‘Our Elizabeth’

A statue of Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy

In the centre of Congleton, half way along the pedestrianised Bridge Street, stands the diminutive figure of Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy, immortalised in bronze as ‘Our Elizabeth’ by renowned sculptor Hazel Reeves.

Baroness Lady Hale of Richmond unveiled the statue on 8th March, 2022 – International Women’s Day. Thousands of people from Congleton and beyond came to watch the unveiling and celebrate Elizabeth. You can learn about the statue unveiling here.

The statue was commissioned and funded by Elizabeth’s Group, a group of Congleton women who are promoting the life and work of Elizabeth and helping re-establish her name in local and national history.

The statue’s plaque, standing in the planter just behind her, describes the importance of Elizabeth’s life and thanks those who contributed to this artwork, which will stand to remind local people and visitors that this pioneer of women’s rights in the UK lived all her adult life in Congleton. The description of the statue is available in text and audio form here.

The statue is bronze, and over time will gradually turn green due to verdigris or copper oxide formation on the surface. This is a natural process and in fact protects the metal from further oxidisation. The Statue of Liberty in New York, a well-known green structure, was originally copper-brown bronze like Our Elizabeth.

Elizabeth’s Group decided to try to raise funds and create a statue in 2018, 100 years after the first women got the vote. Four years later our dream came true. We selected as our artist Hazel Reeves, who had recently run the Marsh Award for public sculpture for ‘Rise up, Women’ – her depiction of Emmeline Pankhurst in Manchester.

When she heard the story of Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy, Hazel was inspired to join the project and to create her statue in Congleton. Learn about Hazel’s creation of Our Elizabeth here.

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