There’s no denying that politics and Primrose Hill go together; take a look at our post http://wp.me/p3iVSp-8T for our previous observations in that regard. However, political figures have been drawn to live in our little neighbourhood even before Ralph Miliband brought up his sons here in the 1970s and 80s.
Take Jose Rizal, for instance. He was a Philippino nationalist and political reformer; and together with Andres Bonifacio he is considered a national hero of the Philippines for his role in overthrowing Spanish rule in the 19th Century. His execution, aged just thirty-five, by the Spanish in 1896 is considered to have sparked the Philippine Revolution, and in his homeland, Rizal is honoured as a hero every year on December 31, the anniversary of his death.
As a student, however, Rizal took up temporary residence at 37 Chalcot Crescent, where he boarded with the Beckett family and is thought to have fallen in love with the eldest of the three daughters of the house, Gertrude. A Blue Plaque marks his time at the house, which must surely have been a happy period of his life.
Meanwhile, just around the corner at 122 Regents Park Road you will find a Blue Plaque commemorating another of our most famous former political residents: one Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), co-author with Karl Marx of the Communist Manifesto and co-founder of the Communist Party. He lived here from 1870 until his death, and during this time he devoted much of his attention to editing Marx’s masterpiece, Das Kapital.
An entertaining description of Engels’s surprisingly lavish lifestyle can be found at http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/3540231/eat-drink-and-be-communist/ although of course far be it from me to suggest that either Primrose Hill or Engels himself would have any history of, or association with, Champagne socialism. Not at all.
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