Private Clubs England
Athenaeum Club Reform Club
England – Old Generation
The first set of clubs listed here are the original legendary gentleman’s clubs. It is where royalty and people of great wealth got together to impress with their dress, gossip and gamble.
Some of them are still in the dark ages and don’t allow women as members where others have seen the light and have allowed women to join even if it did take 200 years!
To become a member you need to know at least two other members who will present you to the board where they will make a decision to see if you are suitable before they let you join.
A super exclusive, private, invitation only club with 1300 members that includes HRH Prince Charles. Established in 1762, it has many facilities including games room, fine dining, cellar and luxurious accommodation.
A private men’s club since 1836 it only allowed women to join in 1981. The club was started by a Whig whip. (The Whigs were an old political party which eventually became the Liberal Party and a whip was a member. Who knew!)
Former members included authors H.G. Wells and Henry James, famous Victorian actor Sir Henry Irving and Winston Churchill who resigned in 1913 in protest of the blackballing of his friend Baron de Forrest.
The club was established to help pass the Reform Act 1832 which was to “take effectual Measures for correcting diverse Abuses that have long prevailed in the Choice of Members to serve in the Commons House of Parliament.” (If you understand what this means please let me know!)
White’s is the oldest and was the most exclusive of all the original clubs in London’s St James area. The club started in White’s Chocolate House in 1693.
It was a place where men of high society and royalty got together in their fashionable attire and gossiped, gambled and ate.
They stick to their old traditions enjoy their books in their library and have their servants fetch them everything. The number of members even after all these years still sits at around 500.
This is a photo of White’s famous bow window where Beau Brummell a member of the club sat with his fellow members until 1816 and passed judgment on anyone walking by.
The club was founded in 1823 for people in the scientific, literary or artistic arena and for their patrons who helped fund their projects. It was strictly a men’s club until 2002 when the dark ages were over and they decided to vote women in.
Members included Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin. Initially members were those who inherited wealth and status. They changed that by passing a new rule which allowed men in who had attained their success by their own means, through hard work and perseverance.
Rumour has it that the club has a sign that reads ‘Ties must be worn at all times’ below a nude statue.
The Hurlingham Club
This is an incredibly exclusive and ultra private club which was established in 1869. The waiting list to join the club is several years. For a candidate to join the waiting list they need to be proposed and seconded by two full voting members and even this still doesn’t guarantee them a place.
One of the glamorous events they host is in July and is called Salon Prive which is The Private Luxury and Supercar Show. It is a celebration of the best the automotive industry has to offer. It runs for 4 days and costs around £1100. This is definitely the place to be seen.
Chinawhite The Groucho Club
England – New Generation
This set of clubs belongs to the new generation. Members are celebrities, young royalty and the young rich. The clubs are havens for their members who go to socialise and to be left alone by the public at large and the horrible paparazzi. Both sexes are allowed to join but make sure you have a high profile or know a member or you won’t get in.
This is a glamorous and extremely prestigious member’s only dance club where the membership fee is £650 per annum with a joining fee of £700. You have to be assessed before you can join.
Image is everything and if you don’t make the grade than you don’t make the roster. Notoriously difficult to enter but once inside you may even catch a glimpse of a prince – Prince Harry.
Wednesday night might be the night to catch him and most celebrities there as it is strictly members only. (Photo coutesy of Chinawhite.)
The Groucho Club
Groucho Marx is the man this club was named after because of his famous remark that he would not join any club that would have him as a member. It was founded as an anti-establishment club in the mid 80’s and is only for the rich and famous.
It is a private club so the celebrity members do not get disturbed by members of the public.
It has a formal dining room, three bars, two restaurants, 19 bedrooms, a billiard room and four function rooms that can be hired and is said to be a super cool club where only the hippest celebrities go. (Photo courtesy of The Groucho Club shows the Brasserie.)
There is a waiting list of over 1000 people for this club with people desperately wanting to join. Members include Madonna, Hugh Grant, George Michael and Nicole Kidman. There is also a sister club in NY, Soho House – New York.