Celebrating 150 Years of London Blue Plaques (feat. Ian McKellen)


2016 marks 150 years of London’s Blue Plaques.
There are over 900 blue plaques in London, they range from Shakespearean actors to scientists,
a French Emperor and even a namer of clouds. Hello, I’m Ian McKellen and I’m in the East
End of London, Mile End. I’m by a railway bridge that was bombed during the Second World
War in 1944 by the first of the VI Bombers. One of those pilotless plains sent over to
destroy itself and whatever was beneath it. Today you might think, why did they tear those
houses down? Well they didn’t, they were destroyed. My name is Shami Chakrabati. I’m a human rights
campaigner and I’m here at 14 Soho Square, where there is a wonderful blue plaque commemorating
the life of Mary Seacole. She was a great pioneering nurse, adventurer and the first
black woman to write her own autobiography. I’m Robert Winston and I’ve chosen Moses Montefiore’s
house at 99 Park Lane. I’ve chosen this particular plaque because my great grandfather was Moses
Montefiore’s personal rabbi and he used to travel with him. Well Moses Montefiore retired
at the age of 40 having made a lot of money in the city, and for the next 60 years he
devoted his life to philanthropic causes. My name is Alexia Casale and I write for young
adults and for adults. I’m standing by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s plaque at 63 Portland Place.
I’ve always loved her work and particularly the Secret Garden. Frances had a real talent
for talking to children and writing for children in a way that never looked down to them, that
just treated them as people. She was so far ahead of her time. She brought a law suit
when sometime adapted her work for the theatre, and that set a copyright precedent and if
that’s not a feminist, I don’t know what is!? I love stumbling across blue plaques. There’s
so many in London and it’s kind of a treasure hunt about who was this and what were doing
and what point of their life were they at? I think blue plaques are a wonderful memorial
to people who really contributed to our society. How can that not inspire anyone? Because it’s
close to me, because I pass it often, I just wanted to commend English Heritage for putting
it there.

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