2016 marks the 150th anniversary for London Blue Plaques scheme by English Heritage. Blue Plaques commemorate some of Britain’s most prolific historical figures of our heritage. Celebrating those who have shaped our society in more ways than we can count has become a timeless and enduring feature of the British townscape we know.
The official anniversary is to be celebrated 7-8 May, with a weekend of walking tours, memorabilia and a new Blue Plaques App. During the weekend of festivities, there are a number of new Blue Plaques that will be unveiled, with the likes of Samuel Beckett and Freddie Mercury being added to the star-studded list of former British residents who made a difference.
Not only have Blue Plaques added a historical significance to our cultural awareness, Blue Plaques have added prestige and value to the buildings they are adorned to. From the properties owned by Sir Winston Churchill, Karl Marx and T.S Eliot, the Blue Plaque effect seems to luring investors and buyers to snatch up properties with English Heritage status as it seems to be the case that the famous plaques are adding value to these London properties.
With house prices in the capital remaining sky high, it’s of no surprise that a single Blue Plaque is increasing property valuations. According to Rightmove, last years sales in Westminster involving terraced properties sold for an average of £3,030,414, while semi-detached properties fetched £5,293,828. Knightsbridge was the most expensive area within Westminster, with properties selling for an average of £3,384,497.
So what are the top 10 Blue Plaque properties in London? Take a look at our infographic!
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There are 900 Blue Plaques in London alone and to the right buyers, adding a touch of social and cultural history to the potential purchase of a property can go a long way. A simple blue disc can add thousands to a property’s value and it would be hard to find someone who wasn’t excited to hear that Sylvia Plath once lived in the house you were to purchase. Historian, Melanie Backe-Hansen has been assisting Chesterton Estate Agents in London to help clients sell their homes and through discovery has compiled a guide for owners as to how their properties have transformed over time and now house famous figures.
With the anniversary weekend looming, Professor Ronald Hutton, Chair of the English Heritage Blue Plaques Panel has commented: “Since 1866, these modest but distinctive blue roundels have reminded us of the people and places that made history.”
“This year we will celebrate stars of the silver screen and stage, a much loved comedian, sporting legends, and one of the greatest writers of modern times. It’s a roll-call that underlines the wide range of talent who over the centuries have made London their home.”
What criteria does English Heritage specify for future famous faces to be mounted on a blue plaque?
- The person must have been dead for 20 years or more
- The person must be considered eminent by a majority of members by their own profession. They should have made an outstanding contribution to human welfare or happiness
- They must have lived or worked in a building in London for a significant period of time and must be recognisable to the well-informed passer-by and therefore receive national recognition
They say, ‘location, location, location’ is pivotal when deciding where to purchase a property and with Blue Plaques adding an unrivalled amount of value to some of the oldest properties in the country, location of the plaque is also paramount.
- The plaque can only be erected on the building the person lived in; it cannot be the site where the building stood.
- Plaques cannot be placed on gate piers, boundary walls, education or ecclesiastic buildings or Inns or Court
- Buildings with plaques must be visible from the public walkway
- Only one plaque can commemorate a single person in London