The London and Middlesex Archaeological Society (LAMAS) is a society founded in 1855 for the study of the archaeology and local history of the City of London and the historic county of Middlesex. It also takes some interest in districts that were historically in Surrey, Kent, Essex and Hertfordshire, but that now lie within Greater London. The Society receives support from the Museum of London, and works in close association with the Museum and with Museum of London Archaeology. It acts to some extent as an umbrella organisation to support smaller archaeological and local history societies in the Greater London area, and hosts an Annual Conference of London Archaeologists and an annual Local History Conference.
The Society was established in 1855 "for the purpose of investigating the antiquities and early history of the Cities of London and Westminster and the Metropolitan County of Middlesex". The inaugural meeting was held on 14 December 1855 at Crosby Hall, Bishopsgate. The primary instigators were George Bish Webb (who was already honorary secretary of Surrey Archaeological Society, established the previous year, and who became the first honorary secretary of LAMAS); and Rev. Thomas Hugo, curate of St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate (who became the first chairman of LAMAS). Other founder members included Charles Boutell, Henry Christmas, George Gilbert Scott, and Charles Roach Smith. Boutell served as honorary secretary from 23 July to 27 November 1857, but was dismissed for what was termed "improper" bookkeeping involving the disappearance of £56 15s received in subscription fees. Also active in the early decades were John Gough Nichols and Edward Brabrook (the latter eventually serving as President from 1910 to 1930). Sir Thomas Phillipps was an early supporter of the Society, but allegedly withdrew on learning that Hugo had expressed a wish to see the restoration of the monasteries.
Individual membership in the Society is open to all. In the early years, and until the late 1870s, membership seems to have stood at around 400. The total subsequently started to decline, falling to 277 in 1891, 163 in 1905, and 132 in 1911. It then began to recover, rising to 232 in 1939, 350 in 1950, and nearly 500 in 1955. The figure was 662 in 2004; 675 in 2010; and 593 in 2015.
Any archaeological or local history society in the Greater London area may become an Affiliated Society of LAMAS. As of 2016, there were 55 such affiliate members.
The Society's official journal is entitled Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society. It is published annually, and is issued free to members. All volumes to volume 60 (2009) have been digitised, and are freely available to download from the Society's website.
The historic numbering of the volumes of Transactions may cause confusion. The first volume was published in three parts between 1856 and 1860, and the final part of volume 6 appeared in 1890, these six volumes forming what is now known as the "first series". The next volume was completed in 1905, and was numbered as volume 1 of the "new series". This series continued to volume 11 (dated 1952). The decision was then taken to revert to the original scheme of numbering, and so the next volume, dated 1955, was numbered volume 18 (the numbers 12–17 being omitted). Volume 66 is dated 2015.
Since 1976, the Society has also published occasional monographs or collections of essays in its "Special Papers" series. The 17th volume in this series was published in 2014. The first 16 volumes have been digitised, and are available to download from the Society's website. Three additional volumes of Special Papers, dealing with excavations in Southwark, Lambeth and Staines, have been published jointly with the Surrey Archaeological Society.
The Society publishes a Newsletter, which is produced three times a year and sent to all members. It is also available in digitised form on the Society's website.
The Society awards small grants (envisaged as totalling approximately £3,000–£5,000 per annum) to support research into the archaeology and history of London and Middlesex. The grants are available to all full individual members of the Society. The scheme was inaugurated in 2005 to mark the Society's 150th anniversary.
The Society is joint sponsor and organiser (with the Merchant Taylors' Company) of the regular Stow Memorial Service, held in the church of St Andrew Undershaft in the City of London. This commemorates the antiquary John Stow, author of the Survey of London (1598; second edition 1603), who is widely revered as the founding father of London history. The service is normally held close to the anniversary of Stow's death on 5 April, and includes an address by a respected London historian or archaeologist, and the replacement of the (real) quill pen held by Stow's effigy on his monument in the church. The service was first held in its present form in 1924, and was then held annually until 1991, including the years of the Second World War. No services could be held in 1992 or 1993 because of damage to the church caused by the Baltic Exchange bomb of 1992. The service was revived in 1994, but since 1996 has been held only once every three years.
The following have served as presidents of the Society:1855–1860: Albert Denison, 1st Baron Londesborough
1860–1883: James Talbot, 4th Baron Talbot of Malahide
1883–1885: General Augustus Pitt Rivers
1885–1910: Edwin Freshfield
1910–1930: Edward Brabrook
1930–1942: Sir Montagu Sharpe
1943–1946: Edmund Byng, 6th Earl of Strafford
1947–1949: Harry Nathan, 1st Baron Nathan
1950–1958: W. F. Grimes
1959–1964: D. B. Harden
1965–1970: R. Michael Robbins
1971–1973: A. J. Taylor
1974–1976: Ralph Merrifield
1977–1979: Max Hebditch
1980–1981: Valerie Pearl
1982–1985: John Wilkes
1985–1988: John Kent
1988–1991: Derek Renn
1991–1992: Hugh Chapman
1992–1993: Derek Renn
1993–1996: Harvey Sheldon
1996–1999: Mark Hassall
1999–2002: Derek Keene
2002–2005: Clive Orton
2005–2008: Simon Thurley
2008–2011: Caroline Barron
2011–2014: Martin Biddle
2014– : John Clark