Victoria Embankment Gardens – Lady Henry Somerset

Tucked amongst the shrubs on the river side of the gardens, backed by a mossy wall, stands the bronze of Lady Henry Somerset (1851-19210) also known as Lady Henry Somerset’s Children’s fountain. She is remembered as a British philanthropist, temperance leader and campaigner for women’s rights.

Lady Henry Somerset
Lady Henry Somerset

Lady Isabella Caroline Somers-Cocks, being very religious had thought about becoming a nun but married Lord Henry Somerset in 1872. Unfortunately for her, he was homosexual but despite this being a cause of her marriage failing, she separated from her husband and sued him for custody of their son, thereby exposing his sexual orientation to the public. She won the case but was publicly ostracised and she was thence known as Lady Isabella Somerset. Because of her religious beliefs they never divorced and she occupied herself with charitable work. following the suicide of a close friend through intoxication, she became interested in the temperance movement, eventually becoming the elected president of the British Women’s Temperance Association in 1890.

Plaque below statue in honour of Lady Henry Somerset
Lady Henry Somerset

Travelling around Britain and America and filling halls everywhere, she became an important social reformer, promoting women’s issues before feminism became a popular movement in its own right. Rather than campaigning for total abolition, Lady Henry wanted the restriction of opening hours. She Set up homes to help young girls train for domestic service.

The statue itself is by George Edward Wade who also sculpted the statues of William and Catherine Booth, the Salvationists. He died, aged 80 in 1933.


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