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Learned and Scientific Societies, Colleges, Schools, &c.

G. Learned and Scientific Societies, Colleges, Schools, &c.—London is very wealthy in the possession of societies formed for the encouragement of learning, art, science, and industry, many of which take high rank among the learned societies of the world, and some of which are in possession of ample endowments. A few of the more important are given here. First in dignity and importance, and admittedly the leading scientific society of Europe, is The Royal Society, which is located in Burlington House, Piccadilly. The germ of the society is to be found in the association of a few men of learning who met during the turmoil of the Civil War in the room over the gateway of Wadham College, Oxford, to discuss subjects relating to the physical and exact sciences. It was started as a society in 1660. and was incorporated by Charles II. in 1662, the first number of its " Philosophical Transactions " being published in 1665. Its first premises were in Crane Court, Fleet Street; it removed to Somerset House in 1780, to Burlington House in 1857, and the present offices were occupied in 1873. Ever since its institution the society has included among its members the greatest scientists of the land, honorary membership being freely accorded to distinguished foreigners. Its roll of members is now about 530, fifty of whom are foreign. The rooms of the society contain numerous busts of past presidents and many interesting and valuable portraits of eminent scientific men, with some scientific curiosities. The library, in addition to a complete set of the " Philosophical Transactions," contains over 40,000 volumes and 5000 MSS. Meetings of the members for the reading and discussion of scientific papers take place weekly from November to June. The Royal Academy of Arts, located in the same building, in addition to its exhibitions of pictures already noticed, fulfils important functions as an educational establishment. Teachers and professors of painting, sculpture, architecture, and anatomy are appointed by it; students are admitted to the schools for a first term of three years, and, on passing an examination, a second term of two years; and medals and prizes are annually awarded to successful students. The Geological Society in Burlington House was established in 1807 and incorporated in 1825. It has an interesting museum and library, publishes a quarterly journal, holds fortnightly meetings from November to June, and numbers about 1400 fellows. The Chemical Society was founded in 1841 and incorporated in 1848 " for the promotion of chemistry and of those branches of science connected with it." It holds meetings fortnightly from November to June, and publishes its " Transactions " monthly. The Society of Antiquaries was founded about 1572, but was not incorporated until 1717. Like the Royal Society it at one time held its meetings in Somerset House, but removed to Burlington House in 1874. It holds frequent meetings from November to June, possesses an excellent library, and its rooms contain some fine portraits and a few antiquities. The Royal Astronomical Society was founded in 1820 for the encouragement and promotion of astronomy, now numbers about 650 members, and publishes a series of memoirs and a monthly periodical. The Linncean Society, which is also lodged in Burlington House, was founded in 1788 for the study of botany and zoology, being named in honour of Linnaeus, the great Swedish naturalist. It removed from Soho Square to Burlington House in 1856; possesses a valuable library, which includes the books, MSS.) and herbarium of Linnaeus, and publishes its " Transactions " and " Journals " for circulation among its fellows. The Royal Geographical Society, founded in 1830 for the improvement of geographical knowledge, has its offices at No 1 Savile Row, Burlington Gardens, and holds its meetings in the theatre of the University of London once or twice in each month from November to June inclusive. The society possesses a fine collection of maps and a good geographical library. Another centre of learning is to be found in No. 21 Albemarle Street, Piccadilly, being the home of The Royal Institution, founded in 1799 by Count Rumford, Sir Joseph Banks, and others, to promote scientific and literary research, to teach the principles of inductive and experimental science, to exhibit the application of those principles to the various