Courtyard Societies

Nuggets – bite size chunks of London

The Courtyard Societies

Burlington House is a magnif­i­cent Piccadilly mansion completed in 1668 for Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Burlington, and subse­quently much altered. The govern­ment purchased Burlington House in 1854, allotting new wings to a group of learned insti­tu­tions that became known as the Courtyard Societies and the main building to the Royal Academy in 1867.

These are the five Courtyard Societies, going clockwise around the courtyard:

The Linnean Society of London is the world’s oldest active biolog­ical society. Founded in 1788, the society takes its name from the Swedish natu­ralist Carl Linnaeus, whose botanical, zoolog­ical and library collec­tions have been in its keeping since 1829. 

The Royal Astro­nom­ical Society began life in 1820 as the Astro­nom­ical Society of London and gained a royal charter in 1831. Its first permanent base was in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, then at Somerset House from 1834 until its move to Burlington House in 1874.

The Society of Anti­quaries of London was founded in 1717. According to its royal charter of 1751 the society’s aims are ‘the encour­age­ment, advance­ment and further­ance of the study and knowledge of the antiq­ui­ties and history of this and other countries.’ The society boasts the leading archae­o­log­ical library in the UK.

The Royal Society of Chemistry (library books shown below) was founded in 1841 as the Chemical Society. In 1980 the Chemical Society merged with the Royal Institute of Chemistry, the Faraday Society and the Society for Analyt­ical Chemistry to assume its present identity. It is the largest organ­i­sa­tion in Europe for advancing the chemical sciences.

The Geolog­ical Society was founded in 1807 at the Freema­sons’ Tavern in Covent Garden (where half the country’s most august insti­tu­tions first convened, as did the Football Asso­ci­a­tion). It is the oldest geolog­ical society in the world and has become a world leader in geoscience publishing.
Royal Society of Chemistry leather-bound library books