Army and Navy Club

Coordinates: 51°30′23″N 0°08′09″W / 51.5063°N 0.1357°W / 51.5063; -0.1357
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Army and Navy Club
Formation1837 (1837)
HeadquartersClubhouse occupied since 1851
Army and Navy officers

The Army and Navy Club in London is a private members club founded in 1837, also known informally as The Rag.[1]

Foundation and membership[edit]

The club was founded by Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Barnes (1776–1838) in 1837.[2] His proposal was to establish an Army Club, with all officers of Her Majesty's Army on full or half pay eligible for membership.[2] However, when The Duke of Wellington was asked to be a patron, he refused unless membership was also offered to officers of the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines, and this was agreed.[2] On 28 August 1837 a meeting representing the various services took place, to elect a Committee and to settle the new club's Rules.[2]

Sir Edward Barnes died on 19 March 1838, just two weeks before the first general meeting of the club.[2]

By 1851, the club was in a strong position, with sixteen hundred members and a waiting list of 834.[3] This pressure led to the founding of the separate Naval and Military Club in 1862.

The Army & Navy Club House, Pall Mall, engraving from The Stationers Company's Almanac for 1875

Charles Dickens Jr. reported in Dickens's Dictionary of London (1879):[4]

Army and Navy Club, Pall Mall. — Is instituted for the association of commissioned officers of all ranks in Her Majesty’s Regular Army, Royal Navy, and Royal Marines. Election by ballot in club meeting. Thirty members must actually vote, and one black ball in ten excludes. Entrance fee, £40; subscription, £7 7S. for old members; but the following resolution was carried at the annual meeting of the club on the 3rd June, 1878: "All new members who are elected to the club, commencing with the next ballot, shall pay an annual subscription at £10 10s."

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica article "Club", in 1902,[5]

The largest income ... may be stated to be that of the Army and Navy club, which in the year 1875 amounted to £30,813, of which £19,383 was raised by entrance fees and subscriptions alone. The expenditure is, however, most commonly of nearly equal amount, and of few of the clubs can it be said that they are entirely free from debt. 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.

Membership of the Army and Navy Club is now offered also to members of Commonwealth armed services, to members' immediate families and to individuals who have no service background who are nominated and seconded by existing members.[1] There are some female members.

As of 2011, the membership subscription costs between £223 and £465 per year, with a £130 rate for younger members (under 29); there are reduced rates for spouses and a rate for family membership. There are joining fees.[6]


St James's Square and Pall Mall in 1799


The club's first home was at 18, St James's Square, at the north corner with King Street.[2] This house was vacated by the Oxford and Cambridge Club when it moved into its new club house in Pall Mall. A lease was taken and the club opened its doors early in 1838.[2]

In 1843, the club began to search for a site to build a purpose-built club house.[2] In 1846, it moved to larger premises called Lichfield House, now 15, St James's Square.[2]

In 1846–1847, the club bought six adjacent freehold houses in Pall Mall, St James's Square, and George Street, at the west corner of Pall Mall and George Street, for a total of £48,770.[2] Of this, £19,500 was paid for Lord de Mauley's house on the west side of St James's Square dating from the 1670s, immediately opposite Norfolk House.[2] It would now have been Number 22, St James's Square, if it had survived.[2] The St James's Square site was granted on 24 March 1672/3 by Henry Jermyn, 1st Earl of St Albans and Baptist May to trustees for Edward Shaw.[2] In October 1673, they sold the land and the house which had been built on it to the actress Moll Davis, a mistress of King Charles II, for £1800.[2] This house (which was surveyed by John Soane in 1799) was almost square and had three storeys, each with four evenly-spaced windows, all dressed with a wide architrave and cornice.[2] The staircase hall was south of a large room in front, and two smaller rooms and a secondary staircase at the rear. There was a massive cross-wall, containing the fireplaces of the back rooms.[2] In 1749, John Hobart, 1st Earl of Buckinghamshire, sold the house to Thomas Brand of Hertfordshire for £4500, whose son sold it in 1799 to Samuel Thornton, a director of the Bank of England.[2] In 1818, Thornton sold the house for £11,000 to the Whig politician W. S. Ponsonby, later Baron de Mauley, who sold it to the Army and Navy Club in October 1846 for £19,500.[2] It was demolished in 1847, having survived longer than any other of the other original houses in the square.[2]

Club houses[edit]

