Discover Your Home’s Heritage

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HOME FRONT with Jenny Knight

A little blue plaque on the side of a house doesn’t just add snob-value, but according to estate agents it will make the house easier to sell and may even boost its price, finds Jenny Knight

There are now more than 900 blue plaques across London honouring the places where famous men or women who have lived or worked.

A survey by English Heritage, which runs the scheme, found that 78 per cent of estate agents believe a plaque helps a property sell. However, a survey by Knight Frank found that it is blue plaque homes with literary connections that bring in higher prices compared with plaques linked to other professions.

Knight Frank analysed data from English Heritage and found the total sale value of homes in London with blue plaques connected to literary figures is worth more than £91m. Westminster, Camden and Kensington & Chelsea are the top three boroughs for blue plaques but South London also has its fair share.Clapham Common Northside, for example, has a record six plaques including one for novelist Graham Greene, beaten only by Cheyne Walk in Chelsea with 10 plaques.

Other famous south Londoners commemorated in this way are anti-slavery campaigner, William Wilberforce, in Broomwood Road, Battersea; politician David Lloyd George, in Routh Road, Wandsworth; Sir Harry Lauder, music hall giant in Longley Road, Tooting and war heroine Violetta Szabo, Burnley Road, Stockwell.

It can be fun and possibly worthwhile to investigate the history of your home. Websites such as nationalarchives.gov.uk can make the job easier.

If your home was once lived in by a famous person contact plaques@english-heritage.org.uk, briefly outlining your idea. If the person has already been turned down, they won’t be reconsidered for another ten years. At least 20 years must have passed since the death of the famous person, so it’s not possible to put yourself up for the honour!

Other schemes are run by the Heritage Foundation to commemorate entertainment giants and the Nubian Jak Community Trust for prominent historical black people. Southwark Council put up a plaque in, Peckham Park Road, to commemorate the childhood home of footballer Rio Ferdinand, who grew up on the Friary Estate. In Exeter there is a plaque honouring Mary the carrier pigeon who flew secret messages from France during the Second World War.

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