The National Blue Plaques Scheme

The National Blue Plaques scheme celebrates extraordinary people from ordinary communities across England.

Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Judy Dench looking cheerful in front of the Blue
Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Judy Dench standing next to the Blue Plaque of John Gielgud. © Historic England

We're raising funds for the new National Blue Plaques Scheme which will, over the next 2 years, celebrate up to 20 extraordinary and inspirational people from all corners of the country.  

An expansion to the blue plaques scheme has been launched by Historic England to celebrate people who made an important and positive contribution to human welfare or happiness across England. The scheme, which will be developed and led by Historic England, will recognise that every place has a unique story to tell, and help to showcase the importance of heritage everywhere. 

Supporting the Scheme

Each Blue Plaque takes considerable resources to research, design, manufacture and install. There's still time to become part of the inaugural cohort of National Blue Plaques supporters. By joining our generous donors, you’ll be among the first to know about new plaques being installed and have access to dedicated events relating to the extraordinary people we are commemorating.  

Blue Plaque to Daphne Steele, the first unveiled in the new national scheme, run by Historic England on behalf of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, in Ilkely, Yorkshire in February 2024. © Historic England

First Historic England National Blue Plaque unveiled  

Our first National Blue Plaque was unveiled in February 2024, to Daphne Steele, a woman who made history by becoming the first black matron in the NHS sixty years ago in 1964. Described as a 'quiet revolutionary', Daphne, who was appointed matron at the age of 36, summed up her achievement in 2001, saying "if one can do it, we can all do it". You can read more about Daphne's ground-breaking career and the plaque unveiling here.  

Our national blue plaques scheme is a fantastic opportunity to tell the stories of inspirational people, like Daphne, who have helped make the world a better place. Blue plaques are well known and loved. They help people and communities feel pride and connection to their local and national heritage. This summer, we will be inviting people across England to nominate the individuals they believe deserve a blue plaque and I look forward to seeing the stories this uncovers.  - Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England

The first Blue Plaque in the new national scheme, run by Historic England on behalf of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, to Daphne Steele, the first Black Matron in the NHS, with her son, Robert Steele. © Historic England

Diverse Histories

This new scheme will build on the existing London Blue Plaques scheme, which will continue to be run by English Heritage. We will install plaques in all corners of the country, from Carlisle to Cornwall, Gloucestershire to Norfolk. The National Blue Plaques will represent the breadth of people and events that have shaped England’s history.  

Later this year, we will unveil plaques to Beatles icon, songwriter, and humanitarian George Harrison, and to Clarice Cliff, regarded as one of the most influential ceramicists of the 20th century, and to more individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to national history.  

Patricia Routledge and members of the Women's Voluntary Services at the Stella Reading Blue Plaque.
Patricia Routledge and members of the Women's Voluntary Services at the Stella Reading Blue Plaque. Patricia Routledge and members of the Women's Voluntary Services at the Stella Reading Blue Plaque. © Historic England

Democratic processes 

Anyone can propose a plaque within the criteria for the scheme, and we will be opening a national call for nominations this summer. A rigorous research approach drawing on national and local expertise, including our National Blue Plaques Panel, will decide who will be celebrated. As a national scheme we will select truly inspirational candidates across England, from household names to stories not yet told.  

Quality and artistic skill 

Our bespoke ceramic plaques are handmade and designed to last for generations. They are harder than steel, unaffected by solvents and acids, colour sealed, frost-, rot-, rodent- and flame-proof, meaning they can last for many hundreds of years without maintenance.  

Iconic markers of heritage 

Blue Plaques are instantly recognisable symbols of historical significance and connection. Their distinctive cobalt hue, coupled with the engraved white lettering, creates a visually striking and memorable image that captures the public's attention as a popular way of commemorating important contributions to society. 

Our National Blue Plaques Programme has been kindly supported by Delancey and The Earls Court Development Company.