English Heritage Blue Plaques
The Blue Plaque scheme came about in the 1860s when William Ewart MP suggested it to the House of Commons. The idea was immediately popular and gained the support of the Society of Arts, which later became the Royal Society of Arts in 1866.
Blue Plaques pre-date the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and the National Trust so has played an important role in the history of conservation.
The earliest Blue Plaque which survives to this day commemorates Napoleon III on King Street, Westminster. It was erected in 1867.
Places and People
The concept of Blue Plaques has always been to celebrate and commemorate the link between people and buildings. Many important buildings have been preserved because of the work of the Blue Plaque scheme in raising awareness about the important historical figures who once lived in them.
Blue Plaques do not offer any kind of special protection to buildings. but they do point to their historical and cultural importance and can assist in their preservation.
Currently English Heritage aim to install up to 12 Blue Plaques each year. They ensure that each one is founded on detailed historical research.
But it is not just the work of English Heritage. In fact, anyone can propose a Blue Plaque provided they meet the conditions for acceptance. More about that here.
Supported by Donations
The long term future of the Blue Plaque scheme relies on the generosity of those who value it. With English Heritage having become a registered charity in 2015 this is even more important.
Thanks to a very generous donation from a single donor, the Blue Plaques scheme was re-opened for nominations in June 2014 - having been suspended for some time previously.
If you value the work of the Blue Plaque scheme you can make a donation here.
Wider Blue Plaque Adoption
Due to the success of the English Heriate Blue Plaque scheme, many Civic Societies, Councils, other organisations and individuals have chosen to follow a similar concept when looking to commemorate people and places which are perhaps not of national significance but local or personal importance instead.
Because of this, there are hundreds of Blue Plaques now in existance which commemorate locally important people, places and events. Keep an eye out for them in your local town or when you're visiting somewhere new - you're bound to learn something interesting!