It began in London. Liberal MP William Ewart (1798–1869 – not be confused with prime minister William Ewart Gladstone, 1809-98), whose private member’s bill led to the passing of the Public Libraries Act (1850), had another bright idea, the placing of commemorative plaques on the houses of the esteemed. It was in 1863 he first mooted this cunning plan for ‘the places which had been the residences of the ornaments of their history could not be but precious to all thinking Englishmen’. Ewart was fascinating. As well as his interest in libraries and plaques he succeeded in abolishing the death penalty for cattle rustling, for which I’m eternally grateful.