Society of Antiquarians of London
Home | Introduction | The Discovery of Britain | Collecting for Britain | The Art of Recording 
Making Local History: Lincolnshire | Staffordshire and West Midlands | The North East | Wiltshire
Timeline | Roll Chronicle | Exhibition venues 

The Society today

The Society of Antiquaries of London continues the mission of its 1751 Royal Charter to ‘encourage, advance and further the study and knowledge of the antiquities and history of this and other countries’. Today the Fellowship of the Society of Antiquaries numbers some 2,700 individuals spread around the United Kingdom, Europe and the world. Fellows’ work in the fields of archaeology, art and architectural history, material culture studies, museology, heraldry, archival research, conservation and cultural resource management, and serve in senior positions in universities, museums, libraries, archives, professional bodies, local authorities, national heritage agencies, as well as in private practice. As an independent charity and leading learned society in its sector, the Society is uniquely placed to encourage and facilitate public debate on the management, conservation, presentation and the wider understanding of the cultural heritage. The Society has Registered museum status for its collections at Burlington House and also for Kelmscott Manor in Oxfordshire, the former country home of William Morris, Fellow, pioneer conservationist and founder of the English Arts and Crafts movement.

The touring exhibition Making History. 300 Years of Antiquaries in Britain, is adapted from an original exhibition hosted at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, between September and December 2007 in celebration of the Society’s tercentenary. The tour is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Opening in Salisbury in October 2008, the tour moves to Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and to Lincoln, where it closes in December 2009. Full details of the touring schedule and associated public programme can be found at

Curators David Gaimster and Julia Steele (Society of Antiquaries of London)
Guest Curator David Starkey CBE
Project Consultants Darya Feuerstein, Alex Patterson and David Prince (PRC Ltd)
Design and installation Mike Stiff and Christian Hagan (Stiff+Trevillion Architects LLP)
Web design Spiral Productions

The Society of Antiquaries of London is grateful to Her Majesty’s Government for agreeing to indemnify this exhibition under the National Heritage Act 1980, and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council for its help in arranging the indemnity.

All images © Society of Antiquaries of London, unless stated otherwise

Making History: 300 Years of Antiquaries in Britain

This touring exhibition explores the making of the national heritage over three hundred years since the foundation in 1707 of the first body concerned with the study of the past and its preservation. The first meeting in a London tavern of the Society of Antiquaries marked a defining moment in the public consciousness of the importance of antiquity in an industrializing Britain. Making History examines the contribution of the Society and antiquaries around the country to the formation of our current appreciation of the past. Through artefacts, monuments and the biographies of leading antiquaries, it reveals how new discoveries, technologies and interpretations have transformed that understanding, from a time when it was based largely on myth and Christian belief, and how they continue to change our perceptions today. By linking the collections of the Society of Antiquaries with those of the host museum, the narrative illustrates milestones in the discovery, recording, preservation, interpretation and communication of our past, both nationally and regionally.

Originally collected at a time before the foundation of national collections, the antiquities, historic books, drawings, manuscripts and paintings of the Society of Antiquaries of London form a timeline for British history. On tour for the first time in celebration of the Society’s tercentenary, they include historic treasures of international importance, records of lost buildings and objects, and an extraordinary collection of English royal portraits from Edward IV to Henry VIII.

Visit another section in the Making History exhibition:

Introduction | The Discovery of Britain 
Collecting for Britain | The Art of Recording 
Making Local History:
Lincolnshire | Staffordshire and West Midlands | The North East | Wiltshire
Timeline | Roll Chronicle | Exhibition venues 

or visit the Society of Antiquaries of London home page