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The St James's Club was a London gentlemen's club which operated between 1857 and 1978.



The club was founded in 1857 by the Liberal statesman the second Earl Granville and by the Marchese d'Azeglio, Minister of Sardinia to the Court of St James's, after a dispute at the Travellers' Club.[1] Most members of the diplomatic corps resigned from the Travellers' and joined the new club.[1] The club's members continued to be largely diplomats and authors, and it became the home of the Dilettanti Society.

The name St James's Club had previously been used by the Travellers' Club. When the pioneer of photography William Fox Talbot (1800–1877) was elected in 1825 to the club at 106 Pall Mall, London, it was using that name.[2]

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica article Club, in 1902, the club was the smallest London gentlemen's club in terms of numbers[3] -

The number of members included in a London club varies from 2200 in the Army and Navy to 475 in the St James's club.


The St James's Club was first established in Charles Street, just off the south corner of Berkeley Square, London.[4] By 1878, it had moved into its clubhouse on Piccadilly which had previously been Coventry House,[5] the London residence of the Earls of Coventry since it had been bought by George Coventry, 6th Earl of Coventry from Sir Hugh Hunlocke in 1764, for 10,000 guineas.[5] Coventry House had been built in 1761[6] on the site of an old public house called 'The Greyhound Inn'.[5] The five-bay structure is neo-Palladian in style, with alternating pediments on the grand floor windows, over a rusticated ground floor. The Palladian window on the side façade lights a handsome staircase. There are ceilings by Robert Adam[7] in rooms on the piano nobile. Thomas Cundy the Elder effected some remodelling, probably in 1810-11.[8]

According to Charles Dickens, Jr, writing in 1879:[9]

St James's Club, 106, Piccadilly, W.—Ordinary members of this club are elected by ballot, but members of the corps diplomatique, of the English diplomatic service, and of the diplomatic establishment of the Foreign Office, may be admitted without ballot, under certain restrictions. The entrance fee is £26 5s.; the subscription £11 11s.; and carefully considered reductions are made in the case of members of the English diplomatic service who are employed abroad. The election is by ballot in committee; "six shall be a quorum, one black ball in nine, if repeated, and two above nine, shall exclude." The club occupies the premises once tenanted by the defunct Coventry Club.

During the Second World War, the club was briefly the home of Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond.[10]

The club was described by Charles Graves, writing of London clubs in Leather Armchairs (1963), as "the only one in London, or possibly anywhere else in the world, which has a separate room – and a large one at that – devoted solely to backgammon".[1]

The club was also well known as a London venue for chess matches.[11]

End of the Club

After the Second World War, the gentlemen's clubs of London fell into decline.[12] Facing financial problems, the club merged with Brooks's Club in 1978 and vacated its premises. The grand former club house at 106, Piccadilly, later became the headquarters of The International House network of language schools, founded by John Haycraft.[13] Since October 2007, it has been the London campus of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, a private intercontinental university based in Malaysia.[14]

A new establishment bearing the name St James's Club and Hotel, based in Park Place, London, has no connection with the original club.

Notable members

See also


  1. ^ a b c Graves, Charles, Leather Armchairs: The Chivas Regal Book of London Clubs (London, Cassell & Co. Ltd, 1963, with foreword by P. G. Wodehouse)
  2. ^ Letter to Fox Talbot from the St James's Club, July 28th, 1825 at (accessed 10 January 2008)
  3. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica, 10th Edition (1902): article on Club, online at Club at (accessed 18 January 2008)
  4. ^ a b c Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler at (accessed 10 January 2008)
  5. ^ a b c Walford, Edward, Mansions in Piccadilly, in Old and New London: Volume 4 (1878), pp. 273–90 (accessed 10 January 2008)
  6. ^ The date is on a lead cistern, according to Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, London, vol I (Buildings of England series; 2nd ed., 1962:573).
  7. ^ Lord Coventry also employed Adam in the country, at his seat of Croome Court, Worcestershire.
  8. ^ Pevsner, ibid..
  9. ^ Charles Dickens, Jr, Dickens's Dictionary of London (1879)
  10. ^ Life and Times of Ian Fleming at (accessed 10 January 2008)
  11. ^ Harley, Brian, Music and Chess in Music & Letters, Vol. 12, No. 3 (July, 1931), pp. 276–83
  12. ^ University of Notre Dame London Centre at (accessed 9 January 2008)
  13. ^ Obituary of John Haycraft at (accessed 10 January 2008)
  14. ^ Limkokwing University Campuses & Contact Centres at (accessed 10 January 2008)
  15. ^ SITWELL, Sir Osbert in Who Was Who 1897–2006 online (accessed 10 January 2008)
  16. ^ GOGARTY, Oliver St John in Who Was Who 1897–2006 online (accessed 10 January 2008)
  17. ^ VERNEY, Sir Harry (Calvert Williams) in Who Was Who 1897–2006 online (accessed 10 January 2008)
  18. ^ ERROLL, Victor Alexander Sereld Hay, 21st Earl of in Who Was Who 1897–2006 online (accessed 10 January 2008)
  19. ^ MACDONALD, Sir Murdoch in Who Was Who 1897–2006 online (accessed 10 January 2008)
  20. ^ LANGFORD, Arthur Langford Sholto Rowley, 8th Baron in Who Was Who 1897–2006 online (accessed 10 January 2008)
  21. ^ de GRUNWALD, Anatole in Who Was Who 1897–2006 online (accessed 10 January 2008)
  22. ^ Manuscripts Catalogue of the University of Glasgow (accessed 10 January 2008)
  23. ^ WAUGH, Evelyn Arthur St John in Who Was Who 1897–2006 online (accessed 10 January 2008)

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