Swedenborg House is home to a wide range of cultural, artistic, educational and intellectual activities related to the work and legacy of Swedenborg. It boasts a bookshop, a museum, an exhibition and lecture programme, reading rooms, a unique historical archive and library with a rare collection or artefacts, and Swedenborg Hall: a stunning neoclassical lecture theatre. Built around 1760, Swedenborg House was originally a dwelling house and part of the Bedford Estate. It has since had a variety of uses (it was a brewery warehouse between 1914 and 1924) before the freehold was acquired by the Swedenborg Society in 1924 and is now a Grade II listed building. Founder members of the Society included the sculpture and artist John Flaxman and Charles Augustus Tulk, later a Member of Parliament and a close friend of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The building was extensively refurbished and enlarged in 1925/26 and has been the headquarters of the Swedenborg Society since then.
EXHIBITIONS, LECTURE AND CONFERENCES
In addition to providing a lecture and conference programme featuring writers, academics and commentators from a variety of backgrounds (previous speakers have included A S Byatt, Roy Foster and Marina Warner), Swedenborg House also stages exhibitions, an annual film festival, and an artist residency. Previous exhibitions at Swedenborg House have included Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller, Bridget Smith, Jeremy Millar, Iain Sinclair and Brian Catling. Our education service caters for primary school children through drawing workshops; adult and older learning groups through lectures, seminars, book clubs and reading groups; and postgraduate research through Ph D scholarships. We are currently establishing KS2 workshops for primary school pupils based on Swedenborg’s influence on Romantic and Symbolist poetry.
MUSEUM, LIBRARY AND ARCHIVE
Recently established, the Swedenborg House museum cares for a unique collection of rare historical artefacts. The museum has a broad range of research resources including individual items relating to D T Suzuki, S T Coleridge, John Flaxman and J J G Wilkinson; plus personal effects once owned by Swedenborg himself. Only a small portion of items from the collection are on permanent display throughout the house. The rest of the collection can be viewed by appointment.
An extensive library is also housed throughout the building. The library is free to all members and material can be viewed by appointment with the librarian. Its current holdings include the most comprehensive collection in the world of editions of Swedenborg’s works (in 40 languages); a large library of 19th-century books; an archive of photographs and lantern slides; rare individual letters and other ephemera; a comprehensive selection of 19th-century periodical; and a large variety of books about Swedenborg.
Help support the important work at Swedenborg House by becoming a Friend or a Member.
Swedenborg Hall is available for private hire. For further details follow the button to our Room Hire page.
Charity registration number: 209172