arts of life, and to afford opportunities for study. It was connected more or less intimately with the labours of Humphrey Davy, Faraday, Tyndall, and other eminent men, and it has had considerable influence over the formation of many kindred associations. It comprises two laboratories for the promotion of chemical and physical science, a model-room, a library of about 50,000 volumes, and reading and newspaper rooms. Lectures are delivered weekly during the season on chemical science, philosophy, physiology, literature, art, &c., and weekly meetings are held every Friday during the session. The next house, No 22 Albemarle Street, is the home of The Royal Asiatic Society, founded in 1823 for the advancement of the knowledge of Asiatic literature, &c. It has a valuable library, and its meetings are held monthly from November to June. Its rooms are also used for the meetings of the Aristotelian, Folk-Lore, Hellenic, Mathematical, and Numismatic Societies. The Society of Arts, whose rooms are in John Street, Adelphi, was founded in 1754, incorporated by royal charter in 1847, and has numbered many illustrious men among its presidents. The Prince Consort was one of them, and the society under his auspices originated the Great Exhibition of 1851. It holds a session commencing in November and ending in June, during which from 70 to 80 meetings are held; delivers three or more courses of lectures, which are given under a bequest of the late Dr Cantor, with a very interesting course of six Juvenile lectures during the Christmas holidays, and publishes a weekly journal. Its lecture-hall is adorned by six paintings by Barry illustrative of the progress of civilization. The Physical Society, founded in 1874, numbers among its members most of the leading physicists of the United Kingdom, and holds its meetings in the physical lecture-room of the Royal College of Science, South Kensing-ton, fortnightly from November to June. The Royal Botanic Society of London was incorporated in 1839 by royal charter for the promotion of botany in all its branches, and it holds about 20 acres of land, forming the inner circle of Eegent's Park, under a lease from the Crown. The gardens are beautifully laid out, and the society possesses also a good. library and museum. It issues tickets to artists and students, and arranges exhibitions of plants and fruits at stated periods during the spring and summer. There are also " musical promenades " in May, June, and July, which are open to members. The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 for the promotion of scientific gardening. Its gardens were formerly in the centre of the block of land S of the Albert Hall, now occupied by the Imperial Institute and the New Road, but are now at Chiswick. It holds fortnightly meetings, and arranges for exhibitions during the season. The Heralds' College, or the College of Arms, is a very ancient institution, of great importance in the days of chivalry, but somewhat out of date at the present day. It received its first charter of incorporation from Richard III., and since 1622 it has consisted of three kings-at-arms—Garter, Clarencieux, and Norroy; six heralds—Somerset, York, Chester, Eichmond, Windsor, and Lancaster; and four pursuivants — Eouge Croix, Blue Mantle, Portcullis, and Blue Dragon, the Duke of Norfolk being Hereditary Earl-Marshall. At the present day the main object of the corporation is to make out and preserve the pedigrees and armorial bearings of noble and great families, to determine doubtful questions respecting the derivation and value of arms, and to grant arms under certain conditions to families recently risen to wealth and distinction. The college occupies buildings planned by Sir Christopher Wren and erected on the site of an old town house of the Earls of Derby in Queen Victoria Street, E.C. The rooms contain many objects of interest, but are not open to the public. Other societies are:—The Froebel Society, which directs the kindergarten system of education in England, Buckingham Street, Strand, The Royal Archaeological Institute in Oxford Mansions, Oxford Street, The Royal Art School of Needlework in Exhibition Road, South Kensington, The Society of Biblical Archaeology in Great Russell Street, W, The School of Electric Engineering and Submarine Telegraphy, The Royal Institute of British Architects, The Institution of Civil Engineers, The Sanitary Institute of Great Britain, The Statistical Society, and The Veterinary College.

