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Veterinary History
From inns and coffee houses to Red Lion Square
  1. Bruce Vivash Jones
  1. Netherton Lodge, Quenington, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 5DD
  1. E-mail for correspondence vivashbvj123{at}

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The RCVS is currently looking for a chief executive to lead it through a period of significant change. Change is nothing new for the Royal College, says Bruce Vivash Jones, who discusses some of the trials and tribulations of its first 100 years

THE British veterinary profession, if not actually born in a pub, was certainly conceived in one – at a meeting of the Odiham Society held in the George Inn of that town on August 19, 1785. The Reverend Thomas Burgess put several motions to the meeting; one of these was to lead to the establishment of the London Veterinary College and so to the creation of the profession.

Progress was initially slow, but five years later, under the influence of Granville Penn (grandson of William Penn of Pennsylvania fame), a London Committee was formed. The committee's first meeting was on November 3, 1790, at the Prince of Wales Coffee House, Hanover Square, but for its second meeting, two months later, it moved to the Blenheim Coffee House, New Bond Street, where, on February 18, the committee adopted the name ‘The Veterinary College, London’ and the Odiham Society withdrew from the scene.

By April 8, 1791, the committee was using the largest room at the coffee house and so moved again, on May 3, to the Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand. This establishment had been recently rebuilt and provided a home for innumerable clubs of literary, arts, political and other interests.

The address deserves to be remembered as the place where, on April 22, 1794, the student, Edmund Bond, after 18 months instruction, was examined by viva voce and was awarded the first London College Certificate that qualified him to practise the veterinary art. As his examination was held at 8.00 pm, one hopes that he …

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