The Royal Society

1660-current, scientific learned society

The Royal Society was established after a group of scientists met at Gresham College after a lecture by Christopher Wren on the 28 November 1660, and decided to found a college for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematicall Experimentall Learning. The group was given its first Royal Charter in 1662 by King Charles II and by the second Royal Charter it would be known as 'The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge'.

The early years of the Society saw revolutionary advancements in the conduct and communication of science. Hooke’s Micrographia and the first issue of Philosophical Transactions were published in 1665. Following the Great Fire of London, in 1666, the society moved to Arundel House. Under the Presidency of Isaac Newton, the Society acquired its own home, two houses in Crane Court, off the Strand. In 1731 a new rule was established which said that each candidate for election had to be proposed in writing and had that written certificate signed by those who supported his candidature.

The society moved premises to Somerset House in 1780, Burlington House in Piccadilly in 1857, Carlton House Terrace, London in 1967 and the Society acquired Chicheley Hall, Buckinghamshire in 2010. Chicheley Hall was transformed into Kavli Royal Society International Centre which will provide a prestigious residential centre for holding internationally significant scientific conferences and offering opportunities for concentrated academic reflection.

Over time, the criteria for, and transparency of election to the Fellowship became stricter, and Fellows were elected solely on the merit of their scientific work from 1847. The government granted the Society £1,000 to assist scientists in their research and to buy equipment in 1850. The Society now allocates nearly £42 million each year from government grants and donations and legacies from organisations and individuals.

The Society has 8,000 Fellows elected to the Society to date.