Round Table (club)
Round Table is a social networking and charitable organisation for men in their 20s, 30s and early 40s, founded in Norwich, in 1927. It is open to all men aged between 18 and 45 (originally 40, which is still retained as the age limit in most countries outside the United Kingdom and Ireland). Membership of Table provides a selection of social and community service related opportunities for its members, who come from all parts of the community.
The name "Round Table" is not directly drawn from Arthurian Legend; rather both its title and its maxim comes from a speech made to the British Industries Fair in 1927 by the then HRH Prince Edward, Prince of Wales 'The young business and professional men of this country must get together round the table, adopt methods that have proved so sound in the past, adapt them to the changing needs of the times and wherever possible, improve them'. The phrase "adopt, adapt, improve" is a key facet of the organisation, and is often seen on Round Table literature and regalia.
The first Round Table was formed in Norwich, England in 1927. The founder, Louis Marchesi, was a young member of Norwich Rotary Club who felt there was a need for a club aimed more at the younger businessmen of the town. His vision was for them to exchange ideas, learn from the experiences of their colleagues, and together contribute to the civic life of the town.
In the following 12 months, interest was so high that the club attracted 85 members, and people around the country were starting to show an interest in establishing other clubs.
From the beginning, the Round Table was a non-religious, non-political, and non-sectarian club, an ethos that still underpins the movement today.
The second Round Table club opened soon after in Portsmouth and then the idea really took off—by the time the Second World War broke out in 1939 there were 125 clubs and 4,600 members.
The first overseas group was formed in Copenhagen in 1936, and while the movement continued to grow in Denmark, the war years halted British expansion for a while. The existing clubs held strong, however, and when the war was over the momentum grew once again as clubs were chartered all over Britain. Today, in the United Kingdom, there are 600 local Round Tables, with a combined membership of close to 8,000.
The Round Table is now a truly international movement, with active members in most European countries, as well as Africa, the Middle East, India, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and the USA. In fact, there are Round Table clubs on every continent
Round Table has no direct connection to Arthurian Round Table. The design of the Round Table emblem or rondel (see above) is, however, an adaptation of the one which hangs in the Great Hall in Winchester Castle. Although this is claimed to be the Round Table of the mythical court of King Arthur, it is in fact a representation which was made in the 13th century, and painted in its current form on the order of Henry VIII.
The movement's name comes from a speech that the then Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII and Duke of Windsor) made in 1927 to the British Industries Fair, when he said: “The young business and professional men of this country must get together round the table, adopt methods that have proved so sound in the past, adapt them to the changing needs of the times and wherever possible, improve them”.
This speech inspired the fledgling movement’s name, and also provided its maxim: adopt, adapt, improve – principles that remain at the heart of the modern movement.
The Round Table Family
The Round Table Family of clubs consists of four clubs.
In 1932 the wives of Tablers set up their own social networking and charitable fundraising organisation - Ladies Circle. This was originally founded by and for wives of Tablers, however is now open to all women aged 18 to 45.
Most local Round Table clubs hold regular meetings each fortnight, getting together for everything from paintballing to a game of football, or even something as simple a drink at the pub or a meal somewhere local. Each local Round Table club usually organises a few one-off events each year. They vary from club to club, and can be anything from carnivals, fireworks displays such as Sparks in the Park, to charity runs. Raising money is often secondary – what matters is that Tablers are getting involved in their local communities and making a difference locally. There’s no obligation to commit a certain amount of time. Group activities may include abseiling, bungee jumping, dry slope skiing or juggling.
With Round Table clubs worldwide, its members can - either when moving areas permanently or simply on holiday or travelling on business - meet other Round Tablers in their destination area. This is sometimes seen as the biggest benefit of Round Table.
Round Table is frequently associated with its charitable fund raising activities and community service projects. In the UK many Round Tables operate these activities through charitable trusts which are registered with, and regulated by, the Charities Commission.
Aims and Objects of Round Table
These are the current Aims & Objects of Round Table Great Britain & Ireland as at the AGM in May 2013. The wording may differ slightly in different countries.
1. To develop the acquaintance of young men throughout the medium of their various occupations
2. To emphasise the fact that one's calling offers an excellent medium of service to the community
3. To cultivate the highest ideals in business, professional and civic traditions
4. To recognise the worthiness of all legitimate occupations and dignify each his own by precept and example
5. To further establishment of peace and goodwill in international relations
6. To further these objects by meetings, lectures, discussions and other activities.
These are the current Aims & Objects of Round Table International:
1. To promote fellowship and understanding between Round Table Associations worldwide;
2. To promote the formation of new Round Table Associations throughout the world;
3. To initiate, develop and improve working relationships with Club 41 International and Ladies Circle International for fellowship, networking and Joint Service objectives;
4. To promote and administer Joint Service Projects worldwide.
- Barty-King, Hugh (1977), Round Table: The Search for Fellowship, London: Heinemann
- Creasey, John (1952), Round Table: the First Twenty-Five Years of the Round Table Movement, Norwich: Jarrold & Sons
- Wilkinson, Alan (2005), Continued Friendship: Sixty Years of Forty One: The Story of the Association of ex-tablers' Clubs