Welcome to the Kingston Debating Society. We are a small, very friendly group of people, with lively minds, who meet on Thursday evenings in Kingston upon Thames, south-west London.
Our meetings are held only in the winter months from October to March, with a break in the middle, as has been the case since our foundation in 1886. Details of the venue are given later on this page.
Do come and try our group. Your first two taster visits are absolutely free.
The society’s experiment with hybrid debates is proving very successful, with increased numbers. Members and visitors can attend our meetings in person (in the debating hall) or virtually (via Zoom).
We shall encourage principal speakers to come to the meeting that evening, unless they live too far away for this to be possible.
For more details please email the Zoom officer:
The list of motions for debate will be updated every October and January, ready for the forthcoming session. During the summer the debates held during the previous session will be displayed.
You can read about our style of debating and the types of subject we tackle on the debates page.
We have a diverse membership and do not adhere as a group to any political party or religious denomination.
Coming as a visitor
Newcomers, young and old, male and female, often say how welcome they feel on first coming as visitors.
If you would like just to listen and watch before getting to your feet, please do so. Many visitors choose to get the feel of our meetings for two or three weeks before speaking in debate.
While considering whether you would like to become a member you are free to take part as a speaker. If you are not used to speaking in public you may find that this friendly, unpressured style of debating enables you to gain in confidence. Most people do so very soon.
Visitors, whether in person or by Zoom, are welcome to attend for their first two visits free of charge. On third and subsequent visits we ask for a donation of £3.00 per visit.
Should you decide to join, the annual subscription is £35.00 a year. New members pay only £20.00 in the initial year of their membership.
This payment entitles you to come to all sixteen debates held each year, plus the annual general meeting in September, free of further charge. You also receive invitations to the annual lunch (or dinner) and the summer expedition, two popular events in the debating calendar.
We meet on Thursdays in central Kingston 7.45–10 pm:
The Methodist Church Hall, ground floor
Avenue Road, off Fairfield South, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 2UJ.
Details are on the map under Contact us.
Meetings begin at 7.45 pm. After allowing a few minutes for matters relating to the society’s management the President opens the evening’s debate. The meeting closes shortly before 10 pm.
The society has a long and very interesting history. You can read about it, and about the presidential badge of office shown on this page, under History.
A link at the foot of that webpage leads you to an absorbing study of the 48 men who belonged to the society in 1901. Written by one of our members, Dr David Kennedy, it is freely available to the public and makes fascinating reading.
Our autumn session runs from 19 October to 7 December 2023.
You can view the eight topics for debate under The Debates.
Hybrid debates are proving very successful. Members and visitors can choose to attend in person or by Zoom.