"Aren't we worthy?" part of Women and Power

In 2018, a century on from women achieving the vote, we explored the stories of women at Stowe. You helped to choose great British women to sit in a modern day Temple of British Worthies. The local community played an integral part in creating an exhibition - "Aren't we worthy?" Take a look at how the project began and its legacy.

How did the project begin?

A visitor posed a question about female roles within the Temple of British Worthies and asked "Are we not worthy?", which sparked debate amongst our team. In the year of Vote100, we've taken the opportunity to create a twenty-first century point of view on the Worthies.

Originally designed in 1735, it has 16 busts of notable characters that Lord Cobham believed deserved commemoration. When you look along the line of famous faces you'll spot one thing, 15 are male and one is a female, Elizabeth I. 

We created an installation in the garden, shaped by our visitors to Stowe, supporters online, colleagues and contemporaries alongside our local community to result in 16 new representations of British Worthies, 15 female and one male. 

The Results

We received 139 valid nominations across onsite forms and social media giving us a total of 65 different nominations that we shortlisted to 40 in 8 categories for voting before being voted on at the visitor centre at Stowe, on social media channels and in local towns of Banbury, Northampton and Milton Keynes.

We received over 20,000 votes in total.

The 16 new worthies were:

  • Beatrix Potter - Famous author and conservationist

  • Edith Cavell - War time hero

  • Julia Donaldson - Writer, playwright and performer

  • Queen Elizabeth II

  • Ivy Cakebread - Local charity volunteer

  • Marie Stopes - Scientist

  • Philippa Atkinson - Local charity volunteer for Bucks Vision

  • Reverend Gussie - from the local community 

  • Ada Lovelace - Mathematician

  • Kirstin McIntosh - Charity founder

  • Anne O'Brien - A member of the local Milton Keynes Embroiderers' Guild

  • Patricia Poole - an ambassador for MK Snap

  • J.K. Rowling - Philanthropist and author

  • Mary Singh - local professional supporting lives affected by domestic abuse with the charity Eve

  • Queen Victoria

  • Sir David Attenborough - Broadcaster and naturalist

    Each new worthy was represented at Stowe by artworks created by seven community organisations and a Stowe Volunteer Creative Team, with the support of two artists. These were on display in the gardens for nine weeks between 10 Sep - 9 Nov 2018.


What was on display?

Please see film at top of page for more information.

Working with the community

Meet the artists

To help guide the way in which each winner was represented, we enlisted the help of two talented local artists, giving encouragement and creative ideas to display the many achievments of the new Worthies. 

a lady with auburn curly hair with flowers sits on a chair in a room

Lizzy McBain

Lizzy is a local artist and has a background in the history of art, visual art and theatre. Lizzy facilitated ideas and creation workshops with the Stowe Creative Team volunteers.

Miranda La Mutanta supports MK Snap with their Aren't we worthy workshop

Miranda La Mutanta

Supporting community groups - Miranda is an artist and community arts facilitator with experience in teaching and practicing a wide range of traditional and digital art forms.

Women of Stowe

Throughout 2018, we've weaved stories of the women of Stowe throughout our programme of events. The garden was designed to demonstrate male power and influence on politics, but behind the facade lay influences of female vice and virtue, admired members of roaylty and muses. Look amongst the garden and there are females around every corner, in the temples and trails designed by Lord Cobham to enlighten his visitors. 


Lord Cobham's Pillar

Standing 115 feet tall, Lord Cobham's Pillar dominates the Stowe landscape from a 360 degree viewpoint, being seen from arrival and from many areas of the garden. On top sits a statue of Lord Cobham himself, surveying all his gardens to admire. With all this male bravado, you be surprised to learn it was commissioned by Lady Cobham as a birthday present to her dear husband. Sadly, he passed away during its build and never had a chance to see it completed, becoming a commemoration of his memory.

The golden statue of Venus glistens from the sunlight in The Rotunda, an open temple.

Girl power

We've made it easy for you to relate the stories women of Stowe with a trail to let little ones discover things in the gardens.

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A photographer's dream, it's easy to find an inspiring view when you visit Stowe. From monumental temples to nature's beauty, share your snaps with us on Instagram.