Certain people are worth knowing about because history has to do with history. Knowing them will put things in context.
My mom and I were discussing what she wanted to do the next time she came out and brought up the blue plaques system that was mentioned on one of the travel channels that she was watching. She gave me a list of the ones she wanted to see but said that if it was any trouble that I was not to worry. So I looked up where we were going and where the locations of the plaques were and tried to work them in.
The Blue Plaque system was founded in 1866 and they are found all over the UK. Some councils run their own scheme but the official one is run by English Heritage.
It takes between 4-6 years for an application to go through. Every nomination has to meet basic selection criteria before it can be considered. Most importantly, a London building associated with the subject must survive, and they must have been dead for 20 years or have passed the centenary of their birth.
Here are the other requirements for the suggestion to be passed from the English Heritage website:
Nominated figures must also:
be considered eminent by a majority of members of their own profession or calling
have made an important positive contribution to human welfare or happiness
have had such exceptional and outstanding personalities as to be recognisable to the well-informed passer-by, or deserve national recognition
have resided in London for a significant period, in time or importance, within their life or work
In the case of overseas visitors, candidates should:
be of international reputation or significant standing in their own country
Additionally, it should be noted that:
plaques can only be erected on the actual building inhabited by the nominated figure, not the site where the building once stood. However, consideration may be given in cases where reconstructed buildings present an exact facsimile frontage on the identical site.
buildings marked with plaques must be visible from the public highway.
plaques can only be erected on buildings, not on boundary walls or gate piers.
each figure may only be commemorated with one plaque: unless a case is deemed exceptional, suggestions will not be considered for figures already commemorated by a plaque erected by the (Royal) Society of Arts, the London County Council, the Greater London Council or English Heritage.
proposals will not be considered for the commemoration of individuals still living.
proposals will be considered for the commemoration of sites of special historical interest, though these should be of national (or even international) significance.
a building shall not be commemorated solely because it figures in a work of fiction.
the erection of plaques on blocks of flats is not excluded, nor are significant places of work.
unless a case is deemed exceptional, plaques shall not be erected on educational or ecclesiastical buildings or Inns of Court.
the City of London and Whitehall are ruled out for consideration under the blue plaques scheme.
You can find a list of plaques and their locations here. It can enhance any of your trips.
Charles Darwin is known for the controversial evolution theory also known as Natural Selection.
He was originally studying to be a doctor at Edinburgh University but switched to divinity at Cambridge University. It is rumoured he couldn't stand the sight of blood.
He went on the five-year HMS Beagle voyage around the world where he came across the idea of evolution.
He married his first cousin, Emma Wedgwood.
He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Darwin places in Cambridge:
Darwin attended Christ College for 3 years.
On Sidney Street above the Boots, Darwin lived in a room. There is a plaque to say that he stayed there.
Fitzwilliam Street- there is a plaque stating when Darwin lived after his Beagle voyage.
Darwin college- Darwin's son owned the original building. This is a graduate school.
In 2009, there was a festival in Cambridge to celebrate Darwin, this website has a lot of information and ideas of things to do in Cambridge.
Sherlock Holmes is a character in the stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Sherlock Holmes lived at 221b Baker Street from 1881-1904 and there is a blue plaque commemorating this above the Sherlock Holmes Museum.
Interest in Sherlock Holmes has recently increased with the recent release of the movie, Sherlock Holmes, directed by Guy Ritchie.
Sherlock Holmes was a quirky detective who comes to large conclusions from the smalls details. He has a right-hand man, Dr John H Watson, who assists the detective on his search for the answer to the puzzle.
Why not read the books with your family and take a visit to the museum to tie it all together.
Jack the Ripper
I think this is one of the most famous unsolved serial murder case.
The murders occurred in the East End of London in Whitechapel District in 1888. The case was never solved but there were over 100 theories of who the cold blooded killer could be.
There are 11 murders that were attributed to Jack the Ripper but based on the modus operadi, there are five that they are convinced are from the same attacker. Most of the victims were female prostitutes. They all had their throats cut before their internal organs were removed from their bodies.
Sir Christopher Wren is a very influential person and you will see his influence all around England. He was a great architect and once I name the works he has designed you will see how great he really was:
St Paul's Cathedral, London
St Clements Dane, London
Pembroke College's Chapel, Cambridge
Royal Observatory, Greenwich
Trinity College Library, Cambridge
Emmanuel College Chapel, Cambridge
Reconstruction of Kensington Palace
Hampton Court Palace
St James' Palace
He was born on 20 Oct 1632 and attended Oxford University. He was a mathematician and a scientist and help found the Royal Society (a group that it is very honourable to belong to if you are a scientist). His interest in physics lead to architecture.
After the Great Fire of London in 1666, he had big plans for the rebuild of London but many people would not give up their property. He ended up going onto design 51 churches such as St Paul's and was knighted in 1673.
He died on 25 February 1723 and the inscription on his gravestone at St Paul's reads "If you seek his memorial, look about you."