The Blue Plaques of London

The Blue Plaque Scheme

The Blue Plaque Scheme is a system which celebrates the diverse range of achievements and residents that have been a part of

There are almost 900 plaques proudly displayed on buildings around London, visible to the public, where famous people have lived and worked.

[O]riginally suggested by William Ewart MP in 1863, the Blue Plaque Scheme was founded in 1866 by the Royal Society of Arts, known only as the Society of Arts at that date. The scheme is thought to be the oldest of its kind in the world.

The Royal Society of Arts began by designing the plaques with a decorative border reading the Society of Arts. The London County Council administered the scheme from 1901 and kept the round border used by the Society of Arts, also adding a wreath decoration underneath the content of the plaques, which can be seen on the plaque dedicated to Charles Dickens.

From 1965, the Greater London Council handled the scheme and they developed the terms of acceptance for a plaque to include significant events at a building in addition to someone having lived or worked there. Following the abolition of the Greater London Council in 1986, the English Heritage began to manage the Blue Plaque Scheme and continues to do so to this present day.

The earliest blue plaque was for Lord Byron, placed in 1867 at his birthplace at Cavendish Square. Unfortunately, this building was demolished in 1889 and the plaque is no longer. The earliest surviving plaque was also installed in 1867 and can be seen in Westminster, commemorating Napoleon III.

Each plaque is hand crafted and they have been tested with a variety of materials, shapes and colours. Including: bronze, stone, lead; square, round, rectangle; brown, sage, terracotta and, of course, blue.

Today, you will find plaques being designed out of cast aluminium, round in shape with a dark blue background and white lettering. You can find the almost 900 plaques around London in all but three boroughs.

The Green Plaque Scheme
The Green Plaque Scheme was launched in 1991 and recognises people who have made lasting contributions to society, focusing mainly on buildings in Westminster.

To be eligible for a green plaque, the person must have been distinguished in their career, genuinely contributed to human welfare and sufficient time must have passed since their life to recognise their contribution to society.

You may have happened upon the Twiggy and Donovan statues in Mayfair London in the past, which is a tribute to the professional photographer Terence Donovan, who famously photographed Twiggy and has a green plaque on the studio where he worked, which is currently on the market through Wetherell, having being given a designer makeover.

The Effect of Plaques on Property
Although a plaque installed on a property does not offer that building any protection, the awareness of historical significance and interest in cultural icons has saved some building from demolition and in some cases led to preservation, even for fictional characters, like Sherlock Holmes. His famous address on Baker Street has been turned into a museum, with the plaque present on the outside of the building.

As the protection, the plaques do not necessarily increase value to a property. However, the interest in buyers, especially from outside of the UK has seen a huge increase in property values with a plaque installed, which has actually led to estate agents listing the plaque status as a feature of the building.

Buyers rushed at the chance to buy Margaret Thatcher’s property when it went on the market, just because of the blue plaque status. The property sold for £35million, even though it had sold for only £4.16million the previous year.

The Blue Plaque and Green Plaque Schemes are exclusive to London, but you may notice similar schemes around the UK. These are generally maintained by individual council bodies and each will have their own set of eligibility criteria and value to their plaques.

Anyone can propose a plaque to the blue or green scheme and all suggestions are considered if they meet the conditions for acceptance.


CabbieBlog-cabThis is a sponsored guest post for which CabbieBlog has received a fee. Proceeds from these articles help keep the wheels turning on this site offering free content for anybody with an interest in London. All links here conform with guidelines set out in Write a Post.

2 thoughts on “The Blue Plaques of London”

    1. Thanks I bet some of your drivers need information about London as they haven’t done The Knowledge


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