The Franco-British Society is an independent charitable organisation,
privileged to have The Queen as its patron. Founded in 1924, although
its roots go back to the Entente Cordiale at the beginning of the
20th century, it is dedicated to encouraging closer relations between
Britain and France. The Society acts as a focus for those
individuals, groups and companies who wish to keep in touch with
France, her culture, history and current affairs.
Members receive a Programme of events three times a year, offering a
range of educational, cultural and social activities. There is also
an annual newsletter. The members are mainly British (with some
having French family connections), and sometimes French. Many are
francophones, while others are not. The aspect that unites the
members is an abiding interest in all things French. New members are
The Society believes that relations between our two countries are as
important now as they have ever been. The events we organise
throughout the year include:
An Annual General Meeting, usually held in April, with distinguished
guest speakers and to which the French Ambassador is invited. Past
speakers include Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, who spoke about
his Huguenot connections; Lord Thomson of Monifieth, whose talk
centred on France and the European Community; Christopher Lloyd, when
he was Keeper of the Queen's Pictures, who gave an illustrated talk
on 'The Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle: George IV and the
Downfall of Napoleon'; Baroness Quin, who spoke about the Entente
Cordiale, and the Franco-British relationship in the European
context; Sir John Holmes, when HM Ambassador to France, whose talk
centred on Britain, France and the European Challenge; Alain de
Boton, on the art of travel particularly in relation to France;
Robert Tombs, whose talk reflected the title of his book, 'That Sweet
Enemy', which he co-authored with his wife, Isobel; and Rt
Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP, President of the Society, whose talk
was entitled 'Different concepts of freedom? A light survey of
A series of lunchtime lectures, usually in English and occasionally
in French, followed by refreshments. These are usually held at
central London locations. The subjects vary hugely, from historical
themes to more contemporary ones. We also offer evening talks which
also cover a wide variety of subjects.
Details of current lectures and other events appear in the Programme.
Occasional recitals, followed by a reception. These have most
recently taken place at Dartmouth House in Charles Street, W1, a
superb heritage building refurbished in the 1890s in the Anglo-French style.
Special events. For instance, a large contingent of French members of
the ESU joined FBS members at Portcullis House for a lecture by the
Education Officer on the work of Parliament, followed by a tour of
the House of Lords, and then lunch in the River Room and an address
by the Lord Speaker.
Joint events, where the Society joins with other UK-EU societies for
an annual lecture. Past speakers include Peter Hain, Lord Patten and
Lord Grenfell, Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur and Chairman
of the Select Committee on the European Union at the House of Lords.
The title of his talk, which was held at the French Institute in
front of an audience of 300, was 'European Enlargement: How much
pain, how much gain?'. The UK-EU Societies have also in recent years
held a Concert at the Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music,
Kensington, featuring outstanding performers from the RCM in a mainly
Private views, when an exhibition is of special interest to the Society.
The annual visit to France, tailored to suit the historical interests
of FBS members. Recent destinations include Lyons, Paris, Nice,
Picardy, Carcassonne and Albi, and Normandy. There is invariably a
large group of around 30 members who participate, and during the
visit a lunch or dinner will usually be arranged to meet local
members of the English Speaking Union and Association France-Grande-Bretagne.
The Society also supports the following:
The Vlado Perlemuter Scholarship, whereby the Society funds the
winning student to study at the Académie Internationale de
Musique Ravel in France during September. The ESU administers this
award on our behalf, holding auditions at Dartmouth House every year
in front of a distinguished panel of judges. The Society invites the
winner to give a recital to the members. In recent years, the
scholarship has been won by Daniel Grimwood, Peter Rossiter, Fergal
O'Mahony and Gemma Beeson, Alexandra Dariescu and Sibila Konstantinova.
The Landscape Gardening Award, which honours an outstanding
horticultural achievement in the UK or France.
McLeod Literary Award, presented annually to the author of a work published in the
UK which is considered to have contributed most to
Franco-British understanding. The panel of distinguished judges award a cheque to the winning
author, who is usually invited to give the members a talk about their