Dr Elsie Inglis Memorial

Dr Elsie Inglis (1864-1917), pioneering woman physician, surgeon and keen supporter of the movement for Votes for Women was almost fifty when war with Germany was declared in 1914, but she hurried to the War Office to offer her services. She was told, ‘My good lady, go home and sit still’. Undeterred, she founded the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Home and Foreign Service, setting up all-women units in France and Serbia. A passionate supporter of the Serbian cause, she was interned and then sent home when Serbia was invaded. She resolutely took a new hospital unit to Russia, but by then she was terminally ill. Forced to leave, she died on 26 November 1917, the day after she arrived back in Newcastle.

Her body lay in state in St Giles’, where sheElsie had been a member of the congregation, her coffin draped with the Union Jack and the Serbian flag. Her crowded funeral was attended by leading Serbian representatives and she was buried in the city’s Dean Cemetery. In 1920, her Scottish Women’s Hospitals organisation applied to erect a memorial to her in the Cathedral. It was designed by the architect Sir Frank Mears and the sculptor C. d’O. Pilkington Jackson, who carved it from a single block of rose-tinted stone, quarried in France and mounted on a slate base. Inspired by 12th century sculpture, it shows three tall angels bearing the symbols of Faith, Hope and Charity. It was unveiled in the Holy Cross Aisle in 1921, by the eminent woman physician, Dr (later Dame) Mary Scharlieb, who had known and admired Dr Inglis.