Statue of Crimean War heroine Mary Seacole fetches £101k at auction

A bust of a heroine of the Crimean War who was voted the Greatest Black Briton has sold at auction for £101,000.

Mary Seacole, who rivalled Florence Nightingale for her feats in the war, was the daughter of a Scottish soldier and Jamaican mother and born in 1805.

She later went to England and when she heard of the plight of the soldiers in the Crimea she volunteered to help but was turned down.

Undeterred, Seacole funded her journey and remained in the Crimea until 1856.

When she returned to England destitute, commanders in the Crimea raised money for the nurse, who was awarded the British Crimean medal, the Turkish Medjidie and the French Legion of Honour.

She died in 1881 and was voted Greatest Black Briton in an online poll in 2004.

The 30cm-high terracotta half bust, in which Seacole wears her war medals and a row of pearls, was modelled by the Victorian artist Count Gleichen in 1871.

It was sold at Dominic Winter Auctioneers in South Cerney, Gloucestershire, where it had an original estimate of between £700 and £1,000.

Chris Albury, from the auction house, said: “Needless to say, we are in shock. We had thought it might go over £20,000 due to the intense interest but we are as flabbergasted as the vendor.

“The news of where it is going next and its eventual home is icing on the cake to a wonderful story.”

The winning bidder is Billy Peterson, of the film company Racing Green Pictures, which plans to make a film of Ms Seacole’s life.

After filming, it will be given to the Mary Seacole Trust and housed at the Florence Nightingale Museum.

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