You may have noticed during your jaunts around the streets of London that there are little blue plaques affixed to random buildings, and you may have wondered what on earth these might be…well here’s a little explanation for you..
These little round, blue snippets of history – otherwise known as London’s Blue Plaque scheme, was founded in 1886 and is the oldest of its kind in the world. Its popularity here in London has meant that it’s since been imitated in many other countries. It is currently run by the English Heritage who took over the scheme in 1986 from the Greater London Council.
The blue plaque system aims to commemorate the link between famous names of the past – bringing together the human element with the historical environment. Showing where the great and the good have lived, worked and died enriches our knowledge of an area, but perhaps most importantly – it has saved many an historic building from demolition.
So whether you’re a tourist or a local – next time you’re out and about in London be sure to look out for these little gems and you might just raise an eyebrow at who might have lived in your favourite part of town!
Let’s start in Fitzrovia – Davis Brown Estate Agents has its office based here in the heart of the West End. We have been established since 1901 so we have great knowledge of our surroundings, as well as being part of its history.
Fitzrovia was named so by a journalist around 1940, deriving from the Fitzroy Tavern in Charlotte Street. It replaced “North Soho” and covers the area between Oxford Street and Euston Road. Fitzrovia is steeped in history, you’ll notice this by walking the streets close to Davis Brown Estate Agents in Margaret Street – just look up and you will see several blue plaques fixed to the buildings detailing who lived where, and when. No.15 Percy Street was home to Charles Laughton, an actor best known for his portrayal of Captain William Bligh in the film Mutiny on the Bounty. If you head to 29 Fitzroy Square you will find George Bernard Shaw commemorated, the playwright and polemicist lived here in the top two stories with his mother and later on with his wife. The next occupant lived here on a 5 year lease from 1907, she was a leader in the Bloomsbury Set of writers, artists and thinkers – Virginia Stephen, better known by her married name of Virginia Woolf.
Other famous names who resided in the area include the Prime Minister – Robert Gascoyne Cecil, Sir Charles Eastlake – the painter and first Director of the National Gallery, Francisco de Miranda, described as the “Precursor of Latin American Independence” and the list goes on!
If you want to know where they lived and find out more about the history of the area, then why not visit us at Davis Brown Estate Agents in W1, then take a look around Fitzrovia and find out for yourselves!
Stay tuned for the next week’s snippet of history!