Explore your archive
Time encapsulated at the RSA
Preserved in a small bound volume of selected manuscript minutes is an account of a truly memorable day in the history of the Society, 28th March 1772. This was the occasion when the foundation stones for the Society’s future and present home were laid.
Following the inaugural meeting in Rawthmell’s Coffee House, in 1754 the Society’s membership steadily increased and were forced to find a succession of larger rented accommodation. Then on the 30th October 1771 the Adam brothers, Robert, William and James presented their plan to build a prominent building situated between the Strand and the River Thames.
John Phillips, the Adams’ building contractor, describes in detail the contents of the two timecapsules placed under the west and east foundation stones of the building…
‘…A Printed List of the Members of the Society, a Printed Book of the Rules and Orders… lists of the president and Vice presidents… an elevation of the Front of the Building, together with the Medal and two pallets of the Society in Copper, a Two Guinea Piece, a Guinea, a half Guinea, a Quarter Guinea, four Shilling, a half penny and farthing coined during the Reign of his present Majesty wrapt in Tin Foil were enclosed’.
His account also lists who was present, that Lord Romney, President, was the person who placed the first foundation stone and the celebration at the Adelphi Tavern that followed.
This was the starting point for the RSA Archive’s Explore Your Archive project, to produce digital versions of items buried in the 18th Century timecapsule and to include what would constitute the best content from today’s RSA in a 21 Century digital timecapsule.