When you visit London, there’s history around every corner. This fantastic city has been home to thousands of famous and notable individuals, from scientists and singers to doctors and designers.
To honour the incredible people whose contributions have helped London to become the cultural hub that it is, there are hundreds of blue plaques placed all over the city. If you’re planning a stay at the Grand Royale London Hyde Park Hotel, why not spend a day blue plaque hunting, to get an idea of some of the special individuals who have made London what it is today?
What Are Blue Plaques?
The famous blue plaques located all over London are a way to link the buildings of the present with some of the most notable inhabitants of the past. The scheme originally started back in 1866, and many other cities across the globe have created similar schemes – but London’s is thought to be the largest, and the oldest in the world.
There are more than 900 of these plaques all over the capital. The plaques are instantly recognisable, and are placed on buildings and other permanent monuments to help provide some context about the former inhabitants.
Going Blue Plaque Hunting
To get started on your blue plaque hunt, you’ll need some form of map. With almost 1,000 blue plaques to look for, there are plenty to find but for many of them, you’ll need to know exactly where to look, or you might miss them.
You can obtain maps from a multitude of different sources. English Heritage has published a guide to London’s many plaques, with illustrated area maps and plenty of information about the person behind each plaque. A contribution from the sale of the book also goes towards maintaining existing blue plaques, and adding new ones around the city.
Smartphone users can also download an official blue plaques app, which features dozens of guided walks around the capital. South Kensington, in particular has a fantastic looped walk which includes the plaques of Benjamin Britten, Sir Winston Churchill, Admiral Robert Fitzroy, Sir Alfred Hitchcock and Charles Booth. The Kensington plaques are also within walking distance of our hotel in Bayswater.
Other Tips For Blue Plaque Hunters
First of all, despite the name, not all blue plaques are actually blue. Some of them are a terracotta colour, which can be more difficult to spot if it blends in with the surrounding brick or stonework. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for these plaques!
Secondly, there are eighteen residences in London that have more than one plaque – so if you want to squeeze in as many blue plaques as possible on your hunt, it’s best to start with these homes. They include 20 Maresfield Gardens (Sigmund Freud and Anna Freud), and 29 Fitzroy Square (George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf).
Lastly, watch out for fakes! The image of the blue plaque has become so popular, that some ordinary civilians have their own created for novelty value. Make sure you look for English Heritage’s name and portcullis logo on each plaque, or you may be fooled.