London’s blue plaque scheme has been in operation for about 150 years and there are nearly 900 plaques on buildings and houses across London. The blue plaques show where famous people lived and worked as well as commemorating historical events (eg: the founding of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood) and sites. The scheme has been run by English Heritage since 1986.
You’ll find most of the plaques in and around Central London because the scheme was not extended to the outer boroughs until 1965. You’ll also find similar English Heritage plaques in some other UK cities, but the majority are in London.
The first-ever blue plaque commemorated the birthplace of Lord Byron in Holles Street near Cavendish Square and was erected in 1867, however the building (and its plaque) were demolished in 1989. Today’s oldest surviving blue plaque is also from 1867 and shows where Napoleon III lived in King Street, St James’s.
Some of London’s other notable blue plaques include:
- John Lennon – musician and member of The Beatles – 34 Montagu Square, Marleybone W1H
- Florence Nightingale – social reformer and founder of modern nursing – 10 South Street, Mayfair, W1K (London also has a Florence Nightingale Museum)
- Charles Dickens – author – 48 Doughty Street, Holborn, WC1N (now the Dickens Museum)
- Jimi Hendrix – musician – 23 Brook Street, Mayfair, W1K
- Oscar Wilde – author and playwright – 34 Tite Street, Chelsea, SW3
- Karl Marx – founder of Communism – 28 Dean Street Street, Soho, W1D (you can also see Marx’s grave in Highgate Cemetery)
- Winston Churchill – British Prime Minister during WW2 – 28 Hyde Park Gate Kensington, SW7 (you can also visit the Churchill War Rooms)
- Captain James Cook – naval explorer who circumnavigated the globe – 88 Mile End Road, Tower Hamlets, E1
- Alfred Hitchcock –film director – 153 Cromwell Road, Chelsea, SW5
- Sylvia Plath – poet – 3 Chalcot Square Primrose Hill, NW1
Read more about the Blue Plaques scheme
For a quick glance through a full list of the plaques, try Wikipedia
Do you have a favourite Blue Plaque or Blue Plaque moment in London? Tell us about it in the comments below.