'Agnes Elizabeth Jones', Pietro Tenerani

This monument is described in the last paragraph.

Accession number Loan736

Like Gibson, who greatly admired him, the Italian Pietro Tenerani was a pupil of Thorvaldsen. It was Gibson’s view that ‘the works which will consign his name to posterity are chiefly of a religious character’. This monument, one of many overseas commissions executed by Tenerani in his Roman studio, dates from the last year of his life and shows the pure neo-classical style still flourishing well into the second half of the 19th century.

Agnes Jones came to Liverpool at the age of 28 as the first qualified nurse in the country to be appointed to a workhouse, the Brownlow Hill Institute which stood on the site now occupied by the Roman Catholic cathedral. Hitherto, the care of the sick in such establishments had largely been left to their fellow inmates, but at the suggestion of the Liverpool philanthropist William Rathbone (1819-1902), whose initiative had already established the city as the birthplace of district nursing, it was decided to experiment at Brownlow Hill by employing trained nurses.

Agnes Jones took charge and brought immense improvements to the Institute, her achievements being described in these terms by Florence Nightingale: ‘In less than three years she had reduced one of the most disorderly hospital populations in the world to something like Christian discipline, such as the police themselves wondered at. She had led, so as to be of one mind and heart with her, some fifty nurses and probationers. She had converted a Vestry to the conviction as well as the humanity of nursing pauper sick by trained nurses, the first instance of its kind in England. She had disarmed all opposition, so that Roman Catholic and Unitarian, High Church and Low Church, all literally rose up and called her blessed.’

In 1868, at the age of 35, she died from typhus contracted through her work. Her achievements, however, were of lasting value, and the infirmaries of Victorian workhouses where humane, professional care of the sick was provided, pioneered by Agnes Jones in Liverpool and widely imitated, gradually developed into the free hospitals from which the modern National Health Service was created.

The monument represents the Angel of the Resurrection, seated and holding a trumpet, which accords with references to the Resurrection in the inscriptions on the base, composed by Florence Nightingale and the Bishop of Derry. The statue stood originally in the chapel of the Brownlow Hill Institute but was removed to the chapel of Walton Hospital when the Institute was demolished. In 1989 it was transferred to the Oratory.