Sister Dora's Cross

Contributed by Walsall Museum

Sister Dora's Cross. Copyright Walsall Museum

This simple cross is made of an early form of plastic. It was carried by nursing pioneer Dorothy Wyndlow Pattison, "Sister Dora", in Walsall. Sister Dora was an Anglican sister who arrived in the town in 1865 to work as a nurse at the cottage hospital. The hospital was overcrowded and understaffed, but her unfailing dedication ensured the death rate among victims of serious accidents in this industrial area was kept lower than that at London's teaching hospitals. Her cross is of interest not only in the field of medicine, but also faith. She prayed with Catholics and Protestants together, at a time when Catholics were despised by the local Protestant majority. Sister Dora was adored and respected by the people of Walsall. The whole town mourned her death and they erected a statue in her honour - the UK's first public statue of a woman not of royal blood.

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  • 2 comments
  • 1. At 11:45 on 4 May 2010, c2learn wrote:

    Thank you for posting this object. I was brought up in Walsall and the Sister Dora statue is a familiar landmark. My elderly mother, until recently a Walsall resident, says she believes Sister Dora was involved with a major mine rescue operation soon after her arrival in Walsall and that she was in the first cage to descend into the mine after the disaster. Is that correct? Mum also recalls an annual service of commemoration for Sister Dora in the town every January, with Mayor and magistrates attending.

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  • 2. At 21:19 on 31 May 2010, liani wrote:

    Sister Dora was an extremely remarkable woman and such a very positive icon in Walsall. Who from Walsall, hasn't met near to her statue....? When they'd arranged to meet on the 'hippo'?)For those who are interested, there is a very good biography of Dorothy Pattison (aka Sister Dora), written by Jo Manton in, I think the late 1970s. Around the same time, her book was televised too. But, I feel that producer nor director has yet managed to capture the true spirit and warmth of the locals, especially towards someone they very obviously loved. Try it, it's fabulous!

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