A blue heritage plaque on a brown stone wall
The national blue plaque awarded to Daphne Steele in February 2024. © Historic England
The national blue plaque awarded to Daphne Steele in February 2024. © Historic England

The National Blue Plaques Panel

Historic England has appointed an impressive and diverse panel of academics and cultural commentators to lead the national blue plaque scheme.

The group consists of 6 panel members and an Interim Chair, and members come from various places across England.

The panel members first met in November 2023. With support and advice from Historic England, they will meet several times a year and work closely to review candidates.

Professor Ronald Hutton

Interim Panel Chair

Ronald Hutton is the senior Professor of History at the University of Bristol and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Society of Antiquaries, the Learned Society of Wales, and the British Academy. He is also the Gresham Professor of Divinity at London and sits on the Conservation Committee of Historic England.

He has published 18 books and 83 essays on various subjects, including British history between 1400 and 1700, ancient and modern paganism in Britain, the British ritual year, and the history of witchcraft and magic.

Samira Ahmed

Samira Ahmed is a journalist, broadcaster and writer whose work explores the intersection of popular culture, art, science, politics and social change. She presents the BBC's flagship arts and culture show 'Front Row' on Radio 4 and 'Newswatch' on BBC1.
Her recent works include uncovering the earliest complete concert recording of the Beatles in the UK, made at Stowe School in 1963. Her investigation was sparked by spotting a commemorative plaque on the school theatre building.

Samira was named British Broadcasting Press Guild Audio/Radio Presenter of the Year 2020. Her BBC4 documentary series 'Art of Persia' (2020) was the first major series filmed in Iran for 40 years.

She is also on the advisory board of the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford; a trustee of the Centre for Women's Justice and Humanists UK; an Ambassador for the Theatres Trust; sits on the editorial review board of Doctor Who magazine; and an honorary fellow of St Edmund Hall, Oxford.

Professor Sarah Churchwell

Sarah Churchwell is Professor of American Literature and Chair of Public Understanding of the Humanities at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, where she directs the UK's national festival of the humanities, the Being Human Festival.

She is the author of 'The Wrath to Come: Gone with the Wind and the Lies America Tells'; 'Behold, America: A History of America First and the American Dream'; 'Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and The Invention of The Great Gatsby'; and 'The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe', which recently inspired a 4-part CNN/BBC documentary narrated by Jessica Chastain.

Sarah comments widely on arts, culture, and politics in print, television, radio, and film. She has judged many literary prizes, including the Booker Prize. She was co-winner of the Eccles British Library Writer's Award in 2015, named by Prospect magazine as one of the world's Top 50 Thinkers in 2020, and longlisted for the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2021.

Professor Jerome de Groot

Jerome teaches at the University of Manchester as Professor of Literature and Culture.

He has built his career working on Public and Popular history, examining how communities remember and commemorate. He is the author of several books on the subject, including 'Consuming History', and his fellowships have taken him worldwide to places including Canberra, Tokyo, Dublin, Uppsala, and Washington, D.C.

In 2016, Jerome led the successful application for Manchester to become a UNESCO City of Literature. He has chaired the Manchester Literature Festival and is currently on the Board of Contact Theatre in Manchester.   

Professor Alison Oram

Alison is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London. She was Professor of Social and Cultural History at Leeds Beckett University between 2007 and 2019, where she is now Professor Emerita.
Her work as a historian has focussed on 'history from below' and on sharing knowledge through education and public engagement. She has published widely on 20th century LGBTQ, lesbian and queer British history and on women's history.
Alison is keenly interested in the representation of LGBTQ and women's histories in historic houses and everyday heritage. She led 'Pride of Place: England's LGBTQ Heritage' for Historic England between 2015 and 2016, which produced various publicly available resources, including an online exhibition, a crowd-sourced online map and amended listing descriptions.

She advised the National Trust on their Prejudice and Pride theme in 2017 and co-wrote their LGBTQ guidebook.

Professor Martin Polley

Martin Polley is the Director of the International Centre for Sports History and Culture and Professor of History at De Montfort University, Leicester. He previously held teaching posts at the University of Winchester and the University of Southampton.  
His research interests lie in the cultural, social, and political history of sport. His publications include 'Moving the Goalposts: A History of Sport and Society since 1945', 'Sports History: A Practical Guide', and (for English Heritage) 'The British Olympics: Britain's Olympic Heritage 1612-2012'.
He is a regular contributor of sporting lives to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and has provided commentary on the history of sport for the BBC and international broadcasters. Martin is a keen runner who competed in the Wenlock Olympian Games and the Cotswold Olimpick Games.

Susie Thornberry

Susie is a director, producer and writer. She is currently Artistic Director of Metal Culture, which works to inspire positive social change through art and creativity.

As a writer, Susie was shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize.

She is also a Battersea Arts Centre trustee, a Historic England Commissioner and a member of English Heritage's Blue Plaques Panel. She has experience across the arts, including at Artichoke, The Tower of London, The Gate Theatre, and Imperial War Museums, where she was director of public engagement.