Blue Plaques St Albans
Since 2019 the Blue Plaques St Albans group has been working on a long-term scheme to commemorate famous citizens who have lived and worked in St Albans, by placing ‘blue plaques’ on buildings or sites associated with their lives. The initiative resembles the well-known blue plaque scheme run by English Heritage in London and is intended to celebrate St Albans’ heritage.
In 1898 the St Albans and Hertfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society (SAHAAS, or the ‘Arc & Arc’) agreed to promote a scheme to erect “monumental tablets” marking historic places in Hertfordshire, including plaques to commemorate historic buildings and famous people associated with St Albans. This started with an information board in Verulam Woods, which no longer exists, but between 1926 and 1937 SAHAAS added four more:
- George Tankerfield in Romeland (no longer exists)
- Queen Eleanor – on the Clock Tower
- Duke of Somerset – on Nos. 1-7 in Victoria Street
- Duke and Duchess of Marlborough – on Belmont Hill
Regrettably, the impetus (and the money) dried up, although one for Tessa Verney (inside Verulamium Museum) was partly funded by the Arc & Arc. A small number of individual plaques has also been placed by different organisations on a one-off basis.
The informal group of Blue Plaques St Albans (BPSA) was convened by Conservation 50 and supported by local organisations including SAHAAS and the Civic Society.
Plaques installed so far
- John Ball
- Nathaniel Cotton
- Elsie Toms
- Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough
- Percival Blow
- Edward Warner
- Stephen Hawking
- Frederick Sander
- ER Hughes
- Arthur Melbourne-Cooper
- Betty Entwistle
To find out more about these plaques, the people they commemorate click here
To view a map showing location of the current and proposed plaques click here
To see brief details of those installed so far and those due soon click here
Who can be commemorated on a Blue Plaque?
Individuals or organisations commemorated on a plaque should be of national or international stature, or of outstanding local importance.
They may have achieved national or international prominence in any field, including (but not limited to) academia, architecture, the armed services, the arts, commerce, education, engineering, industry, the law, literature, medicine, music, philanthropy, politics, religion and science. Or they may have made a major contribution to the development of St Albans or the well-being of its citizens.
The Panel will not approve plaques for fictional or legendary characters, or for people still living. We are aware that English Heritage blue plaques in London are awarded only after the recipient has been dead for twenty years. Clearly, their decision is based on the value of hindsight which is best assessed by distance from an event. We deliberated on this and concluded that we will not set a specific time limit but take a view based on an objective evaluation of the importance of the subject and allowing sufficient time for a period of calm to descend, unburdened by emotions. There is no limit on the amount of time a person, group or organisation should have spent at an address or in a particular locality. In general, though, the connection should be as long as possible (certainly running into months and years, rather than days or weeks).
How can I get a plaque put up?
- Any organisation or individual can suggest a person to be honoured with a plaque.
- The Blue Plaques Panel role is to approve plaque nominations and provide advice and support in erecting them.
- The Panel will require evidence that the individual being honoured had any connection with the building for which the plaque is proposed. You will also be asked to state your views as to why the person deserves a plaque.
- The design of Blue Plaques must be approved by the Blue Plaques Panel. They are made to a standard design, with a specific typeface, as it is important for our plaques to be readily identifiable.
- A plaque must not advertise any company, product, organisation, website or app.
- Plaques must be placed in accordance with local planning laws and other regulations, and only one plaque will normally be placed on any building.
- Before a plaque can be erected, the owners of the building in question have to give their written consent and any other relevant permissions need to be obtained. This may involve approaching more than one party: the owner of the freehold as well as the tenant.
- Once a plaque has been installed, it becomes part of the property to which it is fixed and is thus owned by the property owner.
- Groups or individuals proposing a plaque may offer to cover the cost of its manufacture and installation.
In 1866 a British politician, William Ewart, thought it was important to mark the homes and workplaces of famous people and so started the Blue Plaque scheme. Initially, it was administered by the Society of Arts and limited to London. Now it is run by English Heritage who, apart from a brief period at the turn of the millennium, have also confined their Blue Plaques to Greater London. However, recognising their popularity with the public, similar schemes, established by a variety of organisations, have appeared around the UK. Although many have retained the standard appearance, circular shaped plaques with blue backgrounds, there are now a wide range of commemorative plaques, in different shapes, materials and colours.
Blue Plaques St Albans is supported by the following organisations
- St Albans Civic Society
- St Albans & Hertfordshire Architectural & Archaeological Society
- Abbey Precincts Residents Association (APRA)
- St Albans City Tour Guides
- St Albans Cathedral
- St Albans Business Improvement District