Chances are that most of us will have seen one of English Heritage’s iconic blue plaques, placed on buildings and in public spaces to mark a link between that place and a famous person, event or as a historical marker. Founded in 1866, the capital of London alone houses over 900 plaques, placed to commemorate some of the great men and women who have lived or worked there.
There are far too many to list them all, and you may be familiar with some of the more famous entries, like Charles Dickens or Charlie Chaplin. But what about some of the lesser known plaques with a story to tell? If you want to find out more about some of the hidden gems in London, read on for some of the most interesting blue plaques the city has to offer.
The City of London has only one ‘blue’ plaque, and it isn’t even blue. Instead, they have a terracotta plaque commemorating Samuel Johnson, which was placed in 1876 by the Society of Arts. It sits in Gough Square, on the outskirts of the City of London financial district.
The oldest surviving blue plaque was installed in 1867 to commemorate Napoleon III, the last French Emperor. The plaque includes the French Imperial Eagle in its design, and also flouts the rule that an individual has to have been dead for 20 years before a plaque is erected – Louis Napoleon was still alive when his went up.
Luke Howard (1772-1864) holds the rather marvellous job title of ‘namer of clouds’ on his blue plaque in Tottenham High Road. The amateur meteorologist presented his paper ‘On the Modification of Clouds’ in 1803 – it set out the height and nature of clouds, and introduced the classification names we still use today.
Visitors can view where one of the most famous painters in the world lived from 1873-1875, on Hackton Road in Brixton. He arrived to work for international art dealer Goupil & Cie, and lived in a modest room where it’s said he fell in love with his landlady’s daughter.
You may not know his name but you’ll certainly recognise his work; Harry Beck created the London Underground Tube map in 1931. Initially considered too radical, his design was tested and was a resounding success with the public. His blue plaque commemorates the house where he was born, and uses a similar font to that used by the London Underground.
We can’t promise you a blue plaque of your very own, but if you need a plaque or shield to honour the achievements of family, friends or colleagues, get in touch with Silver Trophy. We offer an extensive range of plaques and shields, which can be engraved with the lettering and design of your choice. To find out more and view our full range, visit the website today.