The Sewell-Hohler Syndicate Debate and  Conference Society

The Sewell-Hohler Syndicate is named respectively after Brian Sewell and (Edward) Christopher Hohler, both of whom served the Courtauld considerably in their own ways and days.


Brian Sewell, whose first death anniversary on 19 September 2016 witnessed the birth of this syndicate, was described by the Guardian and practically any other paper as “Britain’s most famous and controversial art critic”. His knowledge and acerbic wit, his good judgement and occasional unwiseness tickled even the curiosity of those whose interest in the art world had previously been non-existent.


The Independent writes of the equally opinionated Mr. Hohler that:


“He was by birth and by nature an aristocrat, whose opinions, although often politically incorrect, were always cogently expressed with wit and clarity.”


Even though Sir Anthony Blunt, then director, could not have found Hohler’s anarchic right-wing views sympathetic, he did nevertheless appoint him to resident medievalist at the Courtauld Institute. Today members of the Sewell-Hohler Syndicate continue this tradition of fairness. The Syndicate opposes the practice of shunning members or speakers whose thoughts may be deemed unagreeable, for nothing should be unarguable.


Unlike other student unions and societies throughout the land we do not seek to silence good people who hold ‘unfavourable’ or ‘unfashionable’ opinions. Indeed we advocate their right to speak, and endeavour to give them a platform. We view universities as cradles of civilisation where eccentricity must be allowed, and where the possibility of our ideas being challenged should be cherished. We treasure most of all the basic freedom of free speech.

Society Heads

Shayan J.A.R. Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn

Society Contact Details

Contact Us


Our office hours are 9.30am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday

0203 947 7676

Level 2

Courtauld Institute of Art

Vernon Square

Penton Rise