The Royal Society is a Fellowship of the world’s most eminent scientists and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. Founded in the 1660s, it is the national academy of science in the United Kingdom. The Fellowship is drawn from all areas of science, engineering and medicine. Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin have been past Fellows; Stephen Hawking is a current Fellow.
Its official foundation date is 28 November 1660, when a group of 12 met at Gresham College after a lecture by Christopher Wren, then the Gresham Professor of Astronomy, and decided to found ‘a Colledge for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematicall Experimentall Learning’. This group included Wren himself, Robert Boyle, John Wilkins, Sir Robert Moray, and William, Viscount Brouncker. In 1710, under the Presidency of Isaac Newton, the Society acquired its own premises.
The Society’s fundamental purpose, reflected in its founding Charters of the 1660s, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.
The Society has played a part in some of the most fundamental, significant, and life-changing discoveries in scientific history and Royal Society scientists continue to make outstanding contributions to science in many research areas.
A major activity of the Society is identifying and supporting the work of outstanding scientists. The Society supports researchers through its early and senior career schemes, innovation and industry schemes, and other schemes. The Society’s share of the income from ReInventing Space 2014 goes towards this support.
The Society facilitates interaction and communication among scientists via its discussion meetings, and disseminates scientific advances through its journals. The Society also engages beyond the research community, through independent policy work, the promotion of high quality science education and communication with the public.
Carlton House Terrace is the Royal Society’s fifth home.
Carlton House was located on part of the former Royal Garden of St James’s Palace, roughly where Pall Mall and Waterloo Place now intersect. Henry Boyle, who became Lord Carlton in 1714, leased the land from the Crown and built a house and gardens overlooking St James’s Park. These were subsequently acquired by George, Prince of Wales, on his coming of age in 1783. As Prince Regent, George spent huge sums of money on the house, which was intended to form the southern end of the great Regent Street development by the architect John Nash.
Nash’s design for the two blocks of Carlton House Terrace is based on a Roman classical style, with Corinthian columned facades overlooking the Park, supported on a podium with sturdy Doric columns on the Mall at basement level and a terrace above. The buildings at either end of the two blocks have an additional full fourth storey to create a pavilion effect, and each block has a central pediment with stucco scrollwork. The overall effect is of a sweeping “processional” accompaniment to the Mall, which links Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace.
For the benefits of Reinventing Space attendees, rarely-seen artefacts from the Society’s incredible scientific heritage will be on display. These include items from the 1769 commission to send James Cook upon his first trip along with astronomer Charles Green and naturalist Daniel Solander to observe the transit of Venus.