Welcome to the Society of Antiquaries
Based in the heart of London, we are the centre of antiquarian learning, discovery and community. As a royal learned society, our Fellows have been inspiring scholarship, debate and research for over 300 years. More recently, we have welcomed enthusiasts such as Affiliates and the general public to share in our journey to understand the past and its relevance today.
In addition to our premises at the beautiful Burlington House, the Society of Antiquaries also owns Kelmscott Manor, the former home of William Morris and his family. William Morris was a hugely influential craftsman, designer, writer, environmentalist, socialist and much more. He is commonly referred to as the Father of the Arts & Crafts Movement and in his early years was associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
The Council is the governing body and sets the strategy. The professional teams at both Burlington House and Kelmscott Manor are responsible for delivering the strategy.
What is an Antiquary?
We are grateful to Fellows Rosemary Sweet, Emma Carver and John Cooper, who in 2019 tackled this question.
The term ‘antiquary’ first appeared in England in the sixteenth century, and referred to anyone who studied or collected the textual or material remains of the past. By the time of the Society’s foundation in 1707 this definition still held, and the Society’s membership encompassed remarkably diverse interests.
Today archaeologists, historians, anthropologists and art historians all fall within the sphere of the antiquarian project, unified by their curiosity in the human journey through time. The ambition to preserve and record the past that prompted the Society’s first founders has grown to sustain our modern heritage sector, and so our membership includes archivists, curators, conservators and other heritage professionals.