The Penn Club’s roots go back to 1919, when members of the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU) returned to England following the First World War. As conscientious objectors, this group of young men refused to fight but wanted to help alleviate the suffering of others during war. During the years they were together in France, strong friendships and a natural camaraderie grew. Returning to Britain in the early months of 1919, they wanted somewhere they could meet comfortably and develop these friendships in peacetime, but there wasn’t one.
The group appealed to the society of Friends to help them find somewhere where younger members of the Quaker community could meet. Some other societies, including the Friends’ War Victims Relief Society and old scholars’ associations, joined the FAU in their appeal to raise funds to establish The Penn Club, which was officially opened on 14th October 1920, William Penn’s birthday.
The founding of The Penn Club created a community for like-minded men and women. Its original residence in Tavistock Square offered somewhere that members could call home whilst they were in London, be they passing through town over night or counting it as their main residence. The Penn Club became a venue for a variety of fascinating talks and events, including lectures on history, politics and society, recitals and concerts, and as the meeting point for larger excursions such as when members were taken on a tour of sites related to the club’s namesake, William Penn.
These qualities of offering a home-from-home, a space to cultivate friendships and events to spark interest and discussion, have been carried through the decades of The Penn Club’s establishment, and continues today.
THE PENN CLUB CENTENARY
It is not often an organisation reaches 100 years of establishment. The Penn Club’s celebrations have been made possible through the enthusiasm of a group of The Club’s members who wanted to mark this occasion. Because of their drive, these events and commissions will commemorate what The Club is, the people who form its community, and look forward to the next century of The Penn Club.
Please enjoy reading about The Club and the planned celebrations across these pages, and join us at the varied events organised for 2020.