Gentleman Jack star Suranne Jones and creator Sally Wainwright in Halifax for unveiling of tribute to Anne Lister

A sculpture honouring Halifax heroine Anne Lister was unveiled at The Piece Hall today by the star and creator of the hit drama based around her life, Gentleman Jack.

Sunday, 26th September 2021, 4:47 pm
Updated Sunday, 26th September 2021, 4:50 pm
Sally Wainwright (far left) and Suranne Jones were among those at the unveiling of the statue today.

Suranne Jones, who played the entrepreneur and landowner in the popular series, and Sally Wainwright, who created the show, joined sculptor Diane Lawrenson to reveal the statue this afternoon.

The installation, named ‘Contemplation’, has been made possible thanks to the work of The Piece Hall Trust and will be on permanent display at the iconic building.

In a ceremony watched by hundreds of invited guests and onlookers, the sculpture was unveiled from beneath a piece of cloth – as once traded at The Piece Hall - rounding off a special series of events to mark the 181st anniversary of Anne Lister's death.

Sally Wainwright and Suranne Jones with the statue before the unveiling

The famous Shibden Hall heiress, who lived from 1791 to 1840, was a remarkable woman and her fascinating diaries of over five million words detailed her life, loves, health, business interests and politics. She portrayed the network of relationships between women of the gentry and aristocracy in early 19th century Halifax and beyond.

“It felt right that we, as The Piece Hall Trust, helped enable this remarkable new piece of art, commemorating a woman who continues to have such an impact locally, nationally, and internationally," said Chief Executive of The Piece Hall Trust, Nicky Chance-Thompson.

"We wanted to bring Anne’s story to life, by bringing together other extraordinary women who have given their own special interpretation of her life – Diane Lawrenson and Sally Wainwright, together with Jill Liddington and Helena Whitbread.

"I’m proud that The Piece Hall will pay homage in this way for visitors from around the world to visit and experience. It has been wonderful to have these remarkable women involved to celebrate Anne Lister’s remarkable and brave life.”

Suranne Jones with the new Anne Lister statue at The Piece Hall

Gentleman Jack writer and Piece Hall Patron Sally Wainwright said: “Anne Lister is a huge inspiration. She is a source of inspiration to me and the fact that Gentleman Jack has resonated with audiences around the world has been very special for me.

"To be involved in the unveiling today is such a privilege and my thanks go out to Nicky, Sir Roger Marsh, and everyone at The Piece Hall Trust for enabling this; Diane for creating such a beautiful piece of art, and Suranne for helping me to tell Anne Lister’s remarkable story in such a sensitive and powerful way.

"It’s fantastic that we’re able to honour her legacy in such a beautiful and historical venue that would have been part of her day-to-day life here in Halifax.”

Suranne Jones added: “What an incredible day! Anne Lister’s story is one that I have been privileged to play a part in telling and the response to Gentlemen Jack from audiences around the world has been astonishing.

The new statue will live permanently at The Piece Hall

"It’s vitally important that we continue to tell the story of strong women throughout history, whether it’s through our television screens like Gentleman Jack or works like this that will encourage people to delve deeper into her life.

"Halifax and Calderdale have played an important role in my own life since the first series of Gentleman Jack aired on TV, and I’m delighted that this new installation has a permanent home in such a stunning venue.”

The Piece Hall – a focal point of trade and commerce in Halifax during Anne's lifetime which she often referred to in her diaries - was recently used as a filming location for scenes for the new series of Gentleman Jack, made by BBC/HBO.

Piece Hall visitors can now admire the sculpture, which sits on a stone plinth donated by Halifax-based stone merchants, Marshalls plc, along with other sculptures and art created by Diane Lawrenson now on view in The Piece Hall’s Gallery.

Piece Hall Chief Executive Nicky Chance-Thompson speaks at the unveiling of the new Anne Lister statue