Passing next to the consideration of the colleges and schools of the metropolis we notice as first in importance The University of London, the buildings of which are situated in Burlington Gardens, Piccadilly, and form a very handsome edifice, which was opened in 1870. The University owes its establishment to the formation of what was at first called the London University, and is now University College, London, and the foundation of King's College, London. In order to promote the objects of these schools it was found necessary that a body should be formed with the power and means of examining the students and the right of conferring degrees. The original charter given by King William IV. was a temporary one. Queen Victoria, in the first year of her reign, revoked it and granted a new one; additional powers were given in 1850, a wholly new charter in 1858, and the charter now in force, superseding all others, bears date 6 January, 1863. A supplemental charter in 1868 gave the governing body the power to hold special examinations for women, and another in 18 78 to grant to women any degrees or certificates of proficiency which they have the power to grant»to men. The reasons for this succession of charters was that experience gradually suggested changes in the organization. One of the most natural of these was that when a body of London University graduates had once been formed it was found necessary to admit them to some share in the government of the university of which they were the offspring. Accordingly the university now consists of a chancellor, vice-chancellor, a senate of thirty-six fellows, and the body of graduates. The chancellor, vice-chancellor, and fellows really rule, and make whatever fresh changes from time to time the charter has left to their discretion; but the graduates in convocation have a deliberative power on all matters concerning the university, and also a certain power in the nomination of new members of the senate. With all these changes the university still remains essentially what it was in the first instance—not a teaching body, nor a body growing out of or representing any group of teaching bodies, like the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and those of Scotland, but simply an institution for ascertaining by means of examination those persons in any part of the British dominions who have acquired proficiency in literature, science, and art, and of rewarding them by academical degrees. The Queen is the visitor, and to the Crown is reserved the power of from time to time appointing a number of fellows in turn with convocation. The chancellor is also appointed by the Crown. The office of vice-chancellor is an annual one, and is filled by election by the fellows from their own body. The Reform Act of 1867 conferred on the university the privilege of sending a member to represent it in the House of Commons. The executive officer of the senate is the registrar. An examination for degrees must be held once a year at least. The candidates are examined in as many branches of general knowledge as the senate shall consider most fitting, in short, in every subject of a liberal or professional education—excluding only theology. The examiners are appointed by the senate, either from their own body or otherwise. The senate confers, after examination, the degrees of bachelor of arts, master of arts, bachelor and doctor of laws, of science, of medicine, of music, doctor of literature, master in surgery, &c. It must be evident that in an institution such as the one under notice — which is, in fact, nothing but a first-class examining body empowered to grant degrees—everything must depend upon the examiners; and the highest functions of the senate are the election of these gentlemen and the discussion with them from time to time of the proper methods and subjects of examination. The examiners are appointed but for a limited term, so that there may always be a reinforcement among them of fresh men. The present body of examiners includes men of the highest distinction, some of them graduates of the university itself, others of Oxford, Cambridge, or Dublin, or one or other of the Scottish universities, and that the examinations have ever been of a very superior quality is proved by the value everywhere set on a London degree.

University College, in Gower Street, was founded as the " University of London" in 1828, largely through the exertions of Lord Brougham, to afford to students of all religious denominations the means of obtaining a high educational training at a moderate cost, and of acquiring a university degree. At this time the older universities were closed to all but Church of England students. The first " University of London " was therefore both college and university, on the model of Trinity College, Dublin. But when in 1837 the present University of London was founded, the older foundation took rank as the principal college, a distinction it has always since maintained. The edifice is 400 feet in length, has a dodecastyle Corinthian portico, and is surmounted by a handsome dome. It contains numerous lecture-rooms, a museum, and some useful laboratories, the last of which, for electrical experiments, was added in 1893. The college is divided into faculties of arts, laws, science, and medicine. The faculty of science includes the Indian school, the department of applied science and technology, and the SIade School of Fine Arts. There are about forty professors smd 1600 students. The latter pay about .