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This debate has been called to spotlight the struggle of the five learned societies currently housed in Burlington House to remain there after rent increases.
The five learned societies (or the Courtyard Societies) are:
- The Linnean Society of London;
- The Royal Astronomical Society;
- The Society of Antiquaries;
- The Royal Society of Chemistry; and
- The Geological Society.
This struggle was highlighted first by the Society of Antiquaries, who launched a campaign to remain at Burlington House after a 3100% increase in rent from 2012 to 2021.
Their president, Paul Drury, has claimed that:
… relocation represents a major threat to the continued existence of the society in its current form. Leaving Burlington House would require the prohibitively costly process of replicating the infrastructure to house its unique collections elsewhere, while moving fragile historical items en masse is a huge and extremely costly undertaking in itself…
… An almost unthinkable yet looming scenario is that the society may have to sell items from its collection to fund new premises in order to appropriately house the rest of its artefacts.
Since then, the Geological Society and Linnean Society have joined the campaign to remain at Burlington House.
An open letter to the Government, published in the Telegraph, has urged “an affordable solution before it is too late.” This letter has attracted signatures from multiple public figures in fields related to the Courtyard Societies, including both MPs and Peers.
Calls to ‘Save Burlington House’
The Society of Antiquaries – Save BH – Society of Antiquaries of London (sal.org.uk)
The Linnean Society – Save Burlington House | The Linnean Society
The Geological Society – The Geological Society (geolsoc.org.uk)