To: Helen Whately MP, Minister for Social Care.

Dear Helen,

I am writing to tell you about the Linnean Society of London, of which I am a Fellow, and how the work of the Society is threatened by a huge rise in rent paid to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government. A 3000% rise was imposed from 2012 to 2018, but now much worse is to come unless fully engaged negotiations with the landlord can match demand to the Society’s value to Britain and to Biodiversity conservation research and education.

The Linnean Society occupies Burlington House in Piccadilly, alongside the Geological Society and the Society of Antiquaries.  Since its foundation in 1788 the Linnean Society has been dedicated to promoting the study of nature and of all aspects of the natural world. It houses unique collections available for study and used for outreach to students and school children, and anyone who would like to join a ‘Treasure Tour’. Frequent evening and lunchtime scientific lectures are open to the public, and the purpose-built grand setting adds to the enjoyment. As our President, Dr Sandra Knapp, writes, the Society “plays a vital role in promoting science – from natural history to astronomy – in schools and in society”. 

In particular, the Linnean is a very friendly society, welcoming anyone interested in natural history, amateur or professional. The delightful setting, a short bus ride from Victoria Station, and the interesting fellow enthusiasts to meet there, at lectures, meetings, and Student Conferences, make it a wonderful resource for Fellows from around the world, and especially for Londoners and people like me who in normal times would come by train whenever possible.

I enclose the Annual review from 2019, from which you will see the scope and vibrancy of the Society’s work.

You can also see the concern of a Linnean Society Fellow, Simon King FLS, in his letter posted to the website FFON, Frightened Face of Nature, which I also contribute to and which has links to the Linnean Society:-

It will be impossible for the Linnean Society to continue at Burlington House, which is designed to preserve the collections, unless the discussions with the landlord, MHCLG, can be brought to a more supportive settlement. Please would you convey my concern to the Minister, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP. and also to Tim Loughton MP who is coordinating parliamentary interest.

With many thanks,

Dr V.E. Jeffries FLS

Fellow of the Linnean Society

FFON is a website after the Linnean Society’s own heart, in its dedication to all aspects of the natural world, and its concern for preservation of our planet. “Linnean Future” is a huge initiative recently set up to advance the Society’s work towards preservation of nature. A new committee was formed for this purpose: ‘The Planetary Emergency Response Committee of the Linnean Society’, which was launched on 3rd March 2021.

The “Surprise guest” mentioned by President Dr Sandy Knapp, opening the launch, is Bill Bailey, musician and comedian famous for BBC’s ‘QI’ and latest winner of ‘Strictly’ among other accomplishments, but is also an expert on Alfred Russell Wallace, whose paper on Evolution by Natural Selection was read out along with Darwin’s in the lecture room in Burlington House in 1858.