It doesn’t take long strolling through the streets of Bloomsbury before you come across your first plaque. From Virginia Woolf to George Orwell, 17 plaques commemorating a diverse range of distinguished people can be found across the University of London’s central precinct in the heart of Bloomsbury.
The plaques represent notable people from diverse social backgrounds and religions and of different ages, genders and nationalities but what unites them all is their eminence within their field of expertise.
It is fitting that these people from all walks of life are marked on University-owned property. Since the University of was founded in 1836, we have pioneered widening access to education. We were the first to open our doors to all students irrespective of race, creed or political belief, the first to admit female students and the first to open our degrees to distance learning.
Celebrating people in this way highlights the historical associations of buildings and demonstrates the way these small but important pieces of text, inscribed on metal and stone, foster community interest in local history.
From anaesthetists to anthropologists and poets to politicians, each individual identified on their plaque, installed by local councils, civic societies and English Heritage, will have a unique story to tell about their time in Bloomsbury. Though some parts of their stories will be lost, their lasting memory is here to stay – albeit in a small way – on Bloomsbury’s bricks and mortar.