Conway Hall will be opening its doors as part of Open House weekend, Saturday 21 to Sunday 22 September. From 10:00 until 16:00 both days you’ll be able to join hourly tours and learn about the history of our Society and the building itself.
The story of Conway Hall Ethical Society dates back to 1787 with a freethinking nonconformist congregation, based in a small chapel in east London. This was the beginnings of what was to become a society of radicals and social and political reformers, devoted to freethought. There is no other Society in the United Kingdom, possibly the globe, that has such a long history dedicated to creating a fairer, more equal world through free religious thought and ethical enquiry.
This year, Open House coincides with the 90th anniversary of the opening of our building. Conway Hall was built in 1929 as the new headquarters for the Society and sits on one of the leafy squares of Bloomsbury, away from the hubbub of High Holborn. The building itself is quirky and off-centre (due in part to the irregular ground plan imposed by the site it inhabits). Built during the Art Deco period there are nods towards this style, however the use of wood throughout the building and especially in the atmospheric library, evoke the craftsmanship of the earlier Arts and Crafts movement.
Please be aware that Conway Hall remains open for business over the weekend so we will be working around various other activities. This will give you a real insight into how our building is used today, but may limit which spaces can be shown. Whether you see us at our most bustling or most solitudinous, we hope you will enjoy the experience.
Conway Hall is committed to promoting inclusive practice. However, due to the constraints of our historic building, there is currently no step-free access to the upper floors, including the Library. See our access information for further detail.
“Sunday, 1 September, 1929, is a memorable date in the history of the South Place Ethical Society, for on that morning its members met for the first time in Conway Hall. It was a moment of joyful excitement. At last the new home was ready for occupation and here we were in it, congratulating one another on the event. The spaciousness of the vestibule was a pleasant surprise to everyone, and the first glimpse of the main hall confirmed the impression of dignity and beauty that met one as one entered. And the furniture and decoration set off the character of unaffected modernity that speaks in the design.” – The Ethical Record, October 1929.