhood, Zeal, Justice, Fortitude, Sympathy, Industry and another of Brotherhood were all executed by the process of casting known as "la céra perduta". This is thought to be the first complete work in England using this process. Most of the turquoise and garnets which adorned the memorial disappeared at the time of the 1902 coronation. The inscription, by Leslie Stephen, reads:

HENRY FAWCETT BORN 26 AUGUST 1833 DIED 6 NOVEMBER 1884. After losing his sight by an accident at the age of 24, he became PROFESSOR of POLITICAL ECONOMY in the UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, MEMBER OF FOUR PARLIAMENTS and from 1880 to 1884 H.M.POSTMASTER GENERAL. His inexorable fidelity to his convictions commanded the respect of Statesmen his chivalrous self devotion to the cause of the poor and helpless won the affections of his Countrymen and of his Indian fellow subjects. His heroic acceptance of the calamity of blindness has left a memorable example of the power of a brave man to transmute loss into gain and wrest victory from misfortune. THIS MONUMENT WAS ERECTED BY THE SUBSCRIBERS TO A NATIONAL MEMORIAL.

Dame Millicent Fawcett

The memorial to Millicent, consisting of bronze wreathed roundels on either side of Henry's, was added in 1932 and is by Sir Herbert Baker. Her inscription reads:

Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett 1847-1929. A wise constant and courageous Englishwoman. She won citizenship for Women.

The insignia within the roundels represent the National Union of Women's Suffrage and the Order of the British Empire. There are also small relief portraits of Henry and Millicent.

The Order of Service from the 1932 unveiling service (PDF, 4 MB)

Life and career

Henry was born in Salisbury, son of William Fawcett (d.1887) and Mary (Cooper). A shooting accident was the cause of his blindness. In Parliament he was known as the 'Member for India' as he concerned himself with the better administration of government there although he never visited the country. He married Millicent Garrett in 1867 (younger sister of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, to whom he first proposed).

Millicent was born on 11th June 1847, a daughter of Newson Garrett (d.1893) and Louisa (Dunnell). She became leader of the constitutional women's suffrage movement and an author. Their only child Philippa was born in 1868 and she became a mathematician. Henry was buried at Trumpington churchyard in Cambridge and Millicent died in London and was cremated at Golders Green.

New position for monument

The memorial was moved from its position on the south wall in 2013 (due to the new display for the Coronation Chair being erected in front of its former position). It has undergone conservation and cleaning by Diana Heath and was re-erected on the west side of the chapel in April 2014. It is now shown in a new English oak frame designed by the Abbey's Surveyor Ptolemy Dean and made by Brian Aylward.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

"Alfred Gilbert, sculptor and goldsmith" by Richard Dorment, 1986

A statue of Dame Millicent was unveiled in Parliament Square (the first there to a woman) on 24 April 2018.

Field

Philanthropist; statesman

Location

St George's Chapel

Material Type

Bronze

Henry and Millicent Fawcett
Henry and Millicent Fawcett memorials

© The Dean and Chapter of Westminster

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

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I feel very privileged to work here. I take so much pride in working for a beautiful place like the Abbey, it’s unique.

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Alex - Abbey Marshal

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