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Alice Drakoules, Humanitarian League

2012 March 15
Drakoules memorial

Birdbath memorial to Alice Drakoules in St John's Wood churchyard

This is a summary of my entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Alice Marie Drakoules (c.1850-1933), humanitarian and campaigner for animal welfare, was born near Brussels. In 1876 she married William Burrows Lewis and after his death, Platon Eustathios Drakoules former member of the Greek parliament and  a founder of the Greek Anti-Carnivore Society.

Alice was a lifelong humanitarian, vegetarian, and campaigner for animals. As Mrs Lewis in 1887 in Weybridge in Surrey she founded the Band of Mercy, the children’s group within the RSPCA. In 1891 her London home by Regent’s Park became a meeting place for representatives of intellectual and spiritual movements. She helped establish the Humanitarian League, founded by Henry Salt, to ‘prevent the perpetration of cruelty and wrong—to redress the suffering, as far as is possible, of all sentient life’. She was treasurer of the league, and a member of its executive committee for most of its existence. When former members of the Humanitarian League regrouped in the 1920s to organize the League for the Prohibition of Cruel Sports (which still exists as the League against Cruel Sports) she was one of its earliest supporters.Alice Drakoules was also a founder member of the executive council of the Animal Defence and Anti-Vivisection Society, initiated by Louise Lind af Hageby in 1906 to campaign against all forms of cruelty to animals, and remained a member until her death nearly thirty years later. She was particularly active in the society’s campaigns for humane slaughter and the establishment of municipal slaughterhouses, and for legislation to prohibit the use of performing animals. Her network included the leading animal rights’ activists of her day and the spiritualists Edward Maitland and Anna Kingsford. She subsequently joined the circle of Nina, duchess of Hamilton, and Louise Lind af Hageby with whom she campaigned for many years.

She died on 15 January 1933 at her London home. Four years after her death her friends erected an appropriate memorial to her in St John’s Wood churchyard, near where she had lived most of her life. As the inscription on it tells, she was ‘for forty years a devoted and generous worker in London for animal welfare’.The bird-bath memorial depicts a range of animals—fox, stag, squirrel, horse, bird, cat, dog, and heron—which appropriately characterise her concern for the broad spectrum of animals and her opposition to all forms of hunting and experimentation on animals.

See : Traces and representations: animal pasts in London’s present

in  The London Journal (vol 36: 1) March, 54-71 for more on animal memorials in London

2 Responses Post a comment
  1. Charles Abbott permalink
    December 25, 2014

    Thank you very much for this fascinating biography of Alice Drakoules. Only today I discovered her beautiful memorial birdbath and wanted to learn more about her. The graveyard is rather overgrown. As Alice died on 15th Jan, I feel I ought to go along and do a bit of weeding to mark the anniversary! Do you happen to know exactly where Alice lived? You mention that it was near the memorial. Perhaps there is a blue plaque?
    Sounds like there ought to be!

    • Hilda Kean permalink
      December 31, 2014

      Thanks Charles. I agree a blue plaque would be good but very difficult to obtain for animal campaigners, unfortunately. Alice lived (and died) at 14 Park Square East alongside Regent’s Park.Good luck with the weeding!

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