Gresham's School to erect 25 blue plaques for famous former pupils

Holt's Gresham's School wants to put up 25 blue plaques commemorating a number of its former pupils, including, from...

Holt's Gresham's School wants to put up 25 blue plaques commemorating a number of its former pupils, including, from left, Olivia Colman, James Dyson and WH Auden. - Credit: PA/Central Press Photos

A Norfolk boarding school is to celebrate 25 of its former pupils by putting up blue plaques.

Gresham's School in Holt, north Norfolk is seeking permission to put up 25 blue plaques on the Old School House in the town market place.

The grade II listed building, which dates back to 1858 is located in the Holt Conservation Area and is currently used by the Gresham's nursery and pre-prep.

If given the go-ahead Gresham's plans to install 25 blue plaques to "commemorate prominent Old Greshamian’s by linking them to the original building of Gresham’s School."

The Old School House in Holt, the building is currently used by Gresham's Nursery and Pre-Prep

The Old School House in Holt, the building is currently used by Gresham's Nursery and Pre-Prep. The school is seeking permission to put 25 blue plaques commemorating former pupils on building. - Credit: Google Maps

The plaques will be "evenly spaced along the length of the Grade II listed facade" with 10 plaques placed on the north face of the building, eight plaques on the south side of the building and seven plaques on the west side.


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The blue plaques will be based on the design of those used by English Heritage in London to commemorate where important historical figures lived.

English Heritage has a number of criteria which have to be met before a plaque can be erected including that no one building can have more than two plaques and that the candidate must have been dead for at least 20 years.

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Outside the capital, blue plaques are used by local authorities and organisations to link particular buildings or sites to famous people or the achievements of a group.

Among the former pupil's Gresham's is seeking to commemorate are poet WH Auden, composer Benjamin Britten, the spy Donald Maclean, the inventor Sir James Dyson and broadcaster Paddy O'Connell.

The only woman on the list is actress Olivia Colman.

File photo dated 02/02/20 of Olivia Colman, who is among the nominees ahead of this year's Emmy Awar

Olivia Colman, who is the only woman on Gresham's list of 25 former pupils the school is hoping to erect blue plaques to on Old School House in Holt. - Credit: PA

When asked to explain the decision-making behind how pupils were chosen for the scheme, a spokesperson for Gresham's said the initial phase of its project to recognise "high profile figures who were educated at Gresham’s" focussed on the school's heritage.

They said: "As the initial phase revolves around Old School House and the school’s heritage, we largely focused on the deceased and older Old Greshamians.

"As a result, 21 of the plaques proposed are for former pupils who attended the school before it became co-educational in 1971. Four recognise former pupils who joined after 1971. 

"This is an ongoing project and we hope to be able to add more plaques to other areas of the school as we move forward."

Who would the blue plaques be for?

The former Gresham's pupils to be honoured with a plaque are:

-WH Auden (1907-1973), poet

-Sir Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989), composer

-Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), composer

-Erskine Childers (1870-1922), president of Ireland

-Sir Christopher Cockerell (1910-1999), Hovercraft inventor

-Sir Philip Dowson (1924-2014), president of the Royal Academy

-Sir Alan Hodgkin (1914-1998), Nobel Prize winner

-Gerald Holtom (1914-1985), designer

-Donald Maclean (1913-1983), Soviet spy

-Ben Nicholson (1894-1982), artist

-Ian Proctor (1918-1992), boat designer 

-Lord Reith (1889-1971), first director-general of the BBC

-Tom Wintringham (1898-1949), Home Guard founder

-G. Evelyn Hutchinson (1903-1991), father of modern ecology

-Richard Chopping (1917-2008), James Bond illustrtor

-James Halman (1639-1702), master of Caius College, Cambridge

-Dr Thomas Girdlestone (1758-1822), pioneer of vaccination

-Edward Hammond (1562-1597), first pupil

-Olivia Colman (b.1974), actor

-Sir James Dyson (b.1947), inventor

-Stephen Frears (b.1941), film director

-Sir Martin Wood (b.1927), engineer

-Nick, Tom and Ben Youngs (b. 1957, 1987, 1989), England rugby internationals

-Richard Leman (b.1955), Olympic hockey gold medallist

-Paddy O'Connell (b.1966), broadcaster



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