History of the BPS

The current B.P.S. was founded as the Northern British Pteridological Society in 1891, in Kendal, which was then in Westmorland. The meeting was set up by Robert Whiteside of Lancaster, and held in a room provided by Joseph Wiper, probably in his ‘Kendal Mint Cake’ factory.  Robert Whiteside’s rather ornate membership card is in the BPS Archive at World Museum Liverpool.

The original members were all from the north of England, but by the time of the first AGM in August 1892, there were members from other parts of the country, so the ‘Northern’ was dropped from the name. The first President was Dr Frederick Stansfield. Many other notable names from this early society are remembered in varietal names, amongst them Bolton, Barnes, and Stabler. The aim of the Society was to encourage the collection and raising of the best varieties of ferns.

Some of the proceedings of the early Society are available in our Special Publication, ‘Abstracts of Reports and Papers Read at Meetings 1894-1905’, and articles relating to the first 100 years of the BPS are collected together in our Special Publication ‘The History of British Pteridology 1891 – 1991’. Michael Hayward’s new book on ‘The Jones Nature Prints’ also contains a wealth of historical information. These books can all be purchased here.

Today, the Society has a world-wide membership, and supports gardeners, horticulturalists, field botanists, scientists, and artists, through publications, meetings, and social media.

The BPS Archive is currently being re-organised so that it will be a searchable resource for those wanting to discover more about the history of Pteridology. Links to scans of some of the archived items are on the right of this page, and we will be adding to them from time to time.  If you need to access the Archive for your personal research, contact our Archivist, Michael Hayward, for more information.

The website of the British Pteridological Society