The Lunar Society

The Age of Enlightenment, from which neo-classicism cannot be divided, demanded the search for scientific explanations. This, in turn, drew together a group of intellectuals – scientists and engineers, industrialists and thinkers – calling themselves the Lunar Society. It was a dinner club, founded in 1765 and based in Birmingham, which met every month on the night of the full moon – its light allowing a safe journey home over the rough terrain of 18th century English roads.

 The members of the Lunar Society were very influential in Britain. Amongst those who attended meetings more or less regularly were manufacturer Matthew Boulton, Dr Erasmus Darwin, chemist James Keir, scientist Joseph Priestley, engineer James Watt, clockmaker John Whitehurst and Josiah Wedgwood.

 The manufacturers among them, including Josiah, applied their discussions to the progress of industry. But all manner of topics were aired and many eminent scientists, politicians and thinkers attended occasionally or corresponded. These included manufacturer Richard Arkwright, American politicans Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and artist Joseph Wright.



Wedgwood portrait medallion of Benjamin Franklin, 1777–80

Wedgwood portrait medallion of Benjamin Franklin, 1777–80