‘Seacole’ is a historical drama about the legendary Mary Seacole (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who defied discrimination to nurse British soldiers during the Crimean War and found herself at odds with Florence Nightingale, (Sylvia Hoeks).
The film is a biopic of Mary Seacole’s life following the death of her husband in Jamaica, (a merchant named Edwin Seacole) following which she made the decision to dedicate her life to care for the sick and wounded. In 1854, after the war began, Seacole travelled to London, England, where she applied to be a nurse to the Crimean Fund, the British Army and Florence Nightingale’s nursing team. Mary was rejected and rebuffed by all because she was a woman of colour so using her own funds she decided to undertake her mission directly to the battlefield in The Crimea.
At that time, her Caribbean wayward friend Thomas Day (played by Sam Worthington) arrived in London and they formed a partnership preparing for the journey, and finally setting off in by ship in January 1855 to The Crimea. Although the battles had been fought in 1854, they set about building The British Hotel (aka the Iron House/Mrs. Seacole’s), which was situated along the main supply road from the entry port for British supply ships, Balaclava, to the British camp at Sevastopol. Mary became a central heroine caring and nursing for wounded and sick soldiers; she was not allowed near the front lines, but she was a symbol of hope to wounded British soldiers who gave her the name, “Mother Seacole”.
Gugu Mbatha Raw, the brilliant UK actress who recently starred as Jennifer Hosten, Winner of Miss World 1970 in ‘Misbehaviour’, is poised for major stardom with this epic role. Gugu could not be a better ambassador for the story as she is currently involved with the UN and refugee work around the globe. Born in Oxford she is the daughter of a South African doctor and an English nurse. Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha-Raw was born on 21 April 1983 in Oxford; her first name is a contraction of igugu lethu, which means “our pride” in Zulu.
“Mary Seacole is the perfect example of the stories we aim to produce for a global audience. This historically true, socially impactful, humanitarian film is a positive example about a strong woman of colour persevering against all odds and is exactly what today’s theatre-going audiences are thirsting for. This film will help include and strengthen not only Mary Seacole’s but other untold stories, in addition to shining a light on the importance of nurses and healthcare workers around the world. Mary’s life story is not only unfathomable for the time she was living in, but also an instantaneous, universally relevant and an historically accurate portrait of a healthcare heroine who put her life on the line to save others during disaster.”
CEO, Racing Green Pictures
Bust of Mary Seacole, sculpted by Queen Victoria’s Nephew, Count Gleichen, sells for unexpected high price at auction
London, 30th July 2020: Racing Green Pictures CEO, Billy Peterson won the final hammer bid at a nail-biting auction of the Mary Seacole terracotta bust for an unexpectedly high sum of £101,000. The bust, part of the Collection of Jack Webb, was sold at Dominic Winter Auctioneers in Gloucestershire, UK who originally had a reserve price of between £700 and £1,000.
Billy Peterson said: “I am beyond excited that Racing Green Pictures has won the bid for this exquisite piece. We are mid-way shooting ‘Seacole’, a film about Mary’s life in the Crimean War, and will certainly feature this bust in the film. The remaining filming, set in the UK, will begin this Autumn, and when filming completes the bust will certainly spend some time on display in London.”
The 30cm-high terracotta half bust, shows Seacole wearing her war medals and a row of pearls; it was created by the Victorian sculptor, Count Gleichen, a nephew of Queen Victoria, as one of three busts. There are only two busts remaining, one of which is on display in Jamaica. The Mary Seacole Bust was sculpted by Count Victor Ferdinand Franz Gleichen (Prince Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg), nephew of Queen Victoria, who served in the Royal Navy. It was during his tenure as a lieutenant in the Crimean War that he met Mary Seacole and later urged Queen Victoria to help support an already bankrupt Seacole. Retiring from active service in 1866, he became a sculptor and was renowned for his works of King Alfred and Queen Victoria.
“We all think of Florence Nightingale, but Mary Seacole’s efforts are often forgotten. I think there is likely to be bidders from institutions, museums and private buyers who appreciate the significance of this bust.”
Count Victor Ferdinand Franz Gleichen
During the war, Count Gleichen was stuck down with cholera but Mary nursed him, and he credited her with saving his life; he was a frequent customer at her British Hotel. The hotel was purpose built by Mary and her friend Thomas Day to supply the soldiers on the front line with medicines, food, alcohol tea and “everything from an anchor to a needle.” Mary and the Count became close friends, continuing when they both returned to London. Count Gleichen retired from the Royal Navy and practiced sculpting. The bust was created at his studio in his apartment at St. James’s Palace; it was initially exhibited at the Summer Exhibition of the Royal Academy in 1872. He created three busts, one of which is on display at The National Collections of the Museum of History and Ethnography at the Institute of Jamaica which comprises of more than 15,000 pieces and includes artefacts that date back to the pre-Columbian era; the whereabouts of the other bust is currently unknown.