The capital has long been a haven for foreign political activists, refugees, and future leaders. Shona Hillworthy explores sites associated with them

Communist comrades

During his various trips to the capital, Lenin (1870-1924) lived at 30 Holford Square, Clerkenwell in 1902-03; nearby 16 Percy Circus, WC1* (off King's Cross Road) in 1905 - locations marked by a plaque or other memorial are shown with a *; and 6 Oakley Square, NW1, in 1911.

A private monument to Lenin stood at the Holford Square address, erected during the Second World War. When the bombed-out square was rebuilt in the early 1950s, the monument was to be incorporated into the new housing block, to be named Lenin Court. However, it had been so vandalised by anti-communists that this was impossible. Eventually, the block was renamed Bevin Court, after the former Labour Foreign Secretary. The bust of Lenin was saved, and has spent a nomadic existence thereafter, often in storage, but on show in Islington Town Hall in the 1970s and 1980s during periods of Labour rule inhe borough. It is now on display at Islington Museum, St John Street, EC1.

Quite apart from the much-visited grave at Highgate Cemetery, Karl Marx (1818-1883) is also well-represented around London, where he lived from 1849. He was first at 4 Anderson Street, Chelsea, SW3, then, having been evicted, at the German Hotel in Leicester Street, WC2. He spent several years in poverty in Dean Street, Soho, W1, first at 64, then for six years at 28* (later the Quo Vadis restaurant). He moved upscale to 9 (later 46) Grafton Terrace, NW5 for eight years, then finally to Maitland Park Road, NW3, first at 1 Modena Villas, and then at what was 41* (rebuilt as 101-108), where he died.

Other sites connected with Marx and early communism include the Marx Memorial Library at Marx House, 37A Clerkenwell Green, EC1; the Red Lion pub, Great Windmill Street, W1*, where he and Engels were asked at the Communist League's 2nd Congress to write what became the Communist Manifesto (1848). His daughter, the activist Eleanor Marx (1855-1898), lived and died at 7 Jews Walk, Lewisham SE26*.

And don't ignore what is now New Zealand House, Haymarket, SW1*, on which site the swanky Carlton Hotel boasted as one of its kitchen staff, Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969), the future president of Vietnam. He worked there from 1913 for the famous French chef, Escoffier, and helped prepare meals for the likes of Lloyd George and Churchill.

Nationalist leaders

Several of the Asian sub-continent's leading nationalists were based in London. Mohandas ‘Mahatma' Gandhi (1869-1948) lived at 20 Baron's Court Road, W14* while a law student, and at Kingsley Hall, Powis Road, E3* in 1931, while attending the Round Table Conference that steered the way towards self-rule. A statue of the seated Gandhi, unveiled in May 1968 by the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, takes pride of place in Tavistock Square Gardens, WC1.

Jawaharlal ‘Pandit' Nehru (1889-1964), India's first Prime Minister, lived at 60 Elgin Crescent, W11*, off Portobello Road, while studying for the Bar between 1910 and 1912. There is a Nehru bust in India Place, off Aldwych, WC2. Mohammed Ali Jinnah (1876-1948), founder of Pakistan, lived at 35 Russell Road, West Kensington, W14* in 1895, and in West Heath Road, Hampstead NW3. He addressed the Muslim League in 1917 at the Kingsway Hall, 70 Great Queen Street, WC2.

Many of the 19th century's major nationalist leaders spent some time in the metropolis. These included the Italian hero, Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872), who lived at 18 Fulham Road, SW6; 183 North Gower Street, NWI*; 10 Laystall Street, EC1*, which sports a fine memorial tablet, inscribed "the apostle of modern democracy"; and 5 Hatton Garden, which has a similar memorial.

The blue plaque at 4 Duke Street, W1 for Simon Bolivar (1783-1830), where he lived in 1810, proclaims him "Liberator of Latin America". Belgrave Square, SW1, boasts an impressive statue of Bolivar, which proclaims "I am convinced that England alone is capable of protecting the world's precious rights as she is great, glorious and wise". A Chilean nationalist hero, the wonderfully named Bernardo O'Higgins (1778-1842), who lived and studied at Clarence House, 2 The Vineyard, Richmond, TW10*, is remembered by a bust in O'Higgins Square, near Richmond Bridge, TW9.

It is interesting to wonder what influence living in London had on these political legends, and to ask - are the legends of the future living there now?