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Norman Shaw | by Fray Bentos
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Norman Shaw

When Melbury Road, Kensington, was first built, many of its residents were figures from the arts. G. F. Watts, William Holman Hunt, the sculptor Hamo Thornycroft and the architect William Burges all had homes here. Around the corner in Holland Park Road, lived Frederic Leighton, whose house is now a museum. No. 8 Melbury Road was designed in 1875 by the most eminent architect of the age, Richard Norman Shaw, for the painter Marcus Stone. Stone's is no longer a household name and his paintings are not admired today by persons of advanced taste. In his own time however, his works were familiar to everyone in the form of engravings. A few are still popular as prints today.

Stone died in the house in 1921. A blue plaque records that it was subsequently the home of the film director Michael Powell. I can't help feeling that blue plaques are being devalued or dumbed down. After all, film directors, however eminent, are really showbiz people. You might as well start handing the things out for pop singers, jugglers or pea-and-thimble men.

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Taken on March 10, 2007