Hampstead has been home to many famous and influential people, from those who have changed the way we think, to those who have changed the way we shop.
From Sir Henry Vane, the Parliamentarian beheaded in 1662, to Sir Henry Cole, the Victorian postal reformer who originated the custom of sending Christmas cards, and from John Constable, the artist, to John Lewis the draper, Hampstead provided the home they sought. As have so many other greats who have distinguished themselves in the world of politics, business, science, literature, art, music, theatre and film.
Commemorative plaques form a tangible link between these illustrious earlier residents and the buildings of Hampstead. Their enticing presence fascinates people of all ages and backgrounds, residents and visitors alike. They instruct and entertain, they bring the past into the present, and they perpetuate their memory, making buildings their own biographers, and are a source of local pride. Plaques also mark buildings of significant historical or architectural note, informing us of their history or contribution to the built environment.
There are over 75 such plaques in Hampstead around half of which are the blue (formerly brown) round plaques erected by English Heritage or its forebears, the Society of Arts, London County Council and Greater London Council. The other half are the distinctive black oval Hampstead plaques of The Heath & Hampstead Society.