Conway Hall will be opening its doors as part of Open House weekend, Saturday 16 to Sunday 17 September. From 10:00 until 17:00 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 and a nonconformist congregation rebelling against the doctrine of eternal damnation. This group of freethinking individuals, based in a small chapel on the eastern edge of London, 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.
Our current home, 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 which at certain times will mean the building is rather busy and will 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, the upper floors, including the Library, are not currently accessible to wheelchair users or people with limited mobility. ]
“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.