It's taken more than 200 years. But there is now, at last, a monument to Mary Wollstonecraft, feminist pioneer and author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.
Marvellously, it's on Newington Green in north London, within yards of the Unitarian meeting house which she attended (that's the building in a pastel shade of cream - still in use as a Unitarian place of worship).
The design has caused something of a rumpus. It's the work of Maggi Hambling, a distinguished sculptor. And she was, it seems, given free rein.
So we have ended up with a monument which commemorates this remarkable woman which is, well, a touch formless, apart from the fairy at the top of the Christmas tree, a full-frontal naked woman.
This is not a representation of Wollstonecraft, Hambling insists, but an 'everywoman'. And by her representation, without any form of dress, she really is everywoman and not tied to a particular era or culture.
That argument has more force when you see the monument in place rather than in the close-ups of the naked figure that have featured in the press. But it still seems an opportunity lost. This could have been something wonderful - and to be blunt about it, it's not.
The monument has only been in place a few days - the immediate response seems to be a thumbs down.
So, how do you mark such a commanding figure? There are vanishingly few statues and public monuments to non-royal women. If you have a representation that is true to the woman and her times, you end up with billowing clothes which make her seem a period piece rather than a thinker and writer of abiding relevance and importance.
The most famous likeness of Mary Wollstonecraft is the portrait by Sir John Opie in the National Portrait Gallery, which says of the painting:
'Wollstonecraft is portrayed with the utmost simplicity. She wears a high-waisted white cotton gown while her plainly-styled hair is partially covered by a soft hat. She made her views on dress clear in her published work, stating that it should neither distort nor hide the human form but rather "adorn the person and not rival it". This reflected the French Revolutionary emphasis on man's natural rights and honesty; rejecting disguise and ostentation to reveal the 'real' person.'
A point of comparison is with the monument to the suffragist Millicent Fawcett. This is the work of Gillian Wearing and was unveiled in Parliament Square in 2018.
This is a more conventional representation but seeks to show her as an activist. The banner she displays has led critics (feminists among them) to suggest that it looks like she's portrayed putting out the washing.
There is no easy answer. And those behind the Mary on the Green campaign argue that the debate about the merits of Hambling's work have at least brought attention to Wollstonecraft and her legacy.
But I wonder whether this monument will have staying power - whether we will grow to love it or whether it will become something of an awkward embarrassment.
This Lockdown is an invitation to seek out new places to stroll and explore (in a compliant manner, of course). Today was my first visit to the Walthamstow Wetlands, more than 200 hectares of reservoirs on the outskirts of London - a nature reserve as well as one oft he capital's main sources of water.
The Wetlands only opened to the public three years ago. And they are wonderful
One of the most atmospheric sights was the cormorants (or are they shags?) roosting in a tree.
The site also has two wonderful old industrial buildings - the most striking, the Coppermill Tower, dates from the 1860s and is Grade 2 listed.
The Engine Room stands near the main entrance and is also a cafe, currently doing hot drinks and take-away sandwiches.
From the Wetlands you can see the new Spurs stadium in Tottenham nearby, and a little further away the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf
And as you can see, the weather was wonderful - a bright, crisp, late autumn day. A delight!
This is Holland House in Kensington - or what's left of it. It's the building at the heart of Holland Park, one of the most bewitching of London's inner city parks, complete with Japanese garden, up-market restaurant and peacocks.
Holland House is Jacobean - dating from 1605. But it was gutted during the Second World War by German fire bombs. Here you can see the before and after - the building as it was in 1896 and in 2014 (taken from Wikipedia).
One wing of the Jacobean structure survives - and what remains of the ground floor is now well kept and wonderfully renovated.
I got to Holland Park in the past week for the first time in many years - I'll make a point of getting there again before too long.
It's curious what you can sometimes find on a North London street. This is a plaster capital in Crouch End - from the 1880s, it seems. And the design. A monkey eating grapes? Or is this a lampoon of the biologist behind the theory of evolution?
It was Crouch Ender David Winskill who introduced me to this 'monkey' - but is it something more than simply a simian?
Charles Darwin was widely mocked and derided after the publication in 1871 of The Descent of Man - and quite often he was depicted as an ape by creationists and others reluctant to accept any affinity between ape and man.
Take a look at these examples (with many thanks to James Moore):
So that does at least make you wonder whether the decorative capital in question was some form of social or religious commentary.
Monkeys were not uncommon as gargoyles or grotesques in the design of churches and public buildings. They don't seem to have featured regularly in domestic architectural embellishments. These exterior decoratives were often bought by builders off-the-shelf - they weren't generally crafted individually. The usual features were flowers, leaves, fruit, perhaps birds or a stylised head or two - not monkeys.
The houses in question are one of five adjoining pairs of Victorian terrace-style semi-detached homes - none of the others has a design featuring a monkey or anything similar.
Thanks to the kindness and interest of one of the current owners, we know quite a lot about the initial construction of these houses.
They were built in about 1882. The builder was local, George Clark - according to the 1881 census, he was 34, lived very close by at 1 New Road and employed eight men (not the sort of detail you normally find in census records, which suggests that Clark was keen to have this point noted or it impressed itself on the enumerator).
Having built the properties, Clark leased them from what I take it was the land owner, Henry Thomas Marshall, a local butcher; and then Clark presumably sub-let the homes to tenants.
Here's who was living there at the time of the 1891 census:
In one house, George Bowyer, a lawyers' clerk lived with his wife and seven children; next door was a solicitor, William Calley, along with his wife and ten - yes, ten - children.
It confirms the picture of Crouch End as a white-collar suburb. It doesn't really help us to decide whether the likeness on these house fronts is of Darwin.
There are three options:
I'll be exploring this in my coming book Curious Crouch End, but do please let me know your thoughts - as emails, or comments on this blog or (and yes, it's just a bit of fun) by taking part in this online poll. We'll post the results here so do come back!
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