The history of the Sylvan Debating Club

The Sylvans were founded in 1868 and have been in continuous operation since then, developing a considerable history along the way. From the very beginning and through to the current day, debate participants carefully consider topical subjects from all sides, based on a wide range of perspectives.

Sylvan history information:

Founding of the club

In words taken from the official history, “The inception of the Club was discussed on top of one of the Green Atlas buses which ran from the City through Baker Street and the Abbey Road to the Princess of Wales Hotel in St. John’s Wood. A conversation took place between Mr. Alfred Harmsworth and one of the other Founders and resulted in the first Meeting being held at the aforementioned Hotel on January 6th, 1868.”

And thus the Sylvans (as they became known) have continued for over 7 reigns and 155 years right to the present day, giving pleasure, practice and a voice to those who “desired the opportunity of giving vent in speech to their opinions on every subject interesting to man” and of course women, who for decades have been key members of the club, including serving as officers ranging from treasurer to president.

Histories of the Sylvans

Two histories of the Sylvan Debating Club have been written over the years, one from 1931 which focused on the leading personalities of the club including its founders, and one from 1968 which charts the first 100 years of the club’s activities.

The history from 1931 can be viewed here.  For a list of all the Sylvan debate topics since 1999, please click here.

The Trustees of the Sylvan Debating Club are The Lord Harmsworth and Mr Donald Leon Soon.