This section is from "Scientific American Supplement Volumes 275, 286, 288, 299, 303, 312, 315, 324, 344 and 358". Also available from Amazon: Scientific American Reference Book.
In the year 1864, a letter appeared in the Journal of the Society of Arts from a correspondent, who suggested that the Society of Arts should offer a prize or prizes for designs of memorial tablets to be affixed to houses associated with distinguished persons, and in the same year a series of suggested inscriptions was reprinted from the Builder. The subject having been brought under the notice of the council, a committee was appointed in 1866 to consider and report how the society might promote the erection of statues or other memorials of persons eminent in arts, manufactures, and commerce, and, at the first meeting of the committee, on May 7, Mr. George C.T. Bartley submitted some memoranda on the proposal to place labels on houses in the metropolis known to have been inhabited by celebrated persons In 1837, the first tablet was erected by the society in Holles Street, Cavendish Square, on the house where Byron was born. Other tablets were soon afterward put up, and the erection of these memorials has been continued to the present time.
The house in Leicester Square, upon which a tablet in memory of Hogarth has been erected, is occupied by Archbishop Tenison's school, for which the house was rebuilt. The original building, in which Hogarth lived for several years, was long known as the "Sablonière Hotel." John Hunter lived next door after Hogarth's death. Of the four worthies who were intimately connected with Leicester Square, viz, Hunter, Hogarth, Newton and Reynolds, and whose busts are now set up at the four corners of the inclosure, the last three have tablets erected.
The house in St. Martin's Street, which is now occupied by the schools attached to the Orange Street Chapel, is in much the same condition as when Sir Isaac Newton lived in it, from 1710 to 1727, except that the old red bricks have been covered with stucco, and an observatory on the roof has been taken away within the last few years.
Flaxman had several London residences, but the house in Buckingham Street, Fitzroy Square, is the one with which he is most intimately associated, as he lived in it during the prime of his artistic career. He went there in 1796, when he returned from Rome, and there he died in 1826, being buried in the ground adjoining old St. Pancras Church and belonging to the parish of St. Giles-in-the fields. The house is on the south side of the street, close by Great Titchfield Street.
Canning's house, on the south side of Conduit Street is greatly changed since the great statesman lived in it. It originally formed a wing of Trinity Chapel, which has been swept away within the last few years. This chapel was the successor of the chapel-on-wheels which was used at the Hounslow camp in the reign of James II., and was subsequently brought up to London. It is shown in Kip's view of old Burlington House as standing in the fields at the back of that house. When Conduit Street was built, a chapel was erected on the south side to supersede the chapel-on-wheels. The house on the west side of the chapel, where Canning lived for a time, was subsequently inhabited for many years by the famous physician, Dr. Elliotson, F.R.S. After his death, the front was altered, and a large shop window made, as seen in the accompanying figure. It is now in the possession of Mr. Streeter, the jeweler.
Dr. Johnson had so many residences in London that there is some difficulty in choosing the one that is most interesting to us. The house in Gough Square has special claims to attention, as it was there that the great lexicographer chiefly compiled his dictionary. The garret, with its slanting roof, in which his amanuenses worked, and his own study are still to be been. Johnson himself, in his "Life of Milton," observes, "I cannot but remark a kind of respect, perhaps unconsciously, paid to this great man by his biographers; every house in which he resided is historically mentioned, as if it were an injury to neglect naming any place that he honored by his presence." Emboldened by this expression of opinion, Boswell one evening, in the year 1779, ventured to ask Johnson the names of some of his residences, and he obtained the following list, which he printed in his "Life of Johnson:" (1) Exeter Street, off Catherine Street, Strand, (2) Greenwich; (3) Woodstock Street, near Hanover Square; (4) Castle Street, Cavendish Square, No. 6, (5) Strand; (6) Boswell Court; (7) Strand again; (8) Bow Street; (9) Holborn; (10) Fetter Lane; (11) Holborn again, (12) Gough Square; (18) Staple's Inn; (14) Gray's Inn; (15) Inner Temple Lane, No. 1; (16) Johnson's Court, No. 7; (17) Bolt Court, No. 8. In this last place he died in 1784.
In April, 1879, the corporation of the city of London were asked to co-operate in this work, and to undertake the erection of suitable memorial tablets within the city boundaries. The matter was referred to the city lands committee, with which body the secretary has had several communications with respect to the localities suggested for memorials, the result being that the committee agreed to erect such tablets within the city boundaries. - Journal of the Society of Arts.