Crimean war

The fuss over Mary Seacole’s statue has obscured the real person

Who would have thought that a statue of a West Indian-born nurse in south London has a role in today’s culture wars? Unveiled in 2016, it stands three metres tall outside the great teaching hospital, St Thomas’, and depicts Mary Seacole, an extraordinary Creole woman who was loved and renowned for giving succour to British troops, first in her native Jamaica and then in Crimea during the bloody and prolonged war with Russia of 1853-6. It is controversial on two main counts. First, it stands on hallowed ground at the hospital where Florence Nightingale pioneered nursing as a profession after returning from Crimea. Critics deemed it wrong to site a