Discover Blue Plaques Part 1

Discover Blue Plaques Part 1

Wednesday, 10 January 2024
We reveal the stories behind the bright blue circles… 

Our enriching neighbourhood of Bloomsbury has attracted academics, revolutionary thinkers and creative crowds to its leafy garden squares and idyllic streets for hundreds of years. Read about some of the inspiring former residents below; not only did these individuals help shape the Bloomsbury we know and love today – but they had a significant impact on wider London history and culture. You will find their names on blue plaques dotted about the area, but what’s their story? 

Virginia Woolf Blue Plaque
48-55 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9EU.

Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941) was a famous writer, and feminist, who resided in various locations within Bloomsbury, notably at 46 Gordon Square and 52 Tavistock Square, where she and her husband, Leonard Woolf, hosted influential gatherings. These gatherings soon formed an artistic collective who became known as ‘The Bloomsbury Group’ which included the likes of E.M. Forster and Vanessa Bell. Woolf rejected Victorian values and embraced modernist ideas, which are still looked at today as a pivotal period for English Literature. Woolf's time in Bloomsbury included the creation of her novel masterpieces ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ and ‘To the Lighthouse.’ Our neighbourhood itself became a central setting in ‘Mrs. Dalloway’, where Woolf captured the essence of the Bloomsbury environment.  

Might have you stayed at Tavistock Hotel? ​The building stands on the site where Woolf once lived and overlooks the trees she looked out at each morning. Stroll the garden square to discover her statue, which attracts literary tour groups each week. Or curl up with a copy of Mrs Dalloway on a chaise lounge in a Virginia Woolf themed bedroom at Morton Hotel…there are plenty of ways to feel connected to such a prominent and well-loved author. 

Richard D'oyly Blue Plaque 
56-60 Guilford St, Russell Square, London WC1N 1DB

Richard D'Oyly Carte (1844–1901) was a prominent English impresario, hotelier, and theatrical producer, best known for his significant contributions to the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. He founded the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in 1875, managing and producing the works of librettist W.S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan. Carte played a crucial role in popularising comic operas in Victorian England, producing enduring classics such as "H.M.S. Pinafore," "The Pirates of Penzance," and "The Mikado." In addition to his theatrical pursuits, Carte was also involved in hotel management, notably establishing the Savoy Hotel. Richard D'Oyly Carte's contributions left a lasting impact on both the operatic and hospitality industries in the late 19th century.​

Perhaps you’d like to follow in D’Oyly Carte’s footsteps and take a trip to the theatre? Our family of hotels are a short walk from Theatreland, in the West End, Covent Garden.  

Roger Fry Blue Plaque
48 Bernard Street, Bloomsbury, London.

Roger Fry (1866–1934) was a British art critic, painter, and a pivotal figure in the Bloomsbury Group. Fry is renowned for introducing Post-Impressionist art to England and organising the groundbreaking "Manet and the Post-Impressionists" exhibition in 1910. As a member of the Bloomsbury Group, he played a key role in the intellectual and artistic circles of Bloomsbury, shaking up traditional ways of living and thinking. Fry's impact extended beyond his art criticism; he also contributed to the Omega Workshops; an avant-garde design collective associated with the Bloomsbury Group.  

Do you feel inspired to spend the afternoon immersing yourself in art just like Roger Fry did? Peruse the Sir John Soanes Museum on the Bloomsbury/Holborn border and soak up an impressive collection of artefacts and paintings. 

William Henry Blue Plaque
 71 Marchmont Street, London WC1N 1AP

​William Henry Hunt (1790–1864) was a 19th-century English watercolour painter known for his meticulously detailed and vibrant depictions of nature, animals, and rural scenes. Hunt, born in London, gained recognition for his skill in capturing the intricate details of flora and fauna, often illustrating birds, flowers, and landscapes with a meticulous and realistic style. His works were highly regarded for their naturalistic precision, earning him a reputation as a prominent watercolourist during the Victorian era. 

Why not take a walk in Russell Square to appreciate the sights of the ancient lime trees, lawns, shrubbery, hedgerows and wildlife that inspired William Henry Hunt all those years ago? 

Sir William Empson Blue Plaque
 71 Marchmont Street, Bloomsbury, London.

William Empson (1906–1984) was an influential English literary critic and poet renowned for his work, "Seven Types of Ambiguity" (1930), which delved into the intricate layers of meaning in poetry. As a professor at institutions like the University of Sheffield and the University of Cambridge, Empson played a central role in shaping the academic study of literature. His analytical prowess, particularly in exploring multiple interpretations in literary works, established him as a key figure in 20th-century literary criticism. 

Might you be a literary buff keen to explore the bookshops in Bloomsbury? Pick up some second-hand fiction or prose at Judd Books, or a latest bestseller at Gay’s the Word and immerse yourself in stories just like Empson did.

picture of bloomsbury area
And would you believe this is just a handful of the many innovative individuals who also have blue plaques in Bloomsbury. Keep your eyes peeled for a Blue Plaques article, part 2, coming soon.  

Bedroom picture at Morton Hotel, Bloomsbury, London.
Morton Hotel, Bloomsbury, London.

Are you visiting central London for a cultural weekend or city break? Immerse yourself in the most historical area of London and book an affordable hotel room with the Imperial London Hotels, ready to warmly welcome you. Close to UCL and 2 minutes from the British Museum, we have a range of rooms and dining options to suit your style and budget. 

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