History of The Study Society and Colet House
The Study Society* was registered in 1951 by the late Dr. F.C. Roles and his friends who had been associates of the Russian philosopher and author P.D. Ouspensky (1878-1947). Ouspensky was particularly interested in the inner life of civilisations and in the convergence of science, philosophy, art and religion in the service of truth. He was also very much concerned with the inner transformation of humanity as a matter of practical experience.
The Study Society was founded to carry on his aims and researches. He had also asked Dr Roles to look for a simple method of finding inner stillness that was suitable for people living ordinary active lives. Dr Roles fulfilled this aim in the early 1960s when he discovered a method of meditation and the knowledge associated with it, which is part of the Advaita or non-dualist school of philosophy, as taught by His Holiness, the late Shantanand Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Northern India.
The meditation and the knowledge associated with it are intended for people from all backgrounds religions and races. Membership of the Society, and of societies related to it abroad, ranges over all kinds of professions and ages, from those of student years upwards.
* The original name of the Study Society was The Society for the Study of Normal Psychology. It was then registered as a Friendly Society (No. 60SA). In 2014 the Society became a charity registered as 'The Study Society', a company limited by guarantee, with the Charity Commission, Registered Charity Number 1155498.
Colet House, home to the Study Society since 1957, has had a colourful history since it was first built in 1885. It was built on what was previously market gardens in what was then a leafy back water called Red Cow Lane, later to be named Colet Gardens. Its address changed to Talgarth Road in the 1960s when that road was extended to form a route to Heathrow. Colet Gardens got its name from the Renaissance scholar and Dean of St Paul's, John Colet who founded St Paul's school in 1509. In the 1880s, when Colet was built, St Paul's occupied local land and buildings in the immediate area, including land directly opposite now occupied by a further education college.
Colet House has the largest single studio in London, long enough to hold a cricket pitch, and two other substantial studios. It has been a workplace of many artists, notably Sir Frank Brangwyn RA (1867-1956) who described it as "a wonderful place... fit for Michelangelo himself..." and Sir Edward Burne-Jones RA (1833-1898) who was painting there to within hours of his death.
In the 1930s Colet attracted emigrés from post-revolution Russia and the ballet teacher Nicolai Legat from St Petersburg established his renowned school here, attracting dancers from all over the world. P.D. Ouspensky, philosopher, author and teacher of the Fourth Way stayed and lived here before and after World War II. During the war, the house was occupied by Naval Intelligence in support of General Montgomery's D-Day Planning HQ - which was across the road at St Paul's school. Later it became home to the Royal Ballet School, guided by Ninette de Valois and with Margot Fonteyn. The Study Society, dedicated to continuing Ouspensky's work, acquired the freehold in 1957.