2023 Blue Plaques

‘Founding spirit’ of Notting Hill Carnival and 20th century’s foremost violinist are among the blue plaques of 2023.

  • Yehudi Menuhin and Claudia Jones join suffragettes Emily Wilding Davison and Princess Sophia Duleep Singh among those being commemorated by English Heritage this year 
  • Architectural historian William Whyte has been appointed as new chair of Blue Plaques Panel

In 2023 we celebrate the violinist and composer Yehudi Menuhin and Claudia Jones, dubbed ‘the founding spirit of Notting Hill Carnival’,  with blue plaques.
Menuhin’s plaque will commemorate the six-storey house in Belgravia where he lived for the last 16 years of his life, while Jones’s plaque marks the Vauxhall address that was home to her when she first realised the idea of bringing a Caribbean carnival to London.

The achievements of this year’s plaque recipients range across many fields, including the arts, music, social reform and activism. Other notable figures to be honoured include suffragettes Emily Wilding Davison and Princess Sophia Duleep. We will be announcing further recipients throughout the year.

Professor William Whyte, architectural historian and Professor of Social and Architectural History at St John’s College, Oxford, has been appointed as new chair of the Blue Plaques Panel. He will replace Professor Ronald Hutton, whose term as Chair has come to an end.

Professor William Whyte, English Heritage Trustee and new Chair of the Blue Plaques Panel, said: Every year, English Heritage’s blue plaques offer a glimpse of the very best of human achievement. In my first year as Chair of the panel, I am particularly excited to recognise so many who fought for what they believed in.

“From Emily Wilding Davison, who famously died for her cause, to Claudia Jones, whose life-long struggle for social justice helped inspire the Notting Hill Carnival, these are people who made a difference and it’s an honour to play a part in making sure that their contributions are remembered.”

In 2023 English Heritage blue plaques will be unveiled to, among others: *

Princess Sophia Duleep Singh (1876-1948): Daughter of the deposed Maharajah Duleep Singh (who already has a plaque in Holland Park) and goddaughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Sophia Duleep Singh was an active suffragette and made full use of her royal title to generate support for female enfranchisement. She was a dedicated member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) and the Women’s Tax Resistance League (WTRL). The plaque will mark the large house near Hampton Court Palace which was granted to Sophia and her sisters as a grace and favour apartment by Queen Victoria in 1896.

Claudia Jones (1915–1964): The plaque to journalist and anti-racism activist Claudia Jones will mark the shared dwelling in Vauxhall that was her home for nearly four years, making it her longest place of settled residence in London. It was during this time that Jones founded the West Indian Gazette and came up with the idea of bringing Caribbean carnival to London. The first carnival took place St Pancras Town Hall on 30 January 1959, and later evolved into an outdoor event, the Notting Hill Carnival.

Yehudi Menuhin (1916–1999): A onetime child prodigy, Yehudi Menuhin was probably the most famous violinist of the 20th century. He believed that music was for everyone and was dedicated to the education of young musicians, founding the International Menuhin Music Academy (1977) and the Yehudi Menuhin School for Music (1963). His plaque will mark the Belgravia house where he lived, worked and entertained for the last 16 years of his life. Much of his teaching and mentoring took place in his studio on the fourth floor, where he also practiced yoga – including his famous headstand.

Ada Salter (1866–1942): Ada Salter became Mayor of Bermondsey in 1922 – London’s first female mayor of a London borough and the first Labour woman to be elected as a mayor in Britain. She also served as a Bermondsey borough councillor and represented Bermondsey West on the London County Council. She had a profound and lasting impact on the hitherto deprived borough, which, by the end of the 1930s, boasted a public health service, palatial baths and wash-houses, and ambitious programmes to clear slums, build new housing and playgrounds, and plant thousands of trees. This revolution was largely due to Ada Salter, who never wavered in believing that beauty, health and welfare were inseparable. The plaque will mark the Southwark building where Ada lived in the late 1890s.

Marie Spartali Stillman (1844–1927): As a Pre-Raphaelite model, Marie Spartali Stillman featured in paintings by artists including Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones. While she became renowned for her classic beauty, she was equally admired as painter. Trained by the Pre-Raphaelite painter, Ford Madox Brown, Spartali Stillman was one of only a small number of professional women artists of the late nineteenth century. She will be commemorated in Clapham, at the house where she first began to realise her ambition of becoming an painter.

Emily Wilding Davison (1872–1913): Emily Wilding Davison is one of the best-known suffragettes. Her tireless campaigning for women’s suffrage led to repeated arrests and imprisonment, when she would have endured numerous bouts of solitary confinement and force-feeding. Davison’s actions at the Derby on 4 June 1913 – when an act of protest led to her death – continue to resonate over a century after her death. Her plaque will mark the Kensington house where she lived as she completed her schooling at Kensington High School and embarked on her course at Royal Holloway College, only to have her plans dashed by the severe financial hardship caused by her father’s sudden death.

*We are currently working with the property owners and all blue plaques are subject to full owner approval.

The English Heritage London Blue Plaques scheme celebrates the link between significant figures of the past and the buildings in which they lived and worked. The scheme runs on public suggestions, the main conditions of acceptance for which are that a subject should have been deceased for at least 20 years, and at that least one building in Greater London in which they lived or worked should survive with a substantially unaltered exterior.

All nominations received by English Heritage are measured against the same strict criteria:

• They should be of significant public standing in a London-wide, national or international context; and
• They should be understood to have made some important positive contribution to human welfare or happiness; and
• Their achievements should have made an exceptional impact in terms of public recognition; or
• There shall be strong grounds for believing that they are regarded as eminent and distinguished by a majority of members of their own profession or calling.
• They should have lived in London for a significant period, in time or importance, within their life and work,

The English Heritage London Blue Plaques scheme is generously supported by members of the public.

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