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The A2R Blog

The Alternatives to Religion blog is 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.

Charlotte Payne-Townshend

“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 members of the Fabian Society, […]

Victorian Blogging – The Conway Tracts

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 London he steered his rationally […]

A short history of Conway Hall Ethical Society

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 what was to become a […]

Joseph McCabe and the Little Blue Books

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 Society has been resident in […]

The Seylers and South Place

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 and his family were deeply […]

Society dinners and events

This month focuses on a few photographs from dinners and social events held by some of our freethinking brethren and which are held in our archives.

Handbook of the Bazaar (1898)

This month’s document is a brochure to an event held at South Place in 1898 to raise funds to pay off the debt of the chapel.

Explore the History of Secularism, Humanism and Freethought!

After 18 months the Alternatives to Religion cataloguing project reaches its conclusion this week. The project has unearthed the histories of three influential non-theistic organisations, making their archives freely accessible for the first time.

“A centenary of trying to make people think”

In 1966 the National Secular Society celebrated 100 years of campaigning for the separation of religion and state. In the run-up to the anniversary they received numerous warm, funny and thought-provoking letters of support from the most influential figures of the day.

Family Planning Association Picket, 1961

This collection of photographs were taken during a protest against British Transport’s decision to remove Family Planning Association adverts from London Underground in 1961.

Next month will see the 181st birthday of Charles Bradlaugh

Next month will see the 181st birthday of Charles Bradlaugh, a committed atheist and political activist. Bradlaugh was the founder of the National Secular Society, bringing together localised secular societies to campaign for the separation of Church and State.

National Secular Society members in Nottingham on 5 June 1949

National Secular Society members in Nottingham on 5 June 1949 attending the Society’s Annual Conference.

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