Our history




I called the New World into existence to redress the balance of the Old.” – George Canning (1770-1827)

Founded in 1943, Canning House is the UK’s leading forum for informed comment, contacts and debate on Latin American politics, economy and business. We do this by way of a programme of events, publications and analysis which provide benefits for our corporate members. We also aim to share knowledge and insight with our individual members.

The name Canning House was adopted when the Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Councils established their original offices in Upper Berkeley Street in January 1947. It was chosen because George Canning, British Foreign Secretary from 1807 – 1809 and again from 1822 – 1827 is widely respected and admired in most of the countries of Latin America as their friend and supporter in the days of their struggle for independence, and as the man who led the governments of Europe to recognise the newly emerging republics established by San Martín and Simón Bolivar. George Canning was also briefly Prime Minister following the death of the Earl of Liverpool in 1827. 

The germination of the idea of a British centre for Latin American affairs began at least as early as the mid-1930s when the need became apparent to co-ordinate Britain’s commercial and cultural relations with Latin America. Lord Davidson, co-founder of Canning House, noted the financial weakness and political vulnerability of some of the most important investments in Latin America, such as the British owned railways in Argentina. He realised that the demand for an improvement in contacts with the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world extended beyond the traditional Anglo-Argentine connection. Many companies were interested in the potential resources and markets of Latin America.

During this time, Canning House also became a centre for language learning and today we still celebrate and promote awareness in the UK of the languages, culture and history of Latin America, Spain and Portugal.

Our Cultural Programme attracts the very best historians, writers and cultural figures to Canning House.

Today Canning House is the UK’s leading forum for informed comment, contacts and debate on Latin American politics, economy and business.

Canning House is the principal forum for conferences, seminars and off-the-record events, attracting ministers, ambassadors, senior officials, business and government leaders from Latin America and the UK.