There are eleven statues in the town of Bedford, and not one of them is of a woman. A vigorous local campaign has grown up to put that right.
The campaign group Women of Bedford wants to erect the first statue in the town to celebrate a woman - educational reformer, suffragist and politician Amy Walmsley.
To find out more about Amy Walmsley, take a look at this brief but brilliant video clip, Out and About with Marion.
I met the eponymous Marion some years ago at an event run by Huguenots of Spitalfields. Within half an hour of first meeting her in the middle of London, I discovered that our families had one of the Bedford Harpur Trust schools in common. Some would say that these long-established schools are the pride of the county, or at least of the town.
Squished in between doughty Cambridgeshire and metropolitan London, Bedfordshire has an impressive history and my all-girls school was keen to cram it into my head.
Nonetheless, I can only name two of the existing town statues: the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan, and prisoner reformer John Howard. I think there might be one or two others in the square John Howard looks out from, but their identities escaped my notice as a child.
If I hadn’t moved to London the minute I was old enough to escape, I’d now be inclined to do my lockdown walks as a detective tour of Bedford statues, to find out whereabouts they all are, and who they represent.
It’s a pleasure to see Marion giving a tour of well-known Bedford streets. In any case, those streets are often in my dreams, as I walk to school again and again, over and over, trying fruitlessly to rectify or redeem the past.
You can read more here about controversial, loved and unloved statues.