Mary Clarke Statue Appeal Report

Date of Meeting:

24th September 2020

Report of:

Executive Director, Economy, Environment and Culture

Contact Officer:


Branwen Lorigan


01273 29175



Ward(s) affected:








1.1         On 30th January 2020 a notice of motion was presented to Brighton & Hove City Council Meeting requesting an update on council involvement with the work of the Mary Clarke Statue Appeal. This followed an award of £10,000 in 2018 to the Appeal by the council to fund the making of a bronze maquette (or model) of a full-size statue of Mary Clarke, a suffragette active in Brighton in 1909/10.


1.2         This report details involvement from the council (Arts, Planning, Visit Brighton, Venues, City Transport, Royal Pavilion and Museums) in support of the Mary Clarke Statue Appeal. 


2.         RECOMMENDATIONS:    


2.1         the Committee notes the work of officers in Arts, Planning, Visit Brighton, Venues, City Transport and the Museums Service in the support of the Mary Clarke Statue Appeal.


2.2         the committee notes the fundraising work being undertaken by the Appeal to move forward with their plans.




3.1         The Mary Clarke Statue Appeal was set up in 2018 and gained charity status in 2019. The charitable objectives of the Mary Clarke Statue Appeal are to advance art and education for the benefit of the public by the provision of a sculpture of the suffragette Mary Clarke. The Appeal group sees the Mary Clarke statue as a symbol of democracy and women’s rights and as a means to raising awareness of the suffragettes’ role in furthering democracy and equal rights for women.  Board members of the charity are Andrew Winter, Briony Graham Goulden, Kathryn Henderson and Jean Calder (Chair).


3.2         Mary Clarke was born in 1861 in Salford, Manchester and she is the sister of Emmeline Pankhurst. Mary was a member of the Brighton branch of the Women’s Social & Political Union (WSPU). In 1909 Mary was appointed as an official paid WSPU organiser for Brighton.  It is documented on the Mary Clarke Statue Appeal website that Mary chaired a meeting at Hove Town Hall on 23 October 1909 and a meeting on 5 May 1910 at Brighton Dome. In 1909 Mary was responsible for organising a campaign to protest against the January 1910 General Election. Mary attended the ‘Black Friday’ protest on 18 November 1910 in London.   During this protest Mary was arrested for breaking a window and imprisoned in Holloway Prison for a month. Mary went on a hunger strike and was force fed.  Shortly after her release from prison she collapsed and died of a brain haemorrhage. In 2019 the site of the WSPU offices in Brighton were commemorated by a blue plaque.




3.3       The council’s award of a £10,000 grant enabled the Appeal to start the commissioning process that resulted in the commission of the artist Denise Dutton to make the maquette. This was an important catalyse for the promotion of the Mary Clarke Statue Appeal fund raising campaign that seeks to raise £100,000 for the eventual full-size statue.


3.4       In 2020 Visit Brighton and the arts team promoted the Appeal and fundraising

events associated with it, on their website and on Twitter.  Over the past year the group has also had discussions with council’s Head of Tourism and Venues about a potential suffragette trail centred on the statue and other locations and activities from this period.


3.5       The Royal Pavilion and Museums service has funded some blue plaques

highlighting activities and people related to the suffragette movement in the city. Head of Tourism and Venues and Visit Brighton staff have advised the Appeal on crowdfunding and what is required to run a successful campaign.   They continue to be available for further advice.


3.6       The council’s planning officer with responsibility for conservation has met, and exchanged correspondence with, a representative of the Appeal group to advise on the planning process for the potential installation of a statue. Royal Pavilion and Museums staff have met with the Appeal group and shared information about the Pavilion Gardens Conservation Management Plan and fundraising plans for this.


3.7       A representative of the Appeal group recently met with the council’s Head of       Engagement at the Royal Pavilion and Museums to discuss the profile of women

within the city’s museums, which includes clearer representation of the suffragettes, for example through the education work at Preston Manor, which focuses on the Edwardian period.  The Head of Engagement and the Appeal group will meet later in the year, when staff have reopened all museums and can work on refreshing exhibition material. 


3.8       The arts team have contacted City Transport colleagues on behalf of the Appeal group to discuss a variety of potential sites for the statue within Victoria Gardens and the Old Steine areas of the Valley Gardens redevelopment.



