The Ditchley Foundation based at Ditchley Park near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, aims to promote international understanding and relations, especially Anglo-American relations, through a programme of around twelve annual conferences on matters of international interest. The foundation was established in 1958 by Sir David Wills, descendant of the tobacco importing family, W. D. & H. O. Wills of Bristol.
At each conference, around forty international invitees are drawn from senior levels of politics, business, the armed forces, media, and academia. The current director is Sir John Holmes GCVO, KBE, CMG, former British diplomat, and recently Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator at the United Nations, New York.
Discussion at each two-day conference begins with all members present, before participants divide into three sub-groups, each having its own chairman and rapporteur to summarise proceedings. Proceedings end with one more conference-wide session. Discussions are private and non-attributable, under the Chatham House Rule, but a full account is produced by the Director, and posted on the Foundations website.
Sister organisations, American and Canadian Ditchley, help to shape the conference programme as well as select American and Canadian participants.
- The Rt Hon Lord (George Islay MacNeill) Robertson of Port Ellen, KT, GCMG, PC, Hon FRSE is the current Chairman of The Ditchley Foundation. He is also Deputy-Chairman of TNK-BP. He was NATO Secretary General from 1999-2003 and UK Defence Secretary from 1997-1999.
- Sir John Major, the former British Prime Minister, chairman of the Ditchley Foundation 2000-2009.
- Sir John Wheeler-Bennett. British historian; the first chairman, appointed in 1958.
- Sir Reginald Hibbert. Director 1982–1987.
- Sir Philip Adams. Director 1977–1982.
- Sir Michael Quinlan. Director 1992–1999.
- Sir Nigel Broomfield KCMG, Director 1999-2004
- Sir Jeremy Greenstock GCMG, Director 2004 - 2010
See The Ditchley foundation governors for a full list of current Governors.
The list below includes some current, but many former Governors.
- Lord Adonis. Former Transport Secretary.
- Giuliano Amato. Formerly Prime Minister of Italy.
- Margaret Beckett. Formerly Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.
- Paul Boateng. Formerely British High Commissioner to the Republic of South Africa and Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
- Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone, JP. Formerly Secretary of State for Health and for National Heritage.
- John Brademas. Formerly Chairman, The American Ditchley Foundation. President Emeritus, New York University. Formerly Democratic Congressman for Indiana.
- John Bruton. Former Irish Taoiseach.
- Robin Butler, GCB, CVO. Master, University College, Oxford. Formerly Secretary of the Cabinet and Head of the Home Civil Service.
- David Cameron, MP. Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Conservative Member of Parliament for Witney.
- Menzies Campbell, CBE, QC, MP. Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Fife North East and formerly Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party.
- Lord Carrington, KG, GCMG, CH, MC. Formerly Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Secretary-General of NATO.
- Shami Chakrabarti, CBE. Director of Liberty.
- Lynda Chalker. Formerly Minister for Overseas Development.
- Robert Cooper. Director General, Council of the European Union.
- David Hennessy. Formerly Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords; Principal of Brasenose College, Oxford.
- Geoffrey Howe. Formerly Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.
- David Hunt. Formerly Secretary of the Cabinet and formerly Chairman, The Ditchley Foundation.
- Douglas Hurd. Formerly Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.
- Peter Jay. Former Ambassador to the United States.
- François Lagrange. Chairman, National Commission for Privatisation and President of the Patent Office, France.
- Roy MacLaren. Formerly Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Minister of Trade.
- Neil Kinnock. Chairman, The British Council. Formerly Vice President of the European Commission.
- Peter Mandelson. Commissioner for External Trade, European Commission. Formerly Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
- John Major. Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
- David Miliband. Formerly Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Labour Member of Parliament for South Shields.
- Patrick Nairne. Formerly Permanent Secretary, Department of Health and Social Security and Master, St. Catherine’s College, Oxford.
- Pauline Neville-Jones. Minister of State for Security, Governor of the BBC and Political Director, Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
- Martin O’Neill. Formerly Member of Parliament for Ochil.
- Malcolm Rifkind. Conservative Member of Parliament for Kensington and Chelsea. Formerly Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.
- John Sawers. KCMG. Chief of SIS. Formerly British Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
- Jack Straw. Formerly Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Leader of the House of Commons, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Home Secretary.
- Elizabeth Symons. Formerly Minister of Defence Procurement, Minister of State for International Trade and Investment, Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
- Kevin Tebbit. Formerly Permanent Under-Secretary, Ministry of Defence.
- David Willetts. Conservative Member of Parliament for Havant and Minister of State for Universities and Science.
- Shirley Williams. Former Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party in the House of Lords and Public Service Professor, Kennedy School of Government. Director, Project Liberty, Harvard University. Formerly Secretary of State for Education and Science.
- Our Good Conference Guide: Magic mountains for the mind - The Economist - 26 December 1987 - Volume 305