Who is Lady Nancy Astor and why has she been immortalised as a statue?

100 years on since she was elected to the House of Commons, Lady Nancy Astor is being remembered with a bronze statue outside her family's former home in Plymouth.

Recognised as the first female MP to take a seat in the commons, what is the former politician best known for?

And how did the hostess turn into one of the most important MPs of the 20th century?

  • Who was Lady Astor?

Virginian-born Lady Nancy Astor was the first female MP to take a seat in parliament. Credit: PA

Lady Astor - born Nancy Witcher Langhorne - is considered the first female MP to take a seat in parliament.

The Virginian-born politician was elected as a Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton in 1919 receiving more votes than Labour and the Liberal candidates combined.

However she is not the first ever female MP to be elected.

Irish Republican and Sinn Fein candidate Constance Markievicz, was elected a year earlier but did not take her seat.

Lady Astor went on to serve as an MP for a quarter of a century, eventually standing down in 1945.

She died in 1964 aged 84.

  • How did she become an MP?

Lady Astor was well connected seen here with American car manufacturer Henry Ford, his wife, and her husband the Hon Waldorf Astor in 1928. Credit: PA

The socialite was well connected, marrying into the wealthy Astor family in 1897.

Her husband Waldorf Astor was the MP for Plymouth between 1910 to 1918 and then the Sutton division from 1918.

But it wasn't until he was forced to step-down in order to take over his father's peerage in the House of Lords that the she got involved in politics.

She stood in the 1919 by-election against Labour's William Thomas Gay and Liberal candidate Isaac Foot.

  • Who are the Astor family?

Lady Astor with her husband with Waldorf Astor. Credit: PA

The Astor's were a prominent family of the 19th and 20th century Lady Astor's father-in-law owning The Independent newspaper.

With her husband, Lady Astor entertained the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Sir Winston Churchill at their estate Cliveden.

Their grandson William Astor III, 4th Viscount Astor currently sits as a Conservative hereditary Lord Temporal in the House of Lords.

  • What did Lady Astor do?

Seven of the eight female MPs, Miss Jewson, Miss Susan Lawrence, Lady Astor, Mrs Wintringham, Mrs Hilton Philipson, Lady Terrington and Miss Margaret Bondfield in 1924. Credit: PA

As well as paving the way for the hundreds of female politicians, Lady Astor had real change in mind when she was elected.

The MP is known for her desire for "drastic drink reforms" which she addressed in her maiden speech.

She eventually introduced the Intoxicating Liquor - Sale to Persons Under Eighteen - Bill, which raised the legal age for buying alcohol.

In her maiden speech she also said: "I am simply trying to speak for hundreds of women and children throughout the country who cannot speak for themselves."

  • How was her election received?

Lady Astor claims Sir Winston Churchill tried to freeze her out while she was an MP. Credit: PA

Lady Astor wasn't liked by everyone and it's even reported that Sir Winston Churchill that they had "tried to freeze her out".

She is once said to have told the former Prime Minister: "If I were your wife I'd give you poison in your coffee," to which Mr Churchill replied: "If you were my wife, I'd drink it."

It wasn't long before another woman joined her in the House of Commons when Margaret Wintringham, MP for Louth was elected in 1921.

  • How is she remembered?

Lady Astor's seat may no longer exist - the constituency was abolished to make way for Plymouth Moor View and Plymouth Sutton and Devonport in 2010 - but her legacy lives on.

100 years since she was elected, a bronze statue has been unveiled at Plymouth Hoe outside Astor's former family home.

Former prime minister Theresa May unveiled the work of art sculpted by Hayley Gibbs.

Mrs May said: "I'm honored to be here today to unveil this magnificent statue to a brave and trailblazing woman."

She went on to praise the MP for "giving a voice" to the female population and inspiring her while she was prime minister.

Lady Astor's achievements have also been featured in a local exhibition at Plymouth Guildhall to celebrate the city's most powerful women from the last century.

Outside of the city, the Nancy Astor Express - a train which will travel from London's Paddington Station to Plymouth - has also been named after the politician to mark the occasion.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson remarked on her legacy, adding: "When Nancy Astor entered Parliament 100 years ago, she was a trailblazer, ripping up the conventions that held women back from joining the workplace."