Our events and visits are open to all unless specified and we hope non-members will enjoy our programme and consider joining the Society.  To book events and read further details, please go to our Eventbrite page   CLICK HERE.

If you do not wish to book online, please contact us and we will be happy to make your booking.

ONGOING !  The Duck Island/Thorney Island Society Project, St James's Park     This exciting new collaboration with the park is calling for volunteers from TTIS to help restore and revitalise Duck Island. If you are interested in helping clear brambles and paths, raking and tidying the meadow area and lake edges, making log and deadwood piles, sorting and documenting artefacts in the barn or helping in the cottage garden, please get in touch to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or post us a note to TTIS, 10 Old Pye Street, SW1P 2DG

Tuesday 25th September, 1.30pm

Tour of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries, Westminster Abbey, SW1P 3PA   £15pp.  Opened to the public on the 11th June, we will be given a private introduction to this exciting much anticipated new exhibition space and museum. MEMBERS ONLY.  NO MEMBERS GUESTS AT THIS TIME PLEASE.  SOLD OUT

Tuesday 13th November, 6.30pm

The Society's 32nd AGM & Talk, Grange Rochester Hotel, 69 Vincent Square, SW1P 2PA (entrance in Vane Street) With the generous support of Grange Hotels 

Tuesday 11th December, 6.30pm

The Society's Christmas Party, Grange Rochester Hotel, 69 Vincent Square, SW1P 2PA (entrance in Vane Street) £14pp.  With the generous support of Grange Hotels.



 

We were privileged to be taken on the first ever official tour of The Church House, Westminster, the headquarters of the Anglican church - temporal and spiritual, which sits proudly between Dean’s Yard and Great Smith Street.

We soon learned of a special link between us as when Church House acquired buildings on the Abbey side of Great Smith Street to build their new HQ, they demolished the public library and moved it to the other side of the road. This is the 1893 public library that was saved by a campaign group in 1985 which then became The Thorney Island Society.

Our host, Chris Palmer, chief executive of The Church House, gave us a fascinating tour of the building, starting on the outside, where Tufton Street meets Great College Street, he pointed out the equisite flintwork of the building.  Amongst the flints were notched stones from a pile of 14th century stones found in the Abbey ditch when the nearby gatehouse was excavated. Some stones also contained traces of fossils and builders’s personal trade marks.  I was lucky enough to also view in the basement almost immediately beneath the wall, remains of a pillar in situ believed to be part of the ancient gatehouse leading onto Thorney Island and dating back to the 14th century.  At first glance you would miss the intriguing images within the flint, a dove to represent the name of the builders and a partridge for a dignitary of that name, a cottage loaf, an eye, a wheel, an 'N' and there must be more !

 

Our visit took in the beautiful oak and marble (sourced from all over the UK) chapel to the large circular hall which has held over 600 people and survived a bomb during the Second World War so well that Churchill took it over as an alternative site for the House of Commons.  It was here that the first meeting of the United Nations took place after the war, the preliminary meetings prior to the Nuremburg War Trials and where numerous inquiries have been held including the Brixton Riots, the Kings Cross Fire and leaks of information from the Bank of England.  It now uses some of the most modern hi-tec audio-visual equipment for global and local conferences amit beautiful plaster icons on the walls representing Anglican communities around the world.

We are very grateful to Chris Palmer for this memorable visit.

 

 Visit to The Church House - August 2018

London historian Victor Keegan told the extraordinary story of how Old Pye Street, Westminster and its surrounds (seen here in Gustave Doré’s etching) - were so depraved that Dickens dubbed them The Devil’s Acre.  Following his own recent research, Victor compared old etchings and drawings to some of the buildings and streets we know so well. A fascinating snapshot of extreme poverty and the change that George Peabody and others contributed to the area.

 

 

Our visit to Westminster School proved so popular we had to split it into two. There was so much to see, such as the huge hall, known simply as 'School' which was once the monk’s dormitory and Headmaster Dr Busby's Library.  The highlight though was Ashburnham House, a building teeming with history. Once the London home of the Earls of Ashburnham, it was acquired by the school in 1882. 

You get a hint of its past as you go through the front door and see a picture of Elizabeth I, a patron of the school, on the wall. This is a copy but the original is in the Headmasters study – so pupils would have to commit serious misdemeanours to see it. These days Ashburnham houses activities like IT and mathematics but it once contained the unique Cotton Library built up by the redoubtable Sir Robert Cotton from books he rescued from monasteries after the Dissolution. Some were lost during a fire here in 1731 but three quarters were rescued and became the basis of today’s British Library. 

But the gem of the place is the small garden where you can still see the original wall of the monk’s refectory which has a strong claim to be the origin of Parliament because it was the site of some of the earliest meetings of what became the House of Commons. The lawn would have been the floor of the refectory. The building on the left, somewhat bizarrely houses several Fives courts of recent origin. We are most grateful to Elizabeth Wells, Archivist of the school for giving us a fascinating tour. 
 
 
 
The wall of the monastic refectory - the origin of Parliament
 

With thanks to the Purcell Club singers, prodominantly members of the Westminster Abbey Old Chorister's Association, for a wonderful evening of music and history.  We have already put our name down on the waiting list to go again in 4 years time !