How many Blue Plaques from English Heritage have you seen in London? Off the beaten track, in North London, you’ll find plaques commemorating some really interesting people.
Finding Blue Plaques in London
If you look up during a walk anywhere in Central London, you will likely come across at least one Blue Plaque from the English Heritage. The Blue Plaques are a scheme that started in 1866 to commemorate important figures of the past by showcasing where they lived and worked.
You can either look at the English Heritage site or use their app to find Blue Plaques.
One snowy Friday I went on a meandering walk in the deepest North London in a little Blue Plaque treasure hunt. By going on this journey off the beaten track I discovered poet Stevie Smith, writers Mary and Charles Lamb, and soldier/World War I hero Charles Coward.
If you’d like to find out more about these public figures see the relevant websites below:
Stevie Smith https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/stevie-smith
Mary Lamb http://www.charleslambsociety.com/c&m2.html
Charles Lamb http://www.charleslambsociety.com/c&m.html
Charles Coward http://www.wollheim-memorial.de/en/charles_joseph_coward_19051976
I would say that the highlight of the walk was to discover the story of war hero Charles Coward: he helped prisoners escape Auschwitz during World War II. His house is unassuming, in a little side street not far from Edmonton Green station (overground).
Mary and Charles Lamb’s cottage, also in Edmonton, is delightful. Because it is a private dwelling you can only admire it from the gate. There’s a lovely front garden which I am sure looks beautiful in spring. The story of Mary and Charles Lamb is very dramatic. Mary suffered from manic depression and killed her mother in a moment of exasperation. Her brother Charles managed to get her to a mental hospital instead of being sent to prison. Mary went through different phases, alternating normal and manic moods. Mary and Charles were both writers and worked together to produce books aimed at children. It is really worth finding out more about these figures.
Stevie Smith was a poet and she was awarded with the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 1969. You’ll find her house in Winchmore Hill.
If you use the app to find your nearest Blue Plaques, you will see a map with pins highlighting where each plaque is. When you magnify a pin you get a short summary with the picture of the house, the name of the public figure, the years of birth and death and a short description of what they did. The app is free.
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