Sir Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon, (1862-1933) was a noted ornithologist, a Fellow of ZSL and a member of Council (a trustee of ZSL) from 1921-1926 and 1928-1933, and Vice-President of ZSL. He was the UK’s Foreign Secretary from 1905 until 1916, the longest continuous time anyone has devoted to that role.
On the afternoon of Sunday 2 August 1914 he visited the birds at ZSL London Zoo as he often did when he was anxious. In his book The charm of birds p. 238 he stated `So when feeling is raised to an unusual height by contemplation of natural beauty, by something that quickens while it soothes and calms’.
For weeks Grey had been trying to avoid committing Britain to war but on Monday 3 August it all came to a head and his view changed, he realised war had become unavoidable. On that day the Belgian King appealed to George V to defend his country. Sir Edward Grey spoke in Parliament for about an hour, delivering a bleak message, European war was inevitable. On the evening of this speech he looked out from his office and delivered his now famous, sad sentence "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time".
On Tuesday 4 August 1914 Britain declared war on Germany.
Today birders and ornithologists are familiar with his name as the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology is named in his honour.
Further reading :-
The charm of birds / by Viscount Grey of Fallodon ; woodcuts by Robert Gibbings, London : Hodder & Stoughton, 1927
Edward Grey of Fallodon and his birds / by Seton Gordon, London : Country Life, 1937
Fallodon papers / by Viscount Grey of Fallodon ; woodcuts by Robert Gibbings, London : Constable, 1927
Great Britain’s great war / Jeremy Paxman, London : Viking, 2013
Grey of Fallodon being the life of Sir Edward Grey afterwards Viscount Grey of Fallodon / by George Macaulay Trevelyan, London : Longmans, Green and Co., 1937.
Sir Edward Grey : a biography of Lord Grey of Fallodon / Keith Robbins, London : Cassell, 1971.
Twenty-five years 1892-1916 / by Viscount Grey of Fallodon, K.G., London : Hodder & Stoughton, 1925.
This is the first of our `artefacts’ remembering the events of the First World War.
ZSL Library welcomes visitors - if you are a ZSL member please bring your membership card when visiting ZSL Library. If you are not a member of ZSL will need proof of address and photographic ID when you visit.
Use our online catalogue to find more detailed information about specific items in our holdings. It also contains links to relevant online resources:
Select a blog
Our people are our greatest asset and we realise our vision for a world where wildlife thrives through their ideas, skills and passion. An inspired, informed and empowered community of people work, study and volunteer together at ZSL.
A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo, bringing you extraordinary animal facts and exclusive access to the world's oldest scientific zoo.
Do you love wildlife? Discover more about our amazing animals at the UK's biggest zoo!
We're working around the world to conserve animals and their habitats, find out more about our latest achievements.
From the field to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.
A day in Discovery and Learning at ZSL is never dull! The team tell us all about the exciting sessions for school children, as well as work further afield.
Every month, one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the Month.
Read testimonials from our Members and extracts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine, Wild About.
The Chagos archipelago is a rare haven for marine biodiversity. Hear from the team about our projects to protect the environments in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).
ZSL works across Asia, from the famous national parks of Nepal to marine protected areas in the Philippines. Read the latest updates on our conservation.
An Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.