£30,000 in fees every year, and the whole institution is maintained without Government aid. In connection with University College are University College School, Gower Street, for scholars between the ages of nine and sixteen, and the University College Hospital, also in Gower Street, where from 30,000 to 40,000 patients are annually treated by the medical professors of the college. King's College, in the Strand, occupying a portion of Somerset House, is an institution founded in 1828 for the purpose of combining religious and secular instruction. Unlike the Gower Street institution it is strictly denominational, all the professors, except the professor of Oriental languages, being members of the Church of England. On this account, after many debates from time to time, the House of Commons in 1894 resolved to discontinue the subsidy up till then paid to King's College from the national funds. The work of the college is carried on in the departments of theology, general literature, engineering, medicine, and preparation for the Civil Service. There is a separate department for ladies. Rooms are provided within the college for a limited number of matriculated -students. A school, called King's College School, for lads from nine to sixteen, is attached, as is also King's College Hospital, in Portugal Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, founded in 1839, and now one of the most important hospitals of London. The College of Preceptors confers a diploma, but does not teach further than by providing occasional courses of lectures and opportunities for discussion. It occupies a house of red brick, with facings of Portland stone, in Bloomsbury Square, which was opened by the Prince of Wales in 1887. The City and Guilds of London Institute has its central office in Exhibition Road, South Kensington, where it occupies a large building, erected at a cost of about .£100,000, contributed by the corporation and livery companies of London. The building consists mainly of laboratories and workshops, admirably equipped with apparatus and tools, and it provides accommodation for about 200 students. There are several valuable exhibitions connected with this institute, and there are also conjoined with it a Technical College, in Finsbury, E.C., a Technical Art School, in Kennington Park Road, and a Leather Trades School, in Bethnal Green Road. Gresham College is not a college in the modern sense of the term— it is only a lecture-room. Sir Thomas Gresham left an endowment for an annual series of lectures, and residences and stipends for the lecturers. The charity was greatly misused during |the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Public attention having been called to the subject, a new lecture-hall was built a few years ago at the comer of Basinghall and Gresham Streets out of the accumulated fund, and lectures are delivered here at certain periods of each year. The subjects are divinity, physics, astronomy, geometry, law, rhetoric, and music. The lectures take place in the evening in English ; they are freely open to the public, and the lecture ball is usually crowded. Some efforts have been made to utilise the valuable endowments of this college in connection with the formation of a teaching university of London, and the university extension work (central courses of the London Society) has for some years been carried on here. The college trust is controlled by a joint Grand Gresham Committee, consisting half of members of the Mercers' Company (Gresham's old company), and half of members appointed by the corporation of the city. The National Art Training Schools, at South Kensington, are maintained by the state as the centre of a national system for the promotion of art and science schools, which are established in all parts of the kingdom. The annual session consists of two terms, each lasting five months, and commencing on the 1 March and the first Wednesday in October. The schools were established in 1852, and they are controlled and regulated by the Lord President and Committee of Council on Education. The Royal College of Science, at South Kensington, occupies a handsome square building of brick and terra-cotta, in the Italian style, facing Exhibition Road. The college is the outcome of the organisation into one body of two systems of state instruction relating to technical education—viz., the Royal School of Mines and the Normal School of Science. It affords to students a thorough training in the general principles of science, geology, metallurgy, and applied mechanics, followed by advanced instruction in one or more of its special branches. Instruction in mining only is still given at the old institution in Jermyn Street. The course of instruction in the college lasts three years, and there are two terms, commencing in October and February. The administration of the college is in the hands of a council, consisting of the professors, a dean, a chairman, and a registrar.

London is now very well provided with institutions giving instruction in music, the foremost being the famous Royal Academy of Music, founded in 1822 by the Earl of Westmorland, and now located at 4 and 5 Tenterden Street, Hanover Square. All branches of music are taught at the academy, and students may choose any one for their principal study; it possesses a number of useful scholarships, and it awards a long list of prizes and medals for proficiency in every branch of musical art. The reputation of the academy stands very high, and its successful students are justly proud of the distinction conferred by the letters R.A.M. Another important institution is the Royal College of Music, in Kensington Gore. It was incorporated by royal charter in 1883, and owed its origin very largely to the Prince of Wales. It has a staff of eleven professors and over thirty teachers, the pupils being of both sexes, consisting of scholars and students, some being exhibitioners. Although a comparatively new institution, it has already done excellent service in the cause of musical education. It joins with the Royal Academy in providing annual local examinations in many branches of music at several centres all over England. The Guildhall School of Music occupies a fine building on the Victoria Embankment, which was erected by the Corporation of London in 1886 at a cost of £22,000. It was established by the corporation for the purpose of providing the highest form of instruction in the art and science of music at a reasonable and moderate cost. It possesses a highly efficient staff of professors and teachers, and several exhibitions, which are offered for annual competition. It chiefly differs from the older coUege from not insisting upon a course of study, but allowing students to take no one subject alone if they choose to do so.

