The enigmatic wood carving at the edge of a small wood in the tiny village of Otterden, Kent, holds a world of mystery in her inscrutable face.
This expressionistic figure of a pregnant woman is carved from a solid piece of oak—nearly nine feet tall—and is a striking surprise for hikers who stumble onto her. The sculpture stands alone just off a public footpath, surrounded by a shroud of secrecy, as no one knows for sure who the artist was, or how long she has been here.
The piece has come to be known as the Lady in the Woods, and some believe the sculptor was a local soldier, returning from the war in 1945 and discovering his wife had died. Others believe it was a World War II Polish solder who was stationed at nearby Otterden Place. Perhaps the carving, which has some elements of eastern European design, was a way for him to honor his wife back home.
But the most plausible explanation dates only to the 1970s, and a young carpentry student who found a fallen oak tree and decided to practice his craft on it. The location, an isolated spot in the countryside, gave him the quiet solitude he needed to hone his skills away from prying eyes.
Once the carving was complete, walkers following the footpaths that wind through Kite Hill Wood spotted the creation, and the rumors began to swirl. Although there have been a few brief mentions in local newspapers over the years, no one has ever stepped forward, or confirmed ownership of the lovely, sweetly mysterious, Lady in the Woods.
Know Before You Go
To visit the Lady you can follow a public footpath to the edge of the woods via three entrances to reach the coordinates (51.236866, 0.780799): one is off Waterditch Road, the second is off Riggshill Road, and the third is off Cold Harbour Road.