Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site

Statue of Isabella Elder, Elder Park, GlasgowLB33304

Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
NS 54552 65587
254552, 665587


Figurative seated bronze statue of Isabella Elder wearing her academic gown by Archibald McFarlane Shannan, RSA, on a large granite plinth. Unveiled on Saturday 13 October 1906 by the Duchess of Montrose. Amid carved laurel branches on the front of the plinth are the words, "MRS JOHN ELDER, LL.D." and on the back in a similar style are the words "ERECTED BY PUBLIC SUBSCRIPTION 1906." Cast by J W Singer & Sons, Frome, Somerset. Granite cut and built to Shannan's drawings and patterns by D H and J Newall of Dalbeattie.

Statement of Special Interest

Described in The Bailie, as being 'a true woman, a wise benefactress of the public and of learning' Isabella Elder (1828-1905) was one of Scotland's greatest female philanthropists. She is renowned for her work to improve the lives of Govan's residents and for her interest in education, particularly in widening education opportunities for women. The sculpture itself is an extremely rare example of a historic monument commemorating a woman.

Isabella Elder bought the land for Elder Park in Govan 'as a public park principally for the use and enjoyment of the inhabitants of the Burgh of Govan in the way of healthful recreation by music and amusements and for no other uses or purposes whatever.' (The statue of Mrs. John Elder, Govan) It opened in 1885. The idea of a statue had been proposed by local dignitaries in 1902 before her death. A public subscription was set up and had exceeded its £2,000 target by 1903. McFarlane Shannan was chosen as the sculptor and Elder Park was the natural location for the statue as it was already the site of the statue of Mrs Elder's husband, John Elder (listed at category B; ref. LB33305). The flower garden was decided as the specific location for Mrs Elder's statue.

Mrs Elder was responsible for funding Elder Park Library (listed at category A; ref. LB33310) with the particular stipulation that to allow working people to access the library it should be open on Sundays as well as weekdays. She also funded the Elder Cottage Hospital (listed at category A; ref. LB33300). Her original idea was that it should be a maternity hospital with an entirely female staff, however, once it was completed she decided that it would be more useful to the community as the general hospital which it became (The statue of Mrs. John Elder, Govan).

Mrs Elder had a long standing interest in medicine and in 1883 bought North Park House in Glasgow for Queen Margaret College, the first college in Scotland to offer higher education to women.

She funded the College's medical school in 1890. When the College became part of the University of Glasgow in 1892 it was able to offer women the same degrees as men. Marion Gilchrist was the first woman in Scotland to graduate in medicine in 1894 (and also the first female graduate of the University of Glasgow) and Dr Gilchrist signed Mrs Elder's death certificate.

Amongst Mrs Elder's many other philanthropic deeds she gifted £5,000 to support the Chair of Civil Engineering and £12,500 to endow the John Elder Chair of Naval Architecture, both at the University of Glasgow. She was awarded the honorary degree of LLD in 1901. She also set up a School of Domestic Economy in Govan to teach young women how to manage a household on a limited budget.

Mrs Elder's wealth came from shipbuilding, an industry synonymous with 19th century Glasgow. In 1857 the then Isabella Ure married John Elder and by the time of his death in 1869 the shipbuilding company he owned, John Elder & Co, was internationally renowned. Mrs Elder ran what was then one of the largest shipbuilding companies in the world for some months following her husband's death before her brother became its senior partner.

Archibald McFarlane Shannan (1850-1915) was educated at the University of Glasgow and trained as an architect before becoming a sculptor. He specialised in marble portrait busts and bronze medallions as well as architectural sculpture. He was also responsible for the bronze statue of Lord Kelvin in Kelvingrove Park (listed at category B; ref. LB32881) which was unveiled in 1913.

'The statue of Mrs. John Elder, Govan' notes that many thousands assembled for the unveiling ceremony and that a mounted escort from the Govan Police Force was provided for the Duchess of Montrose's carriage. The author describes the statue as 'Mrs Elder sitting in meditative mood vested in her doctor's robes' and quotes from the Duchess of Montrose's speech, 'One can truly say that Mrs Elder spent her life in good works, as the aim of her life was to do all she could for the social and moral welfare of the people here. She resided in Glasgow but her heart was always in Govan.'

Statutory address and listed building record revised in 2018. Previously listed as 'Elder Park, Statue of Mrs John Elder'



Canmore Ref.:

Printed sources

Archibald, Craig. (1912) The statue of Mrs. John Elder. Glasgow: University of Glasgow Library.

McAlpine, Joan. (1997) The Lady of Claremont House – Isabella Elder Pioneer and Philanthropist. Glendaruel: Argyll Publising.

Online sources

University of Glasgow website [accessed 5/3/18]

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


General view of Statue of Isabella Elder, Elder Park, Glasgow.

Printed: 18/06/2024 10:20