The Royal Institution

By Pameer Saeed (13O) and Alfie Mussett (13Y)

We visited the The Royal Institution in October 2013 to attend lectures given by physicists about their recent work.

The Royal Institution was founded in March 1799 with the aim of introducing new technologies and teaching science to the general public. The first meeting took place at Soho Square House where the then president of the Royal Society, Joseph Banks lived.


February 1743 – June 1820

The first president was George Finch, Earl of Winchilsea,_9th_Earl_of_Winchilsea


4 November 1752 – 2 August 1826

In July 1799 The Royal Institute moved to its current home, 21 Albemarle Street. Work began rapidly making the building into a fully functioning scientific institution with laboratories, lecture theatres, meeting rooms, libraries, and display areas as well as living quarters.

In January 1800 The Royal Institution was granted the Royal Charter.

Humphrey Davy was appointed Director of the Laboratory in 1801 and Professor of chemistry in 1802.


17 December 1778 – 29 May 1829

In 1810 the Ri was converted from a private organisation owned by a small number of Proprietors to a public institution by an Act of Parliament.

In March 1813 Michael Faraday was appointed Laboratory Assistant, in 1821 he was appointed Superintendent of the House in 1825 he became the Director of the Laboratory and in 1833 he became the first Fullerian Professor.


22 September 1791 – 25 August 1867

The Christmas Lectures began in 1825 and Faraday began the Friday Evening Discourses in 1826.


In 1837 the Royal Institution got a new façade.


Faraday giving the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 1856


A version of Faraday’s lecture desk still exists.


The above picture shows us (Alfie on the left and Pameer on the right) next to a statue of Michael Faraday. Michael Faraday is Mrs Hare’s hero. The statue was installed in 1876.

In 1862 the Royal Institute formally adopted research as one of its activities.

In 1897 J.J. Thomson announced the existence of the electron in a Friday Evening Discourse at the Royal Institution.


18 December 1856 – 30 August 1940

Ernest Rutherford was Professor of Natural Philosophy at the Royal Institution from 1921-1937. He won a Nobel Prize in 1908 for investigating radioactive substances and the disintegration of the elements.


30 August 1871 – 19 October 1937

In 1956 Schools lectures were established by Lawrence Bragg.


31 March 1890 – 1 July 1971

In December 1966 was the first televised Christmas Lectures and in 1973 the Faraday museum opened by the Queen.

In 2008 the L’Oreal Young Scientist centre was created and in 2009 the first Engineering Masterclasses were launched.

In 2011 The RI channel was launched.

image   image

The lecture theatre has more comfy seats than in the nineteenth century.

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