Brooks's

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Brooks's
Brooks's
Formation 1764 (1764)
Type Gentlemen's club
Location St. James's Street, London, SW1A 1LN
Club Secretary Graham Snell[1]
Website www.brooksclub.org

Brooks's is a gentlemen's club in St James's Street, London. It is one of the oldest gentleman's clubs in London.

History[edit]

In January 1762 a private society was established at 50 Pall Mall by Messrs. Boothby and James in response to having been blackballed for membership of White's. This society then split to form the predecessors of both Brooks's and Boodle's. The club that was to become Brooks's was founded in March 1764 by twenty-seven prominent Whig nobles including the Duke of Portland, the Duke of Roxburghe, Lord Crewe and Lord Strathmore. Charles James Fox was elected as a member the following year at the age of sixteen. The club premises at 49 Pall Mall was a former tavern owned by William Almack as was the neighbouring 50 Pall Mall where the society had previously met and so the club become simply known as Almack's. These fashionable young men, known as Macaronis, would frequent the premises for the purposes of wining, dining and gambling.

In September 1777 William Brooks, a wine merchant and money lender who acted as Master, or manager, for Almack's, commissioned Henry Holland to design and construct a purpose built clubhouse at a site on neighbouring St James's Street. Paid for at Brooks's own expense, the building was completed in October 1778 and all existing members of Almack's were invited to join. Brooks's gamble paid off as all existing members swiftly moved into the new building and the club then took on Brooks's name as its own. Brooks himself however would not live long to enjoy his success, dying in poverty in 1782.

The new clubhouse was built of yellow brick and Portland stone in a Palladian style similar to Holland's early country houses. The main suite of rooms on the first floor consisted of the Great Subscription Room, Small Drawing Room and the Card Room. The interiors are in neoclassical style, the Great Subscription Room having a segmental barrel vault ceiling. The interior of the building remained fairly unchanged until 1889 when neighbouring 2 Park Place, which had been purchased a few years before, was converted and adapted as part of Brooks's.

The main historic attraction of Brooks's was its gaming rooms. At several tables in one, gentlemen would stake fortunes on whist and hazard. Gambling all night was common; all day and all night, not unheard of. When the stakes far exceeded any ordinary expenses, all the club accounts were commonly deducted from winnings, so that no bills were rendered to members. Numerous eccentric bets were and are made in the Brooks's betting book. One extraordinary entry from 1785 is "Ld. Cholmondeley has given two guineas to Ld. Derby, to receive 500 Gs whenever his lordship fucks a woman in a balloon one thousand yards from the Earth."[2] (However there is no further indication that the bet was paid, or even how they would check it if it was claimed.) Members' gaming, such as at backgammon, continues today, but somewhat less extravagantly.

In 1978 the St James's Club amalgamated with Brooks's, adding to its membership some European royalty, members of the British diplomatic corps and writers.

Notable former members[edit]

Born in the 18th century[edit]

Born in the 19th century[edit]

Born in the 20th century[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ward, Vicky (18 January 1995). "Who wants to be in the club, anyway?". The Independent (London). Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  2. ^ L. G. Mitchell's biography of Charles James Fox. Quoted in Google Books
  3. ^ Memorials of Brook's, from the foundation of the Club, 1764, to the close of the nineteenth century; Compiled from the records of the Club. Ballantyne. 1907. 
  4. ^ Mrs. Thatcher's Minister The Private Diaries of Alan Clark, p.9.
  • Edward Walford; Old and New London: Volume 4, pp. 140-164; 1878
  • F. H. W. Sheppard, ed.; Survey of London: volumes 29 and 30: St James Westminster, Part 1, pp. 325-338; 1960.
  • Christopher Hibbert; London, the Biography of a City; 1969; William Morrow, NY
  • Stella Margetson; Regency London; 1971; Praeger Publishers, Inc. NY
  • Ellen Moers; The Dandy: Brummell to Beerbohm; 1960; The Viking Press, Inc., NY
  • Philip Ziegler & Desmond Seward; Brooks's: a Social History, 1991.
  • Vic Gatrell, City of Laughter, Atlantic Books, 2006.
  • Robert Phipps Dod; Parliamentary Companion (various editions)

External links[edit]

Media related to Brooks's at Wikimedia Commons