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Blue plaques in the City of London

The City of London Corporation is responsible for blue plaques throughout the Square Mile, the financial and commercial heart of Britain.

The history of blue plaques

The blue plaque scheme has been running for over 150 years and is one of the oldest of its kind in the world. The idea of erecting 'memorial tablets' in London was first proposed by William Ewart Henry Cole MP in the House of Commons in 1863 and it had an immediate impact on the public imagination.

Following this proposal, the scheme was established in 1867 by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), which erected plaques in a variety of shapes and colours. The standard form adopted for a blue plaque was a relatively late development, though certain guiding principles had been in place from the outset. The earliest plaques, erected in 1867, were blue.

In 1879, the RSA agreed that the City of London Corporation would be responsible for erecting its own plaques (to its own unique design) within the square-mile of the City of London to recognise the jurisdictional independence of the City. This demarcation has remained ever since.

City of London Commemorative Blue Plaques

The City of London only offers this process as a Commemorative Scheme and, unfortunately, cannot accept offers of any other variations which may include: pavement mounted plaques or brass, metal or polymer based plates.

As of April 2013, there are approximately 160 Commemorative Blue Plaques erected on buildings and land with the City of London. Plaque requests and/or applications in Greater London but outside of the City of London boundary are primarily the responsibility of English Heritage (020 7973 3000), although some London Boroughs also offer their own schemes.

Each plaque is basically a clay tablet, which is finished to a standardised design. This is then either surface mounted or recessed into the surrounding building material as required.

The Blue Plaque inter-active map has been removed for maintenance purposes.  It is hoped to have this completed as soon as possible but in the meantime we apologise for any inconvenience.

Applications

All applications undergo a thorough evaluation process, which is based upon the "The City of London Corporation Commemorative Plaques – Criteria for the Evaluation of Proposals" report adopted by the Trees, Gardens and City Open Spaces committee on 26th April 1996. Copies of the full version are available on request from the City Surveyor (0207 332 1527).

The City Corporation will, from time to time, consider the erection of ceramic plaques to commemorate significant people, places and events in the history of the City. However, it recognises that there may be occasions when this generally desirable method of commemoration and informing the public could result in unnecessary visual clutter.

Therefore, each proposal for a plaque will be treated on its individual merits and in relation to the overall street scene in the area where it is proposed to be erected.

The City Corporation requests proposers of plaques to note that many more suggestions for plaques are received than can be approved within the resources available. Although the plaque suggestions falling within the criteria will be considered, the City Corporation reserves the right to determine priorities among suggestions received.

When considering subjects for commemoration, the City Corporation shall consult such individuals, bodies, institutions and organisations as it considers appropriate, but reserves the right to make the ultimate decision, which shall be final.

The City Corporation welcomes participation by individuals, organisations and business in the financing of individual plaques, but such an arrangement shall not affect the City Corporation’s consideration for suitability for the subject matter.

Blue Plaque Donation

The City of London welcomes donations towards the costs of realising a Commemorative Blue Plaque.

Timescale

The timescale for successful completion of a City Corporation Commemorative Blue Plaque application is approximately 5 years. This compares favourably to the English Heritage scheme.

Unveiling Ceremonies

Once the blue plaque has been successfully installed, the applicant may wish to pursue an unveiling ceremony. The City of London does not become involved with the details of individual unveilings, this being left to the applicant to undertake.

However, a simple blue velvet unveiling curtain is available for the use of applicants in their unveiling. This curtain will need to be returned to the City of London upon completion of the ceremony.

Should you wish to propose a City of London Commemorative Blue Plaque, please complete the Application Form (200KB).

Alternatively, should you wish to discuss any aspect of the City of London's Commemorative Blue Plaque Scheme, please contact:

blue.plaques@cityoflondon.gov.uk
Or write to us at:

The City Surveyor
City of London Corporation
PO Box 270
Guildhall
London
EC2P 2EJ

Published:
21 April 2015
Last Modified:
22 August 2016

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