The Green and Blue Plaques of Covent Garden
Behind every plaque is a story…
London’s Blue Plaque scheme is run by English Heritage. There are around 900 plaques on buildings across London which are in place to honour the notable men and women who have worked or live in these buildings. In Covent Garden, you will find many Plaques that tell extraordinary stories from the past 200 years. The Green Plaques Scheme was created by Westminster City Council to commemorate famous people who lived here that are not covered by the Blue Plaque Scheme. The Blue and Green Plaque Scheme have different purposes. The Blue Plaques demarcate buildings where a notable person lived, while the Green Plaques’ aim is to mark places of general interests.
Here is your need to know information on the plaques in the Covent Garden area
Thomas Arne Blue Plaque
Thomas Augustine Arne (1710-1778) was a British composer. He wrote patriotic songs such as ‘Rule, Britannia!’ and a version of ‘God Save the King’. He worked on Drury Lane, Covent Garden and was the leading British theatre composer. This Plaque is located on the 31 King Street building, where Thomas used to live, between the Claudie Pierlot and Jo Malone London stores.
Charles Dickens Blue Plaque
Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created the world’s most famous fictional characters and has been recognised as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period. He actually has two Blue Plaques in Covent Garden. The first one is at Charles’ offices where he used to publish his periodical ‘All The Year Round’. The Plaque can be seen when you turn the corner from Tavistock Street into Wellington Street. The second Blue Plaque, where Dickens worked as a kid, is located at the corner of Chandos Place and Bedford Street, right above the T.G.I Friday’s restaurant.
Dame Margot Fonteyn
Dame Margot Fonteyn (1919-1991) was a legendary ballerina who made the ballet fashionable and accessible. She was a dancer with the ’Royal Ballet’ and was described as one of the most elegant, gracious and greatest performer of her time.
Fonteyn was living round the corner in Flat 9, 118 Long Acre in Covent Garden, where a Blue Plaque in her name is located.
The house, occupied by Thomas Davies, where Dr.Samuel Johnson first met James Boswell in 1763
Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784), referred to as Dr. Johnson, contributed to English literature and was a poet, essayist, moralist, literacy critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. James Boswell (1740-1795) was a Scottish biographer and diarist who was born in Edinburgh.
The Blue Plaque is located above Balthazar Boulangerie at 8 Russell Street, which marks the spot where these two men first met. The building was occupied by Thomas Davies (a bookseller) at that time. In 1791, James Boswell wrote the ‘Life of Samuel Johnson’.
Thomas de Quincy
Thomas de Quincy (1785-1859) was an English essayist who is well-known for his ‘Confessions of an English Opium-Eater’. The Blue Plaque that is in his name is located at 36 Tavistock St in Covent Garden on the Café Murano building. In this building, he wrote his most famous book ‘Confessions of an English Opium-Eater’.
William Terriss (1847-1897) was an English actor known for his heroic portrayal of Robin Hood and his revered Shakespearean performances. In 1897, whilst he was entering the Adelphi Theatre in Maiden Lane, he was murdered by a deranged actor, Richard Archer Prince. The Green Plaque above the stage door of the Adelphi Theatre at 18-20 Maiden Lane where William met his end.
Voltaire (1694-1778) was one of the greatest Enlightenment French writer, playwright and philosopher. Voltaire was well known for his works like Candide, Zaïre and his historical study ‘The Age of Louis XXIV’. In order to escape an almost-certain prison sentence in the notorious Bastille, Voltaire entered into an agreed exile and arrived in London where, for a time, the writer lived at 10 Maiden Land WC2E, in a house kept by an old French barber.
National Sporting Club
The National Sporting Club (1891-1929) was responsible for establishing the sport of boxing in Great Britain. The founder of this club was John Fleming and A.F “Peggy” Bettinson. The National Sporting Club was located at 43 King Street in Covent Garden, which is now Galleria Melissa.
Ambrose Godfrey was also known as Gottfried Hanckewitz (1660-1741) and was famous for having invented the fire extinguisher. He was one of the most successful manufacturer and apothecary of his time. At the corner of Maiden Lane and Southampton Street is the site where Ambrose used to work and live when he was chemist.
William Shipley (1715-1803) was an English social reformer and an inventor who created The Royal Society of Arts in 1754. The aim of this society was to promote arts in the United Kingdom. The site where he founded this society, at 25 Henrietta Street, is marked with a Green Plaque.
Jane Austen (1775-1817) was an English novelist whose books are known to be an analysis of early 19th century women. Her books often described the dependence of women on marriage and their will to be financially independent. Jane occupied a flat at 10 Henrietta Street in Covent Garden.
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