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Conway Hall - the landmark of London's independent intellectual, political and cultural life


Situated in Holborn, Conway Hall is owned by Conway Hall Ethical Society. The Society can trace its roots back to 1787, when a non-conformist congregation was established by Elhanan Winchester in rebellion against the Church’s doctrine of eternal hell.

Its most famous minister, anti-slavery advocate Moncure Conway, was appointed in 1864. He gradually moved the congregation away from the belief in God towards a more humanity-centred philosophy of life.

Elhanan Winchester (1751-1797)
Moncure Daniel Conway (1832 – 1907)

The Society moved from Bishopsgate in the City of London to its current premises on Red Lion Square, Holborn, in 1929. The building narrowly escaped being bombed during the Blitz.

Red Lion Square during the Blitz (1941)

Today, Conway Hall is renowned as a hub for free speech and independent thought. Attracting over 100,000 visitors per year, the venue hosts a variety of talks, art exhibitions, classes, performances and community events. Many of these are organised by the Guardian, New Scientist, New Statesman and Philosophy Now. At Conway Hall’s monthly London Thinks events, journalists, academics and artists join to debate contemporary issues. Recent speakers include physicist Prof Brian Cox, science writer Ben Goldacre and philosopher Peter Singer.

Conway Hall is also home to the world’s longest running chamber music series. Music has been an integral part of Conway Hall Ethical Society’s activities since 1887, when the Sunday Concerts series began. The ethos of “affordable classical music for all” still remains. The venue also features events by contemporary acts; recent performers include Mercury Prize winners La Roux and James Blake.

Prof Brian Cox, OBE
Ben Goldacre
Peter Singer
La Roux

Lastly, the building is home to Conway Hall Ethical Society's humanist library, which is the largest and most comprehensive humanist research resource of its kind in the UK. Open Tues – Thurs, the library features unique works, including the original draft of the famous hymn “Nearer, My God, to Thee”. This music was composed by two of the Society’s members, sisters Sarah Flower Adams and Eliza Flower, in 1840.

Original draft of by Sarah Flower Adams (1840)

Article written by Katie Jones, Digital Marketing Support, Conway Hall.