02 September 2020, The Tablet

Word from the Cloisters: staying with Friends

Word from the Cloisters: staying with Friends


THE PENN CLUB, which has been housing NHS key workers for free during the lockdown, is open again to tourists. Now in its centenary year, it is much loved by Tablet readers, who appreciate the competitive prices for a hotel handily placed just around the corner from the British Museum.

Founded a hundred years ago by veterans of the Friends Ambulance Unit, which had provided medical aid to British and French troops during the First World War, it maintains a Quaker ambience: stillness, simplicity, crisp white linen, and no lift.

The writer John Wyndham moved into the Club in 1925, paying £10 a month for a room, and didn’t check out till nearly 40 years later. He started writing science fiction after picking up a copy of the American pulp magazine Wonder Stories in the reading room, though he only became successful in the 1950s with the publication of The Day of the Triffids.

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