Updated 24th March 2020

The Society has been following Government advice on how to respond to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. On 16th March 2020, the Government changed its advice radically with regards to public travel and gatherings, work, and attendance at non-essential events. Since then, Government advice has urged even tighter restrictions n movement and work.

The tremendous uncertainty, which seems to deepen by the hour, has made any sort of planning extremely difficult. For the moment, we have looked as far ahead as September 2020, and taken the following action.

Burlington House, Piccadilly

  • All Society events (Ordinary Meetings, ballots, public lectures, conferences, public tours and the Summer Soiree) have been cancelled until September 2020.
  • Full refunds will be made to people who have bought tickets for any events.
  • The Anniversary Meeting (AGM) on 23rd April 2020 will be postponed. Presently we are looking at re-scheduling this for a date in September 2020.
  • The EGM that is necessary to amend and reform the statutes will also be delayed until September 2020 at the earliest.
  • All upcoming ballots have been postponed. The balloting system is still open on our website and we encourage Fellows to continue to take out Blue Papers.
  • The library will be closed until 7th September 2020.
  • The library staff had hoped to maintain a postal loans service but Government advice on travel, work and social distancing have made this impossible.
  • The summer exhibition, “’A house that I love’: William Morris and Kelmscott Manor” has been postponed, probably until sometime in 2021.
  • All events held at Burlington House by external organisations have been cancelled until September 2020.
  • Staff will be working remotely from home, but a small number will be attending Burlington House on a rota to deal with essential administrative duties and for care of the collections. This will be kept under constant review as Government advice develops.

Kelmscott Manor, Oxfordshire

The Manor is presently closed to visitors due to the repair and refurbishment works taking place as part of our National Lottery Heritage Fund sponsored Kelmscott Manor Past, Present and Future project. The work had been progressing better than planned, but as we write (24th March), our contractors have informed us that they are ceasing work with immediate effect for at least three weeks.

We had intended to allow limited opening to pre-booked visitors between Friday 17th July and 17th October 2020. However, it is now looking increasingly likely that the Manor will have to remain closed until the works are scheduled to be completed in Summer 2021. Even that milestone now looks as though it will slip to later in the calendar.

We must thank the Society’s staff at Burlington House and Kelmscott Manor who have risen to this challenge brilliantly and continue to work hard under difficult circumstances. We are very proud of them and the Society is lucky to have them.

Finally, we want to stress to Fellows that the Society will keep its response to the situation (in particular library opening) under constant review and will continue to respond in accordance with changing events. If things improve sooner than expected, then of course we will respond positively.

We will continue to keep the Fellowship informed through SALON, our website social media and email.

The Prime Minister has stressed that the country is facing a challenge which is unprecedented in peacetime. The Society’s response follows Government guidance and is aimed at minimising the risks to our Fellows, staff, volunteers and the public who visit our properties. Ultimately, it is the health and wellbeing of people that must be paramount.

We thank you for your patience and understanding and we wish everyone well in these very uncertain times.

John S.C. Lewis FSA
General Secretary
On behalf of the President and Trustees of the Society of Antiquaries of London