For over 400 years Gresham Professors have given free public lectures in the City of London. These lectures continue today and you can see the eclectic lineup on the Gresham College website. I’ve included the historical background on the College below but i have flagged one interesting lecture, as an example, which will be given on March 5th.
From Gresham: “The Holy Grail conjures up images of a romantic and heroic past, of magical journeys and brave knights. What do we really know of its origin and meaning? It has entered the language as a phrase that embodies an infinitely desirable but attainable goal. Is there any truth behind this intriguing object, or is it just one of the many myths of the Middle Ages?
This talk will consider why the symbol of the Holy Grail has proved so durable. It will follow the transformations of the medieval grail through history, art, literature and theology.The journey will take us across europe and the Near East and even to America as we unravel the cultural impact of Tennyson’s Phantom Cup.”
The College is named after Sir Thomas Gresham, son of Sir Richard Gresham who was Lord Mayor in 1537/38 and who conceived the idea of building an Exchange modeled on the Antwerp Bourse. This was brought to fruition by Sir Thomas, on land provided by the City of London Corporation, and was given the royal appellation by Queen Elizabeth I.
Sir Thomas was appointed Royal Agent in Antwerp by Edward VI, a position which he held throughout Mary’s reign and the first nine years of Elizabeth’s. His fine mansion in Bishopsgate was the first home of Gresham College. It was there that the Professors gave their lectures until 1768, their salaries being met from rental income from the shops around the Royal Exchange which Sir Thomas had bequeathed jointly to the City of London Corporation and the Mercers’ Company. This period saw the formation and early development at Gresham College of The Royal Society, and the tenure of chairs by a number of distinguished Professors, including Sir Christopher Wren.