Welcome to the Society

We exist for "the encouragement, advancement and furtherance of the study and knowledge of the antiquities and history of this and other countries"

Michael Wood FSA appeals to the public to help us save

Burlington House

Fellow Michael Wood has made a video to help us build on the mounting support from across the UK and beyond, to urge the Government to help us find a new basis for tenure.  From unearthing secrets of the Staffordshire Hoard, to finding out the true life of Richard III – he highlights what makes Burlington House so special.  We need your support more than ever as we enter into a critical stage in our campaign to remain at Burlington House.  Please share Michael’s video with your MP and share it with friends and colleagues. For more information about how you can help visit our campaign page.

The Society of Antiquaries is an educational charity that promotes the understanding of the human past and recognises distinction in this field through election to its Fellowship.

Founded in 1707, the Society meets its remit through a wide-ranging programme of activities at Burlington House in London and at Kelmscott Manor – the inspirational retreat of William Morris – in the Cotswolds. It runs regular public, educational and academic events, lectures and exhibitions, gives grants for research and conservation, publishes books and journals on heritage topics and contributes to the formulation of public policy on the care of our historic environment and cultural property.

Burlington House is a hub of discovery – home to over 40,000 objects, paintings, prints and drawings, as well as a world-renowned library of over 130,000 books and manuscripts. Our collections span many centuries of human history, from Neolithic stone tools to Tudor royal portraits, copies of the Magna Carta to illuminated manuscripts saved from the dissolution of the monasteries.

The result of nearly 300 years of accumulation, the Society’s collection has a unique role in making rare and valuable material accessible to professional scholars and the visiting public.

The Society is a determinedly outward-facing charity, where enthusiasts meet experts from all over the world and ideas are shaped and discussed in our Library, lecture room and online.

Over the last six years:

  • 52,179 people have used or visited Burlington House.
  • 122,637 people have visited Kelmscott Manor.
  • £825,866 has been distributed in conservation and research grants; the latter focusing on early-years and independent researchers and/or high-quality projects that find it difficult to attract funding from other sources.
  • 174,982 digital downloads or full text views of our academic journals and monographs have taken place.
  • Research Showcase

  • Postgraduate Open Day

  • Summer Soiree

  • Postgraduate Open Day

  • Open House London

  • MA research and education visit to the Society

  • Head of Library past and present

  • Research Showcase

  • Early Careers Conference Particpants

    Online Exhibitions

    We are delighted to have launched our first online exhibition Henry VIII: Defender of the Faith?

    This exhibition examines the private life and public persona of King Henry VIII; his personal and political motivations for obtaining the title of ‘defender’; and how these same motivations saw him shift from ‘defender’ to ‘adversary’, to become England’s most notorious King.

    It features some of our unique and rarely-seen portraits, manuscripts, objects and books, including royal proclamations enforcing the Reformation and the inventory of his possessions drawn up on his death, to illustrate and to question the controversial life of Henry VIII.

    This exhibition was curator by our Museum Collections Manager, Kate Bagnall alongside Dr John Cooper FSA and Professor Maurice Howard Hon VPSA.

    To find out more, visit our exhibition site here.

    Dr John Cooper recently featured on Professor Suzannah Lipscomb podcast Not just the Tudors talking about the exhibition and how we were able to tell the story of Henry VIII through our significant and unique collection. You can listen to the podcast here. Our thanks to Professor Lipscomb and Dr Cooper.

     

    Henry VIII (pale green background) (1491-1547)

    Save Burlington House

    We need your help!

    The Society has launched a campaign to contest the rapidly escalating rental rates set by Government, in order to remain at Burlington House – its home for over 140 years.

    A hub of discovery for the UK, the building houses thousands of unique artefacts, books, and works of art spanning centuries of human history, under the guardianship of the Society of Antiquaries. The result of nearly 300 years of acquisition, people come from all over the world to study the collections at Burlington House, where enthusiasts meet experts, and ideas are shaped in the Library and lecture room.

    Opening times update

    The Library is now open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 10-5pm.

    Please see information about visiting the Library for further information and to make an appointment (external researchers). Fellows do not need to book to use the Library, though we appreciate advanced notice for retrieving books in closed access and archival/manuscript material.

    Our event programme has been moved online and you can join us for our lectures, conferences and seminars by booking here. If you would like to support our event programme through a donation of any size please visit our support us page here.

    For updates about the Society’s operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, please see our latest news.

    Support our Events and Outreach Programme

    With the outbreak of the pandemic last year the Society moved its event programme online, launching new live streaming lectures in June 2020. Since then, we have delivered 10 lunchtime lectures and 16 evening lectures to Fellows and friends worldwide at no charge. This new way of engaging with audiences has allowed us to increase attendance at our lectures significantly, with views on YouTube increasing by 700% for our lunchtime lectures. A recent evening lecture on the Durrington Walls Project drew an audience of over 500 people with attendees joining us from ten different countries.

    This increase in audience has been surprising and extremely rewarding. We want to continue with this level of engagement on our return by offering all future lectures online as well as in person. Please support us in providing this free service by donating as little as the price of a cup of coffee. Your donation will help fund our events programme which delivers high quality content for our global audience. All you need to do is select a small donation when you book your ticket on our events pages or you can give any amount using our online donation portal here. A little gift will go a long way!

    Gifts of any amount are welcome!

    Click the button below to donate a gift of any size.

    Visiting & using our collections

    Planning to visit? Have a query? Read more about visiting and using our Library and Museum at Burlington House.

    Visit Kelmscott Manor

    Kelmscott Manor was the inspirational Cotswold retreat of William Morris, Victorian textile designer, poet, novelist & Father of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

    How to find us

    The Society is within a short walking distance of Piccadilly Circus and Green Park tube stations.

    Society of Antiquaries of London
    Burlington House
    Piccadilly
    London
    W1J 0BE

    Full visiting details