The British Council (originally called the ‘British Committee for Relations with Other Countries’) was founded in 1934. Our first overseas offices opened in 1938. 

This was a time when the status of the UK was changing dramatically. We were established to build new international relationships, based on mutual understanding rather than political or military dominance. 

In 1940 we were granted a Royal Charter

Our mission in the Royal Charter was stated as: “promoting a wider knowledge of [the United Kingdom] and the English language abroad and developing closer cultural relations between [the UK] and other countries”

Although the way we carry out our work has changed, the mission laid down in the Charter of 1940 still resonates today. 80 years on, we continue to address global challenges and create opportunities through our cultural and educational work.

Find out more about our past activities