Davy’s Attic

Rooms on the third floor have served as bedrooms to Sir Humphry Davy, Michael Faraday, and scientists delivering the Christmas Lectures.

When 21 Albemarle Street was adapted from a townhouse at the turn of the 19th century, the third floor bedrooms were intended for workmen who would come to the Royal Institution to learn how the advances of science could help in their profession. With time, though, they were occupied by employees of the institution and their families.

For example, Sir Humphry Davy slept in a room on this floor, as did his brother John and cousin Edmund with their wives. Later Michael Faraday did likewise. When he returned from touring Europe with Davy in 1815, he found to his surprise that his room had been taken over by the niece of the Royal Institution’s librarian. There followed a campaign to get her out, in which he finally succeeded.

Our rooms on the third floor, which we call Davy’s Attic, have been used as bedrooms for guest lecturers when they came to the Royal Institution to deliver Christmas Lectures. These have included Desmond Morris, David Attenborough and Carl Sagan. They later acted as office to Frank James, who was the Royal Institution’s Head of Collections and Professor of the History of Science.