3.9       Since the idea of a statue to Mary Clarke was first suggested, there have been discussions on a suitable location for it.   The future location would be subject to a planning application and also consent would be required from the landowner.  The following options could be considered:


Entrance to Brighton Museum in Royal Pavilion Gardens. A memorial service was held for Mary Clarke in 1910 at the Royal Pavilion.  The Royal Pavilion Gardens are Grade 2 listed and on the ‘at risk’ list prepared by Historic England. The gardens are covered by criteria laid out in City Plan Part 2 (DM32, 2.245) which limits additions to the gardens.   A conservation management plan for the gardens was adopted by the Tourism, Development and Culture Committee on 17 January 2019 which in turn was used to successfully bid for National Lottery Heritage Funds in 2019.   This location is preferred by the Appeal group. 


Old Steine. This site is close to the Royal Pavilion and to The Dome.  Initial discussions have been had with Transport officers around the possible siting of the statue in phase 3 of the Valley Gardens redevelopment and this area has potential as a location close to the Pavilion and The Dome.


New Road. The Appeal group have had discussions with Planning who have indicated their preference for this location.  More discussion is needed with Highways officers to consider options along New Road.  The completed redevelopment of The Corn Exchange may present some opportunities.  


3.10    The arts team are planning to organise a visit of the site options with the Appeal               group and associated officers from Royal Pavilion & Museums, Planning and

City Transport in the Autumn.




4.1         The Appeal group have undertaken a number of fundraising activities since 2018 and they continue to raise funds for the statue.  With significant budget pressures as a result of Covid-19, it is not considered appropriate to award further monies from the Council to the Appeal.  Officer will continue to provide advice to the charity as funds are raised. 




5.1       The Appeal group will be invited to take part in the Public Art consultation events             in October 2020. These events will inform a Public Art Strategy for the city. The              forthcoming Public Art Strategy will set out how future artistic interventions in            public spaces will be decided.  This will include how communities can be fully               engaged in decision-making on what is represented in public spaces across the      city.


5.2       With the support of the council’s arts team, the Appeal are engaging with the        Royal Pavilion & Museums Head of Engagement to facilitate closer working on          the topics of Women Leaders and Innovators.  A post about Mary Clarke has been included in the Museums blog promoting Pioneering Women of Sussex.


5.3       The Appeal group have consulted widely on the principal of a statue in the city for

Mary Clarke, and this has widespread support, as can be seen on the group’s website.


6.         CONCLUSION


6.1         Council officers have provided advice to The Mary Clarke Appeal group over the course of 2019 and 2020, following the award of £10,000 from the Council in 2018.


6.2         The Appeal group continue to raise funds for statue through their website and using online platforms.  The wider importance of the suffrage movement and the women who played a major role in it during the early twentieth century will play a greater part in future exhibitions within the Royal Pavilion and Museums.




Financial Implications:


7.1      Following the Covid-19 pandemic, the financial position of the council has been severely impacted. Every effort is being made to control expenditure and the council has been forced to review how best to allocate its resources to meet the council priorities.  


7.2      As the paper does not propose any further grants or donations, the financial implications are restricted to the cost of officer time that is being committed in support of this project.


7.3     If this commitment can be met from within the establishment costs for the department, then there are not expected to be any additional budget requirements.


            Finance Officer Consulted:     Name: Jess Laing                        Date: 15/09/2020


Legal Implications:


7.4      There are no legal implications arising directly out of this report which is for noting.


            Lawyer Consulted:                   Alice Rowland                               Date: 14/9/20


            Equalities Implications:


7.5       An Equalities Impact Assessment has not been carried out or is planned. This is because the Mary Clarke Appeal is an external charitable organisation with its own policies and obligations.   If the statue was to be located on council land, an external report would be sought to confirm that the family of Mary Clarke had no known association with slavery, or the direct proceeds of this activity.





            Sustainability Implications:


7.6      There are no sustainability impacts or implications at this time. It is not yet known         what the statue will be made of, or how it will be moved to its permanent location.


Brexit Implications:


7.7       None identified


            Crime & Disorder Implications:


7.8       There are no crime and disorder implications.


            Risk and Opportunity Management Implications:


7.9       There are no risk and opportunity management implications


            Public Health Implications:


7.10    There are no public health implications.


            Corporate / Citywide Implications:


7.11    The equalities implications relate to the visibility of women in the historic social development of the city, with particular reference to the role of Mary Clarke and the suffragette movement during the early part of the twentieth century.












There are no appendices.


Background Documents


1.         Executive Summary of the Conservation Plan for the Royal Pavilion and Museum Gardens.  Adopted by the Tourism, Development and Culture Committee on 17th January 2019.