Wolfson Room

As part of Open House London, discover the historic home of the British Academy, the UK’s national body for the humanities and social sciences.

The Wolfson Room at the British Academy, dressed with round tables

The Wolfson Room was named after the Wolfson Foundation who are a generous benefactor of the Academy’s work.

Number 11 was occupied by the Earl of Arundel 1846-1856. It then became the home of William Gladstone, who during his time here (1856-1875) served as Chancellor of the Exchequer and then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Gladstone served a record four terms as Prime Minister, and is credited for expanding the political and state system to function beyond the reach of vested interests among the upper classes. Notable too was his interest in Ireland and belief in Irish Home Rule – he introduced many reforms in Ireland including de-establishing the Church of Ireland and tackling unfair landlords.

His father John Gladstone’s significant role as a plantation slave owner in the Caribbean is well documented, as are William Gladstone’s shifting views on slavery throughout his life (he used his first Commons speech to argue in favour of compensation for slave owners, something his father John would receive after the abolition of slavery, while later describing slavery as “by the far the foulest crime that taints the history of mankind”).

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