Albemarle Club

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The Albemarle Club was a private members' club at 13 Albemarle Street, London, founded in 1874 and open to both men and women.

History[edit]

The club opened on 29 May 1874 with the aim to be available to both men and women. It formed under a committee formed of both sexes, under the presidency of James Stansfeld, Member of Parliament for Halifax.[1] It had initially set the limit for members at 600, with some 350 elected two weeks prior to opening.[2] The club came in for criticism because of its progressive view of women's rights, but also saw supporters join its ranks such as Edward Cortenay MP.[3] However, it was not immediately popular and by January 1879, it had to raise the subscription fees in order to make up the shortfall due to the lack of numbers.[4] A year later, it was said to have suffered from more withdrawals than new admissions and this was blamed on the poor quality of the food being served there.[5] However, by the end of the decade, memberships had reached 600 and the club was considering moving to larger premises.[6]

A rectangular calling card printed with "Marquess of Queensberry" in copperplate script.
The Marquess of Queensberry's calling card with the handwritten offending inscription "For Oscar Wilde posing Somdomite [sic]". The card was marked as exhibit 'A' in Wilde's libel action.

On 28 February 1895, the club became notorious for being the location of the incident that began the first trial of Oscar Wilde, who was a member of the Albermarle. The Marquess of Queensberry burst into the club, demanding to see Wilde.[7] His entry was blocked by the porter, so instead Queensberry left a calling card with the note "For Oscar Wilde, posing somdomite" (sic).[8][9] This resulted in Wilde's failed libel action and subsequent criminal prosecution.[10]

At the turn of the 20th century, the club remained successful with vacancies only usually arising through the deaths of current members.[11]

Because of the club's prominent place in the proceedings, and its being named at the trial, it fell into disrepute. Seeking to distance itself, it moved into Ely House at 37 Dover Street in 1909.[12] The site underwent a refit in 1910 to make the premises better suited to the club; it had previously been used as a residence for the Bishop of Ely.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Special Correspondence". Leeds Mercury (11589) (British Newspaper Archive). 2 June 1875. p. 8. Retrieved 22 September 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  2. ^ "Latest". Sheffield Daily Telegraph (6209) (British Newspaper Archive). 6 May 1875. p. 3. Retrieved 22 September 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^ "Archdeacon Matthias and Our "Wicked Women"". Isle of Man Times XVII (869) (British Newspaper Archive). 29 December 1877. p. 3. Retrieved 22 September 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ "The Albermarle Club". North & South Shields Daily Gazette XXX (7321) (British Newspaper Archive). 25 January 1879. p. 3. Retrieved 22 September 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ "Our London Letter". Dundee Courier & Argus (8373) (British Newspaper Archive). 21 May 1880. p. 4. Retrieved 22 September 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  6. ^ "London Letter". Sheffield Daily Telegraph (10664) (British Newspaper Archive). 21 December 1889. p. 5. Retrieved 22 September 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  7. ^ "A Scandal In High Life". The Yorkshire Herald (13649) (British Newspaper Archive). 4 March 1895. p. 5. Retrieved 22 September 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  8. ^ "The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde". Publishers Weekly. 27 October 2003. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "Marquis of Queensberry Charged With Libel". Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser (4504) (British Newspaper Archive). 13 March 1895. p. 8. Retrieved 22 September 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  10. ^ "The Prosecution of Oscar Wilde". The Citizen 20 (87) (British Newspaper Archive). 11 April 1895. p. 4. Retrieved 22 September 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  11. ^ "Clubs for Ladies". Cheltenham Looker-On (3580) (British Newspaper Archive). 1 November 1902. p. 16. Retrieved 22 September 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  12. ^ "Ely House". Mallett Antiques. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  13. ^ Randall, Katie (January 2013). "Treasure trove". Mayfair (14): 87–89. 

Coordinates: 51°30′32.8″N 0°8′30.9″W / 51.509111°N 0.141917°W / 51.509111; -0.141917