Florence the Woman

Sir Sidney (1810-1861) and Elizabeth (1822-1911) Herbert

Display No. 65

Nightingale first met married couple Sidney and Elizabeth Herbert whilst travelling in Italy in 1848. They became friends and the group even managed to obtain an audience with Pope Pius IX.

The Herbert’s would become important figures in her life. Elizabeth was one of the Governors of the Establishment for Gentlewomen During Illness where Nightingale gained her first professional nursing position.

Sir Sidney was the Secretary of State for War who commissioned Nightingale to lead the nursing efforts during the Crimean War.

(Mary) Elizabeth (née à Court Repington), Lady Herbert of Lea
by Richard James Lane, after James Rannie Swinton
lithograph, 1850 (1850)
NPG D22230
© National Portrait Gallery, London.

Sidney Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Lea. Stipple engraving by W. Holl after G. Richmond. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0

Exhibits from ‘Florence the Woman’

Discover the 200 Exhibits

Nightingale is respected worldwide for her pioneering role in developing the nursing profession, her statistical work, and her evidence-based approach to healthcare. In honour of her bicentenary the World Health Organisation have named 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife.

In our special exhibition, you will find out about objects, people and places which tell interesting stories about Florence’s life and legacy. You’ll discover artefacts from her life, people she both inspired and challenged, and places she helped to shape. There’s many more insights too!

Please click on the different sections of her famous coxcomb diagram to explore various aspects of her life and legacy. We hope you enjoy exploring!