Norfolk war hero among blue plaque snubs by English Heritage

PUBLISHED: 07:08 20 November 2018 | UPDATED: 08:44 20 November 2018

A nomination for Norfolk-born Constance Baker to have a blue plaque in London was rejected. Pic: Sonya Duncan

A nomination for Norfolk-born Constance Baker to have a blue plaque in London was rejected. Pic: Sonya Duncan


A Norfolk-born seamstress who helped injured First World War soldiers was among the nominations for London blue plaques turned down by English Heritage after the past 12 months.

The plaques are bestowed on buildings where a person of note either lived or created their best work, but new figures have revealed some of those which were turned down.

The likes of painter Francis Bacon and Mary Poppins author PL Travers had plaques erected in their honour during the 12 months from October 2017, but another 35 applications were dismissed.

Data disclosed to the Press Association under Freedom of Information laws among those snubbed by English Heritage was Norfolk’s Constance Baker.

The dressmaker, who was born in Fincham in 1868 and lived in Marham during her childhood, was in high demand from theatre performers for her seamstress skills after she moved to London.

But she was given the moniker “Mother of the Wounded” for her dedication in helping injured soldiers returning from the First World War. She died in 1929 She was buried in Fulham, where she had lived with her husband John.

Other nominations for plaques which were rejected included Oscar-winning actor Ronald Colman, women’s rights campaigner Eva Gore-Booth, and cricketer Albert Trott, whose name is synonymous with the sport having been the first - and possibly only - player to have struck the ball so well that it cleared the pavilion at Lord’s.

English Heritage, which operates the scheme in London, said while many nominations were worthy, there were strict criteria which bound whether or not to begin the lengthy process of researching then creating a blue plaque.

While some - such as a stipulation the person has to have been dead for at least 20 years to allow a retrospective examination of their life’s works - are easy to settle, others are more subjective.

Howard Spencer, senior historian who directs the research into the blue plaques for the charity, said: “There is a set criteria that the panel uses as a yardstick to consider all nominations, and the most important aspects of that is that person has to be of significant public standing and to have made a positive contribution to human welfare or happiness.

“We are looking for fame, not infamy.”

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