The Beginning

The Ancient Order of Druids as a modern social and Benevolent Society was inaugurated on the 29th November 1781.At the time the country was seething with both political and religious unrest in which debates and discussions more often than not led to blows and even bloodshed.

It was not very long since the Protestant Hanoverian Dynasty had replaced the all-but Roman Catholic Stuart ruling family. The once Bonnie Prince Charles still lived on the Continent as a bloated old man, toasted by British Jacobites as the “King over the water”, and anti-roman Catholic clashes led to such terrible excesses as the Gordon Riots, in 1780, the very year before our foundation, London was in flames and at the mercy of a drunken, bestial mob.

In politics, George IIIrd’s own crass obstinacy and his Cabinet’s stupidity had so antagonised the British North America Colonies that were in armed rebellion, and achieved their independence in 1782.

No wonder that almost any discussion that arose in any club or tavern soon led
To heated words, acrimony, anger and blows. Duels were still the order of the day among the better classes, and “the field of thirty steps”; an open space at the rear of the British Museum was a favourite duelling site, as also was Leicester Square. But, even in those days, there were persons who preferred peace and quietness, music and harmony, to blows and braggadocio, mouthing and bloodshed.

A number of gentlemen of this quiet frame of mind used to foregather at a Tavern in Poland Street, Off Oxford Street, called the “King’s Arms”. The fact that they could be interrupted by unwelcome visitors lead the group to hire a room from the host of the tavern where they could discus matters in peace and quiet as befitted their demeanour. This tavern still stands, and bears a plaque recording that A.O.D was revived there in 1781.

Click on the links below to read more about the historical phases of the order.