2017 was the 90th Anniversary of The Chelsea Society, and on Monday 11th December we held a celebratory dinner at The Caledonian Club in Halkin Street, London SW1.
The Chairman, Dr. James Thompson, welcomed members and guests at a reception in the Morrison Room before dinner, and at the commencement of the dinner the Vice-chairman, Michael Stephen, reminded everyone of the foundation of the Society 90 years ago by a very distinguished group of people (http://chelseasociety.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Members-of-the-First-Council-of-The-Chelsea-Society.pdf) and proposed a toast to “the founders of The Chelsea Society.”
The guest speaker after dinner was Professor Robert Tombs, professor of history at St. John’s Cambridge and the author of “The English and their History” (Penguin 2015) in which he describes the history of the English people, and how the stories we have told about ourselves have shaped us, from prehistoric times to the present day. In his view, if a nation is a group of people with a sense of kinship, a political identity and representative institutions, then the English can claim to be the oldest nation in the world. We first came into existence before we had a common ruler and before the country we lived in even had a name.
His speech focussed on relations between the United Kingdom and Europe, and made some thought-provoking propositions as to the course of world history if we had not sought to maintain the balance of power in Europe by going to war with Louis XIV, Napoleon, the Kaiser, and Adolf Hitler. This was followed by a lively discussion.