The first Round Table was formed in Norwich, England in 1927. The founder, Louis Marchesi, was a young member of Norwich Rotary Club who felt a need existed for a club where the young business men of the town could gather on a regular basis. At their meetings they could exchange ideas, learn from the experiences of their colleagues and play a collective part in the civic life of Norwich. Within a year of inception the membership of this Round Table had grown to 85 and interest was being shown in establishing Round Tables elsewhere. From a very early stage it was agreed that Round Table would be a non-religious, non-political club and this has continued to this day.
A second Round Table was established in Portsmouth and subsequent growth was rapid, with 125 Tables and a membership of 4,600 by the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. Round Table proved it had international appeal with the first overseas Table formed in Copenhagen in 1936. During the war years Round Table in Denmark continued to expand although in the British Isles activity was restricted and was in the nature of a ‘holding operation’.
After 1945 the pattern of growth was rapidly re-established with Tables being ‘chartered’ all over the UK. Royston and District Round Table was the 619th Round Table to be chartered. Today there are just under 1,000 Tables with around 10,000 members.
Round Table now flourishes in the majority of European countries, throughout Africa, the Middle East, India, Hong Kong, New Zealand and America. In fact Round Table is represented in every continent of the World. Great things grow from small beginnings.
Name and badge
Round Table owes nothing to Arthurian Legend, deriving both its title and its maxim from a speech made to the British Industries Fair in 1927 by the then Prince of Wales – ‘The young business and professional men of this country must get together round the table, ADOPT methods that have proved so sound in the past, ADAPT them to the changing needs of the times and wherever possible, IMPROVE them’.
To this day, the phrase “ADOPT, ADAPT, IMPROVE” is a key slogan of the organisation and is often seen on Round Table literature and regalia. The very fact that you see the words that were spoken in 1927 on a web site today proves that this process is still continuing.
Although this is claimed to be the Round Table of the mythical court of King Arthur, it is in fact a representation which was made in the 13th century and it was repainted in its present form for King Henry VIII
The table has for centuries been venerated by generations of tourists as the mysterious table of the ‘Once and Future King’ Arthur. Around the Table are the names of the 24 knights are written around the edge of the 5.5 metre diameter table, weighing 1200kg, surmounted by King Arthur on his throne.
Aims and Objects
The main aim of Round Table is FUN and meeting people from all walks of life, as well as organising fund raising events and community activities.
These principles are set out in the six ‘Aims and Objectives’ below. Five of them were established at Norwich in 1927 and the sixth (about international relationships) was added in the 1930’s as Round Table spread abroad. Apart from minor wording amendments they have remained the same since.
They are to:
- Develop the acquaintance of young men through the medium of their various occupations.
- Emphasise the fact that one’s calling offers an excellent medium of service to the community.
- Cultivate the highest ideals in business, professional and civic traditions.
- Recognise the worthiness of all legitimate occupations and to dignify each his own by precept and example.
- Further the establishment of peace and goodwill in international relationships.
- Further these objects by meetings, lectures, discussions and other activities