"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.
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
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?
When visitors arrived at the New Inn, they could go into the historic Parlour Rooms to discover more about the Temple of British Worthies and plan their route to see the exhibition in the gardens.
We revealed how local groups from the community got involved to create the exhibition and their special connection to Stowe in a short introductory film.
The new Worthies
At the Temple of Venus visitors could see the 16 new Worthies all represented individually throughout the colonnade walkways.
The stories of Stowe's women
Inside the temple, visitors could discover stories of the women that are represented in the historical landscape at Stowe.
A free of charge booklet was available to accompany the exhibition on arrival and at the Temple of Venus. This provided information on the new Worthies, the people that created each representation and the guiding artists.
Where it all began
We encouraged visitors to walk up to the Elysian Fields to see the original set of individuals selected as British Worthies and wander behind the temple to find Signor Fido's dedication.
Please see film at top of page for more information.
Working with the community
This organisation supports blind and partially sighted people living in Bucks and Milton Keynes. The COBB craft social group runs regularly at Stowe.
As one of our guardianship partners based in Akeley and Chackmore, students visit Stowe for outdoors learning.
Eve has been running a Family Refuge in Northampton for over 35 years. They help women and children who are victims of domestic abuse to rebuild their lives.
Milton Keynes based charity MK Snap support individuals with learning disabilities through training, education, life skills, work and other opportunities.
Based in Stowe House on the estate alongside the National Trust gardens and parkland, Stowe School was instrumental in saving the site from ruin in the 1922 sale.
This stitch group for students aged 5 to 14 years meet once a month for needlework activities. They are part of the Milton Keynes Embroiderers’ Guild.
Based in Little Horwood, this children's environmental charity aims to explore the wonders of nature. They provide free education, recreation and conservation activities for local Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire communities.
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.
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
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.
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Through the lens
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.