Victorian Society

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The Victorian Society
1 Priory Gardens.jpg
1 Priory Gardens (1880), Bedford Park, London, by E.J. May (1853–1941), the headquarters of the Victorian Society.
Formation 1958
Headquarters 1 Priory Gardens, London, England
Key People
HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG, GCVO (Patron)
Lord Briggs of Lewes (President)
Sir David Cannadine FBA FRSL FRHistS, Harry Handelsman, Lord Howarth of Newport CBE PC, Sir Simon Jenkins FRSL, Griff Rhys Jones, Fiona MacCarthy OBE FRSL, (Vice-Presidents)
Christopher Costelloe (Director)
Professor Hilary Grainger (Chair of Trustees)

The Victorian Society is the national charity which campaigns to preserve the best Victorian and Edwardian architecture, built between 1837 and 1914, in England and Wales. As one of the National Amenity Societies, the Victorian Society is a statutory consultee on alterations to listed buildings, and by law must be notified of any work to a listed building which involves any element of demolition.[1]

The society is a membership organisation which relies on the public joining to support its charitable work.[2]

The Society runs an annual list of the Top Ten Most Endangered Victorian or Edwardian Buildings in England and Wales[3] and has active Facebook[4] and Twitter[5] accounts used to alert the public to the latest threats to Victorian and Edwardian architecture.

The Twentieth Century Society serves a similar role for post-1914 buildings and the Georgian Group for those built between 1700 and 1840.


The founding of the Society was first proposed in November 1957[6] with the intention of fighting the widespread ignorance of 19th and early 20th century architecture which at the time was unfashionable. The first meeting was held at Linley Sambourne House on 28 February 1958. Among its thirty founder members were John Betjeman, Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Nikolaus Pevsner. Former Bletchley Park codebreaker, Jane Fawcett, managed the society's affairs as secretary from 1964 to 1976.[7]


The society has helped save numerous famous Landmarks such as St Pancras Station,[8] Albert Dock in Liverpool, the Foreign Office and Oxford University Museum.[9]

As well as being a statutory consultee on works to listed buildings the Society also:

  • Provides advice to churches and local planning authorities on how Victorian and Edwardian buildings and landscapes can be adapted to modern use, while keeping what is distinctive about them.
  • Advises members of the public on how they can help shape the future of their local Victorian and Edwardian buildings and landscapes.
  • Provides information to owners of Victorian and Edwardian houses about how they can better look after their buildings.
  • Helps people understand, appreciate, and enjoy the architectural heritage of the Victorian and Edwardian period through its publications and events.


A recent campaign of the Victorian Society has taken on the preservation of Victorian gasometers after utility companies announced plans to demolish nearly 200 of the now outdated structures. Christopher Costelloe, director of the Victorian Society, said in regards to the group's efforts, "Gasometers, by their very size and structure, cannot help but become landmarks. [They] are singularly dramatic structures for all their emptiness.”[10]


  1. ^ Department for Communities and Local Government (24 March 2015), Arrangements for handling heritage applications Direction 2015,, retrieved 5 August 2015 
  2. ^ "Join". The Victorian Society. Retrieved 2015-10-20. 
  3. ^ "2014 Top ten endangered buildings". The Victorian Society. 2014-10-08. Retrieved 2015-10-20. 
  4. ^ "The Victorian Society". Retrieved 2015-10-20. 
  5. ^ "TheVictorianSociety (@thevicsoc)". Twitter. 2015-10-16. Retrieved 2015-10-20. 
  6. ^ "History of the Victorian Society". The Victorian Society. 1998. Retrieved 2016-07-25. 
  7. ^ "The deb who sank the Bismarck". The Economist. 2016-06-04. Retrieved 2016-06-03. 
  8. ^ "Simon Jenkins: Not just a building, but a joy to behold. Ken Livingstone must hate St Pancras | Comment is free". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-10-20. 
  9. ^ "History of". The Victorian Society. 1958-02-24. Retrieved 2015-10-20. 
  10. ^ Sean O'Hagan, Gasworks wonders…, The Guardian, 14 June 2015.

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