RSA House, this month's Venue of the Month, is steeped in history and full of stunning features. In this blog, we take a closer look inside this intruiguing Georgian venue. 

The History of RSA House

The Royal Society of Arts have been based at their current home just off the Strand since 1774 and the building was specifically designed for the Society by the Adams Brothers.

The RSA building is now made up of five original properties on John Adam Street, and every room in the building has its own fascinating history, providing a stunning backdrop for Weddings and Private Events.

The Great Room

The beautiful Venetian terrazzo floor on the Grand Staircase was installed in 1925 and now provides a perfect spot for beautiful photos on your Wedding Day. At the top of this gorgeous sweeping staircase is RSA House’s largest and most impressive function space.

The Great Room was designed as an assembly room for the Society Members' discussions and debates and as a venue for the presentation of awards and prizes.

The Great Room is dominated by the epic series of paintings "Progress of Human Knowledge and Culture" by James Barry. In 1774, ten artists including Barry, were invited to decorate the Great Room and all declined, but Barry. 24 years later the impressive sequence of six paintings were completed to display the images we still house today. 

In 1877 RSA fellow Alexander Graham Bell gave the first practical demonstration of his new invention, the telephone, in the Great Room.

This was the first to take place anywhere in Britain. Bell was later the recipient of the Albert Medal for his ground-breaking invention.

The Tavern Room

The Tavern Room at RSA House is one of our smaller reception rooms, but is perfect for a post Ceremony Drinks Reception or perhaps for more intimate Wedding Ceremonies. This room was originally part of William Osbourne’s ‘The Adelphi Tavern’ which opened in 1772 as part of the Adelphi Hotel opposite. It also famously features in Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers, and Dickens’ himself was a member of the Society serving as Vice-President. As with many of our rooms, the ceiling in the Tavern Room is an original Adam design.

The Benjamin Franklin Room

This beautiful, bright and spacious room is the first that you come across when entering RSA House. Purpose built as part of the first building that the RSA occupied, this room used to display the prize-winning inventions by members of the Society until the mid-19th Century. It was then converted into a library and reading room and in 1967 it was named the Benjamin Franklin Room to mark the Society’s long association with the USA.

The most prominent feature of this room is the stunning glass chandelier, which was specifically designed by Troika for this space. The geometric patterns that the light makes on the ceiling are reflective of the bifocals that Benjamin Franklin invented.

More information on the chandeliers by Troika at RSA House is available here.

The Vaults

Underneath the grand and traditional function spaces that RSA House offers, the Vaults are an unexpected delight. Originally designed as warehouse storage, the Vaults display exposed 18th Century brickwork and used to lead directly onto the Thames.

For many years, the Vaults were also used as wine cellars by Sichel & Sons. Wine was brought up the river in casks and bottled in adjoining cellars before being laid down in these vaults. Before the Vault's wine days, it was home to many cattle and livestock. 

Now the Vaults host everything from Wedding Ceremonies to Drinks Receptions and provide an ideal atmosphere for evening parties and celebrations.