Among the schools of the great metropolis the most celebrated is the Westminster School, or St Peter's College of Westminster. It was founded originally in the time of Edward the Confessor, was remodelled by the Norman kings and refounded by Elizabeth, and has educated some of our greatest scholars and statesmen. When refounded by Elizabeth in 1560 it was to consist of a dean, twelve prebendaries, twelve almsmen, and forty Queen's Scholars, with a master and usher. It now contains in addition to the forty Queen's Scholars about 200 other scholars, and it possesses some very valuable scholarships, benefactions, and exhibitions. The school stands in Little Dean's Yard, near the western entrance to the abbey, the abbey itself being used as the chapel of the school, and Vincent Square as the playground. -St Paul's School was founded in 1512 by John Colet, D.D., Dean of St Paul's, for the education of " poor men's children," but like many others of the older schools, its benefits have not been conferred so fully as they ought to have been on the class designated. The school is now located in Hammersmith Road, West Kensington. It has 153 scholars on the foundation, with others who pay about £25 a year. The governors of this school are appointed by the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and London, and by the Mercers' Company, and it has a large number of valuable exhibitions. The school since its removal has taken rank as amongst the foremost of our great English public schools. The Charterhouse School, formerly near Aldersgate Street, is part of a charity established by Thomas Sutton in 1611. There is an hospital or almshouse for about eighty " poor brethren," men who have seen better days. The school was removed to Godalming, Surrey, in 1871, the former building having been purchased for the Merchant Taylors' School. Christs Hospital, or the Bluecoat School, as it is commonly called from the colour of the boys' dress, was situated within an enclosure on the north side of Newgate Street, and is one of the most splendid among the charitable foundations of London, its revenues amounting to about £55,000 per annum. A new scheme for the better use of these great endowments has received the approval of the Charity Commissioners, making alterations in the governing body and increasing the number of scholars to about 2200, of whom 1000 will be day scholars. There will be a large increase in the number of girl scholars, and the main school will be removed to the country. The girls' school, and the junior school for the smaller boys, have always been at Hertford. The Merchant Taylors1 School was founded in 1561 by the Merchant Taylors' Company. The school was removed in 1875 to the buildings of the Charterhouse. About 500 boys are educated, and there are numerous fellowships at St John's College, Oxford, open to the scholars. Mercers' Free Grammar School, in College Hill, is a small establishment of a similar kind. The City of London School, in an exceedingly handsome building on the Thames Embankment, was originally founded in Milk Street in 1835, and forms a useful medium between the old grammar schools and the modem private schools; it possesses several exhibitions for the more successful senior scholars. The Middle Class Education Corporation was established in 1866 to provide a liberal education for the sons of clerks in city offices, and other persons of the same class, at the charge of one guinea a quarter. Upwards of 1000 boys are under training at the Central School at Cowper Street, City Road, and several similar schools have been established.

The City of London College is an educational establishment which had its origin in the Metropolitan Evening Classes for Yonng Men, founded in 1848 at Crosby Hall, Bishopsgate. In 1860 it was removed to Leadenhall Street, and in 1882 to White Street, Moorfields. The present building, erected at a cost of about £15,000, has accommodation for about 4000 students. Under the City of London Parochial Charities Act a scheme was devised whereby the City of London College became a constituent institute of the City Polytechnic, which comprises in addition the Birkbeck and Northampton Institutions, and receives an annual grant of £1000 out of the city parochial funds. Evening classes for instruction in a great variety of subjects are also held at the various buildings of the Young Men's Christian Association, at the Polytechnic Young Men's Christian Institute, at the People's Palace, the Working Men's College, at some of the parochial free libraries, and in connection with many of the board schools. With respect to elementary education, the work was left for the most part to the National, British, and the Nonconformist Voluntary Schools until 1870, when under the provisions of the Education Act a school board was elected for London, consisting of forty-eight representatives from the various districts. The board first elected was a very strong one, including as it did persons of the highest eminence and ability; but the first was also the best, and there has been a sad falling off in quality during subsequent years. As the result of a somewhat lavish outlay, the board has now in operation over 400 schools, accommodating about 450,000 children, the average gross annual cost per scholar being about £310s. The salaries paid by the board are sufficient to attract the best available talent among elementary school teachers, and the average percentage of passes in the three primary subjects is higher in the London Board Schools than the average in all schools in England and Wales. The offices of the board occupy a costly building on the Victoria Embankment. Next in number and importance to the schools under the board are the National Schools, under the management of the Church of England, of which there are over 200. The Roman Catholic elementary schools number about sixty-five, and there are twelve British, eight Wesleyan, and eight Ward schools. Of private schools there are upwards of 300. Some idea of the number of the colleges, high schools, and elementary and private schools of the metropolis may be gained from the fact that the list takes up over forty columns of Kelly's great "Post Office Directory of London."

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5


Last Updated: 20th November 2010