The first Society bulletin, 1908.

The Society for Gentlemen Explorers was founded in the summer of 1908 by four friends fond of adventure, in the back room of the Viaduct Tavern, London, EC1

L-R:Henry Hardcastle, F.S.J. Taylor (“Fossie”), Lt. Sidney H. Bowers, Miss Evelyn Pembroke
The Viaduct Tavern; a pub with a secret in the cellar.

Far from a normal London pub, the Tavern had, and still has to this day, a peculiar secret. Situated across the street from the once infamous, but now demolished Newgate Prison, overcrowding saw extra jail cells burrowed underneath the road, and into what is now the cellars of the old Victorian gin palace.

Part of the original Newgate cells – ©LukeJSpencer

Discovering this remarkable secret over a century ago, the four friends decided to form a society dedicated to discovering other such hidden treasures, and to advocate good fellowship amongst other like minded explorers. From the first design in 1908, the Society logo has always sought to move with the times.

A hundred years later, the Society is still devoted to unearthing forgotten wonders, whether they are to be found under one’s very nose, or destinations far flung. 

The original Society code book, 1908.

Those interested in joining the S.G.E. should apply in writing to Club Secretary, Mr. H. Standfast, c/o

Historical note – from the outset, the Society has included intrepid female explorers, starting with one of the original founders, Miss E.Pembroke. The ‘Gentlemen’ in the society’s name has always referred to the desired code of conduct in the field.