The oldest and largest student society in Durham. The Union was founded in 1842. The purpose of the Union was, and remains, a counterbalance to the collegiate system, allowing students from the University's different colleges to meet both to debate and socialise more informally. The first debates were held in the reading rooms of Hatfield Hall and University College. In 1872 the Society moved to what is now the Palace Green library, where the University’s first purpose-built debating chamber was established. The Union Society acted, at this time, as the central social unit for the students of Durham University. The Durham Students' Union was developed in 1899 to take on this role, though the DUS has retained its social side. The Union Society still maintains its offices and debating chamber on the Palace Green World Heritage Site, as well as 24 North Bailey. It hosts weekly debates featuring prominent external speakers, as well as inviting address speakers and holding social events. Recent speakers include the actress Imelda Staunton; BBC Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine; American political consultant and strategist Roger Stone; Channel Four newsreader Jon Snow; Archbishop of York John Sentamu; London Mayor Boris Johnson; Model and human rights campaigner Anastasia Lin; Radio host and counter-extremist activist Maajid Nawaz; former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan; Oscar nominated actor Patrick Stewart; Green Party Co-Leader Caroline Lucas and the former Taoiseach of Ireland, Bertie Ahern. The Society also excels at competitive debating, having won the European Universities Debating Championship in 2005, and more recently having teams reaching the final of the European Championship, Oxford IV, Cambridge IV and John Smith Memorial Mace and the quarter-final of the World Universities Debating Championship. It also hosts the prestigious Durham Intervarsity competition, the Durham Open and Durham Schools; the world's largest residential school's debating competition.