The Mews Conference Centre, Cumberland Lodge

We launched the Cumberland Lodge Debate in autumn 2018, hot on the heels of our 70th anniversary, to bring our signature method of provoking candid discussion and debate to a more diverse audience, in central London.

Featuring a diverse panel of high profile leaders and influencers, the Cumberland Lodge Debate is now one of our most prestigious annual events. 

It takes place in autumn to mark the launch of our themed annual series of interdisciplinary conferences, consultations, seminars, workshops and retreats.

Panel debate

The panel debate format marks a departure from our more traditional annual lecture, which brought renowned speakers to Cumberland Lodge over many years, to speak to an invited audience on a social or ethical topic of national or global importance.

The Cumberland Lodge Debate brings together speakers and audience members of different backgrounds, generations and perspectives to openly exchange their views and experiences on a key aspect of social division, with the input of a skilled moderator.

Inaugural debate

Our inaugural Debate on 22 October 2018 tackled the contentious topic of ‘What should it mean to be British?’ with BBC presenter Evan Davis moderating the discussion. 

Our panellists debated what it is that binds Britain together as a nation, particularly at a time when attitudes towards identity and belonging are creating new lines of division. 

Live tweets from the event can be found at #CLBritish, and other audio-visual materials can be found on our social media channels and Learning Resources webpages.

Audio recordings

To listen to recordings of our Cumberland Lodge Debates in central London, please visit our SoundCloud channel, here.

You will also find recordings of previous annual lectures, keynote conference lectures, podcasts, seminars and interviews, on a wide range of topics relating to our charitable work.

Guest panellists and chairs

'Challenges for Democracy in the Digital Age' (2019)

  • Dr Katharine Dommett, Senior Lecturer in the Public Understanding of Politics, University of Sheffield
  • The Rt Hon the Lord Howell of Guildford, Life peer; author of Look Where We're Going: Escaping the Prism of Past Politics
  • Marnie Howlett, PhD candidate, Department of International Relations, London School of Economics and Politicsl Science; international student member, Goodenough College
  • Baroness Prashar of Runnymede, Life peer; Chair of Trustees, Cumberland Lodge (Chair)

‘What should it mean to be British?’ (2018)

  • Evan Davis, BBC news and current affairs presenter (Chair)
  • Anthony Heath, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Oxford
  • Magid Magid, Lord Mayor of Sheffield
  • Patricia O’Lynn, PhD candidate and Cumberland Lodge Scholar
  • Anne Wafula Strike MBE, British paralympian wheelchair racer

Former guest speakers

Between 2005 and 2017, this annual event took the form of a lecture, held in our conference centre at Cumberland Lodge. Our guest speakers included:

The Rt Hon Lord Finkelstein, Associate Editor and formerly Executive Editor, The Times - ‘The Arrow of History’, 2017

The RT Hon the Lord Hoffmann, former Lord of Appeal Ordinary - ‘The Power of Constitutional Fictions', 2015

Professor Sir Malcolm Grant CBE, Chair of NHS England - 'The Technological Revolution in Healthcare – Capturing the benefits for the NHS' in 2014

Dame Suzi Leather, former Chair of the Charity Commission - 'The five modern evils: what is the role for charity today?' 2013

Matthew Parris, columnist, broadcaster and former MP - 'The Moral Responsibility of the Media', 2012

HRH The Princess Royal - 'The Legacy of 2012 – Reflections on the Diamond Jubilee, the Olympic Games and the Paralympics', for our Diamond Jubilee Lecture, 2012

The Rt Hon Lady (Shami) Chakrabarti, former Director of Liberty, now Shadow Attorney General - 'Common Values: In Defence of the Human Rights Act', 2011

Sir Richard Gardner FRS, Royal Society Edward Penley Abraham Research Professor, University of Oxford - 'Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine – Prospects and Challenges', 2010

Sir John Tusa, former Managing Director of the Barbican Centre - 'The Arts: A Suitable Case for Treatment?' 2009

General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, British Army - 'The Military Today: A ‘Force for Good’ or a contradiction in terms?' 2008

Professor Alison Richard, Vice-Chancellor, University of Cambridge - 'Leadership and Change in a University', 2007

The Rt Hon Lord (Douglas) Hurd of Westall, former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs - 'Is there such a thing as an International Community?', 2006

The Rt Hon Lord Justice Laws, Lord Justice of Appeal, Visitor of Cumberland Lodge - 'Authority: Law and Religion', 2005