From the Archives Blog

From the Archives allows us in the Humanist Library and Archives to share some of our wonderful items and our learning with you!

It also includes entries from the former A2R (Alternatives to Religion) blog, a collaborative project between Conway Hall and Bishopsgate Institute which sparked exploration of some of the ways people have tried to make sense of the world and live together ethically without the need for faith in a God or gods. The key themes linking this broad movement are Freethought, Ethics, Humanism, Rationalism and Secularism. Material for these entries came from the British Humanist Association, The National Secular Society and Conway Hall Ethical Society. Posts were written by archivists, Nicky Hilton and Carl Harrison.

Conway Hall’s library and archive collections bring together the words of many progressive individuals, but the phrase ‘a man ahead of his time’ has never been more fitting than when used to describe Edward Carpenter. The poet, writer and socialist promoted gay rights at a time when homosexuality was a…

“She knows the value of her unencumbered independence” (George Bernard Shaw) Charlotte Payne-Townshend (1857-1943) was an Irish heiress and a political activist.  She married the playwright George Bernard Shaw in 1898 at the registry office in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden. The economists and social reformers Beatrice and Sidney Webb, early…

View Charlotte Payne-Townshend

Thu, 24th May, 2018

The 8th May 2018 marks ten years since the blasphemy laws were abolished in England and Wales through the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, following hundreds of years of campaigning. The offence of blasphemy has its roots in late medieval canon law, which allowed ‘heretics’ to be imprisoned and burnt to death under…

Dr. Moncure Conway (1832–1907) was an American, after whom Conway Hall is named. He settled in South Place Chapel from 1864 until 1897 with a break (1885-1892) when he returned to the United States to write his definitive biography of Thomas Paine and edit his letters. During his ministry in…

In light of the recent centenary of the Representation of the People Act, which granted all property-owning British women over 30 the right to vote for the first time, we have been looking into our links with the women’s suffrage movement. Given Conway Hall’s long history of association with London’s most radical…

Having begun working at Conway Hall as Digitisation Coordinator for the Victorian Blogging digitisation project at the end of last year, I am already experiencing the full array of goings on here and enjoying the early stages of the project. My interest in this project stems from my background in studying both…

Beginnings The story of Conway Hall Ethical Society dates back to 1787 and a nonconformist congregation, led by Elhanan Winchester, rebelling against the doctrine of eternal damnation. This group of freethinking individuals, based in a small chapel on the eastern edge of London (Parliament Court Chapel), was the beginnings of…

Today, Conway Hall in Red Lion Square, Bloomsbury, has received £88,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, Victorian Blogging – The Pamphleteers Who Dared to Dream of a Better World.

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Conway Hall is a purpose built building designed by F. Herbert Mansford, a member of the South Place Ethical Society (now called Conway Hall Ethical Society), and built in 1928-29. It contains capacious basements that provide a large amount of space for storage. Over the 80 plus years that the…

Often archive inquiries can lead you down interesting paths and this was the case with an inquiry we received last year. A researcher asked for information regarding Clarence Heinrici Seyler (1840-1906), father to the actress Athene Seyler, while attempting to discover what connection Clarence had with the researcher’s grandfather. Clarence…

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