Best of British: 60 things that make Britain great

Imagine you're cut off in a far-off land. What longings would be uppermost in your mind? Here we celebrate those aspects of life that make our islands distinct and beguiling.

 5. Blue plaque

Charles Dickens Blue Plaque Highgate London UK

Once you know what a Blue Plaque is, it’s impossible to pass one without stopping to read it. These distinctive ceramic discs record where celebrated individuals from the past lived or worked. The first commemorative plaque of this kind—to Lord Byron—appeared in London in 1867. Subsequently, the idea was taken up by London County Council in 1901, but the scheme is presently managed by English Heritage. In the meantime, this simple idea has been copied across Britain and the world.

‘To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it,
and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward’
(The Roadmender, Margaret Fairless Barber)

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