History

The Institute of Classical Studies (ICS) was founded in 1953 by the Senate of the University of London as a partnership between the University and the Hellenic and Roman Societies. In 1958 the Institute and the two Societies moved from their headquarters at 50 Bedford Square to new purpose-built accommodation provided by the University at 31-34 Gordon Square, an address which for nearly 40 years was regarded throughout the Classical world as the national headquarters of the profession. 

From its foundation, the Institute, in association with the Hellenic and Roman Societies, has provided an internationally-renowned research Library available to scholars from the UK and throughout the world. The Societies, through the generosity of those who review books for their Journals, supply the major flow of new books, so that two-thirds of the current book stock (of about 130,000 volumes) is derived from this source. The Institute aims to provide an academic centre for scholars, at all levels of their development, and also plays a leading role in the training of postgraduate students both from the Colleges of the University of London and from other Universities throughout the UK and from abroad. It also provides the meeting place for some of the main Classics organisations in the United Kingdom. 

Senate House 1943 painting by Sir Henry Rushbury RA (photo R. Simpson)In August 1997, the Institute and the Societies moved again, to new premises within the South Block of the University of London’s Senate House, a Grade II* listed building, dating from the early 1930s. Although the building itself is not universally loved, it is an impressive architectural achievement by Charles Holden; and it offered first-class accommodation for the Joint Library and its associated offices, teaching rooms and a large shared common room. The Library was at that time divided between two reading rooms, one on the third floor, overlooking the British Museum, and another, containing the archaeology, art, and epigraphy collections, in the basement, reached by direct lift from within the library. 

In more recent years, the School of Advanced Study has carried out a major reorganisation, as a result of which there have been changes affecting the Joint Library. For a period from 2005 to 2009, the Library was housed in temporary accommodation in the North Block, while renovation work was carried out on its previous home. When this period of exile ended, it was to be even more superbly accommodated than before, this time entirely on the third floor of Senate House. However, the Joint Library became an integral part of the University’s Library provision and was spatially separated from the Institute. The Institute’s offices, together with those of the Hellenic and Roman Societies, moved to the second floor, but the closest collaboration between Library, Institute and the two Societies still continued.

Since the beginning of the academic year 2014-15 the Combined Library has been reunited with the Institute and the Institute’s offices have moved to the third floor.

Other parts of this website contain details of the ambitious programme of academic Events — seminars, lecture, conferences and training events — promoted by the Institute; of its extensive and ongoing Publications programme; and of its Networks and collaborations, which foster research, both at home at abroad,  in all areas of study related to the ancient world. In the future - as in the past - its staff are determined to develop and widen the Institute’s contribution to the research activities of all those throughout the UK and further afield who work on aspects of the ancient world.