Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society

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Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society is a Learned society in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. It was founded in 1819, and its museum collection forms the basis of Leeds City Museum, which reopened in September 2008. The printed works and papers of the society are held by Leeds University Library. [1] [2] The Society is a registered charity under English law. [3]


Blue plaque, HSBC, Park Row, Leeds (25 August 2017) - marking site of Leeds' Philosophical Hall Blue plaque, HSBC, Park Row, Leeds (25th August 2017).jpg
Blue plaque, HSBC, Park Row, Leeds (25 August 2017) – marking site of Leeds' Philosophical Hall

Among the early members of the society were John Marshall (President, 1820–26), Benjamin Gott, William Hey (President, 1831–33), and Edward Baines and his son, Sir Edward Baines. Richard Reynolds was an honorary secretary. More recent Presidents include John Le Patourel (1966–68). [4]


Robert Dennis Chantrell won the competition to build the new Hall for the Society in May 1819 in Classical style. [5] The Hall was sited on the corner of Park Row and Bond Street in the Georgian west end of Leeds. [6] The foundation stone was laid by Benjamin Gott on 9 July 1819 and the Hall was opened on 6 April 1821. [7] The Hall had a lecture theatre, library, laboratory and museum. [6] [8] Charles Turner Thackrah gave the opening address, pointing out that the Hall would provide a place for "the conversational diffusion of knowledge". [6] Before the creation of any college or university in Leeds, the Society provided an important opportunity for civic education. [6]

Later history

The Hall was refaced and extended in 1861-62 by Dobson & Chorley. [7] [9] A new entrance was built on Park Row. [8] In 1876, the inaugural meeting of the Leeds Architectural Association was held in the Hall. [9]

The Hall was badly damaged in an air raid in 1941 when many museum exhibits were lost, but the building was given a new concrete façade and remained as a museum until 1965. [7] [8] The Hall was demolished in 1966. [8] William Gott was a benefactor to the museum, and one of the Society's vice presidents in later life. [10]

In 1925, the Society began publishing two journals: Proceedings of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society. Scientific section (which ran from 1925 to 1998, producing twelve volumes) [11] and Proceedings of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society. Literary and Historical Section (which ran from 1925 to 1999, producing twenty-five volumes). [12]

List of presidents

The following have been presidents of the society: [4]

Former curators of the museum (1821–1921)

Other notable figures connected to the society

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  1. "Subject guide to printed collections: Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society". Leeds University Library: Special collections. Retrieved 11 May 2009.
  2. "Papers of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society MS Deposit 1975/1" (PDF). Leeds University Library: Special collections. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
  3. "LEEDS PHILOSOPHICAL AND LITERARY SOCIETY LIMITED, registered charity no. 224084". Charity Commission for England and Wales.
  4. 1 2 "History". The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society. Archived from the original on 2 October 2008. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
  5. Webster, Christopher (2011). Building a Great Victorian City: Leeds Architects and Architecture 1790-1914. Northern Heritage Publications. pp. 101–102.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Unsworth, Rachael. "OTD 1821 the new Philosophical Hall was the venue for the first General Meeting of the @LeedsPhilandLit". Twitter. Retrieved 7 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. 1 2 3 "Philosophical Hall, print". Leodis. Retrieved 7 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. 1 2 3 4 "Park Row, junction with Bond Street, Philosophical Hall". Leodis. Retrieved 7 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. 1 2 Webster (2011). Building a Great Victorian City. pp. 167–68.
  10. "Funeral of W. Gott Esq" . Leeds Intelligencer. British Newspaper Archive. 5 September 1863. p. 8 col.1. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  11. https://leeds.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/44LEE_INST/13rlbcs/alma991014314409705181
  12. https://leeds.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/44LEE_INST/13rlbcs/alma991014516409705181
  13. 1 2 3 Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society – Established 1819–20 – Report of the Council at the Close of the Thirty-Third Season. The Society. 1853. pp. 23–28 – List of Officers, Council and Members. Retrieved 20 February 2020.

Further reading