THE WORLD’S OLDEST FREE SPEECH FORUM
Founded in the City of London in 1755 as a coffee bar debating society, the Society of Cogers can claim to be the oldest “free speech” forum in the world – and quite possibly the oldest debating society in the world also.
Historians believe that the name of the society derives from the maxim of the French philosopher, Rene Descartes - "Cogito Ergo Sum" - "I think therefore I am". Its founder members were friends of John Wilkes, a leader of popular agitation against the ministers of George the Third in the cause of freedom of the press.
In 1997, the City of London Society of Cogers was reconstituted with a view to giving more help to those who want to develop their abilities to speak in public. After all, the ability to stand up and express thoughts and ideas in front of groups of other people forms an essential part in the training of managers and leaders as well as politicians and pressure groups. Thus the society now incorporates the debating traditions of the historic “Society of Cogers” with some of the practices of speakers clubs Meetings of the Cogers are open to anyone keen to with an interest in discussing current affairs and in practising speaking in public in a lively and supportive atmosphere.
The Society of Cogers (pronounced ‘Koh-jers’) originated as part of the tradition of free speech and discussion in the taverns and coffee houses of Fleet Street in the Eighteenth Century. Convivial debating clubs formed part of the social, intellectual and commercial life of London during that period. Taverns and coffee-houses throughout the capital already functioned as important centres of trade and commerce and gave rise to Lloyds, the Baltic Exchange and the Stock Exchange. In this period Fleet Street was the natural home of publishers and lawyers and by the reign of George the Second as least a dozen clubs had been established for the purpose of reviewing and discussing the contents of newspapers. Read More
City of London Cogers
The City Of London Cogers meet on the 2nd Monday of every month. The venue is:
The Old Bank Of England
194 Fleet Street (next to Law Courts)
London EC4A 2LT
City of Westminster Cogers
Westminster Cogers meet on the 4th Wednesday of each month. The venue is 200 yards from Victoria Station, viz:
The Plumber's Arms
Lower Belgrave Street
Ware Society of Cogers
The Ware Society of Cogers meets on the third Tuesday of each month at:
The Drill Hall, Amwell End