Outside statue

It was reported in January 1847 that the club would hold an open competition for the design of its planned new building, with prizes of £200 and £100 for the two best entrants.[7] The club committee initially chose a design by the sporting artist George Tattersall, of St James's Street, who planned a two-storey classical building with Corinthian columns and a crowning balustrade ending with martial trophies and a Doric entrance portico of three bays. As well as various statues in niches, over the portico he drew a pedestal with bas-reliefs, surmounted by lions and a group symbolising Britannia and Neptune. This choice was confirmed by a ballot of the club members in April 1847.[2] However, The Builder pilloried the choice, pointing out that "the space devoted to the purposes of the club is very meagre, indeed quite insufficient".[8] The club held an extraordinary general meeting on 11 May 1847 and decided to buy another house in Pall Mall to make its site larger, and also to hold another competition.[2] As a result, a design by C. O. Parnell[9] and Alfred Smith was chosen, an essay in the Venetian Renaissance style of the early sixteenth century, imitating Venice's Palazzo Corner della Ca' Grande.[2]

Building began in March 1848, William Trego having contracted to deliver the club house structure for £19,656.[10] The foundation stone was laid on 6 May 1848 by the chairman of the committee, Lt-Col. Daniell.[2] In August 1849 Messrs. Smith and Appleford were instructed to equip the building for £15,671, and the club-house was opened on 25 February 1851.[2] The club was faced with Caen stone, but this decayed, and in 1886 the bad stone had to be cut out and replaced with Portland.[2]

An early description of the new club house appears in John Timbs's Curiosities of London (1855)[11] -

ARMY AND NAVY CLUB-HOUSE, Pall Mall, corner of George-street, designed by Parnell and Smith, was opened February, 1851. The exterior is a combination from Sansovino's Palazzo Cornaro, and Library of St. Mark at Venice; but varying in the upper part, which has Corinthian columns, with windows resembling arcades filling up the intercolumns; and over their ached headings are groupes of naval and military symbols, weapons, and defensive armour — very picturesque. The frieze has also effective groupes symbolic of the army and navy; the cornice, likewise very bold, is crowned by a massive balustrade. The basement, from the Cornaro, is rusticated; the entrance being in the centre of the east or George-street front, by three open arches, similar in character to those in the Strand front of Somerset House. The whole is extremely rich in ornamental detail. The hall is fine; the coffee-room, 82 feet (25 m) by 39 feet (12 m), is panelled with scagliola, and has a ceiling enriched with flowers, and pierced for ventilation by heated flues above; adjoining is a room lighted by a glazed plafond; next is the house dining-room, decorated in the Munich style; and more superb is the morning room, with its arched windows, and mirrors forming arcades and vistas innumerable. A magnificent stone staircase leads to the library and evening rooms; and in the third story are billiard and card rooms; and a smoking room, with a lofty dome elaborately decorated in traceried Moresque. The apartments are adorned with an equestrian portrait of Queen Victoria, painted by Grant, R.A. A piece of Gobelin tapestry (Sacrifice to Diana), presented to the Club in 1849 by Prince Louis Napoleon; marble busts of William IV and the Dukes of Kent and Cambridge; and several life-size portraits of naval and military heroes. The Club-house is provided with twenty lines of Whishaw's Telekouphona, or Speaking Telegraph, which communicate from the Secretary's room to the various apartments. The cost of this superb edifice, exclusive of fittings, was 35,000l; the plot of ground on which it stands cost the Club 52,000l.

The Palazzo Corner, Venice, which inspired the design of the first club-house's exterior

In 1857, a stained-glass window was installed in the inner hall to commemorate members killed in the Crimean War, with tablets bearing the badge of the club and details of the battles of the war. The names of the fallen were inscribed in gold letters on marble architraves.[2] The window was moved in 1925 and 1927, due to rebuilding.[2]

In 1878–79, a new dining-room built, the smoking-room was enlarged, and the club-house was renovated, all by H. R. Gough.[12]

Demand for bedrooms increased, and in 1919 the club bought numbers 46, 46a and 47, Pall Mall, subject to existing short leases, later adding to them 7, Rose and Crown Yard (just north of 47, Pall Mall) in 1924.[13] A new building was designed by C. W. Ferrier and work on it began late in 1924. The old smoking-room was demolished and a new one built, a new kitchen constructed, and the exterior stone of the old club house was renovated. The new house, which connected with the back of the club house at the end of the new smoking-room, provided a squash court, a ladies' drawing-room and dining-room, and shop premises, as well as bedrooms. The club house was closed to members for a year, between August 1925 and July 1926, and the cost of the whole scheme was £167,471. Work was finished in March 1927.[14]

The historic club house was replaced by the present mid-twentieth century building,opened 1963, described on the club's web site as "a modern purpose built building extending to almost 80,000 square feet (7,400 m2), on ten floors which includes its own underground garage".[1]


Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, third President of the club

Notable members[edit]

General Sir Richard Dannatt (born 1950) Chief of the General Staff

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Main page of Army and Navy Club web site at (accessed 18 January 2008)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab 'St James's Square: Army and Navy Club', in Survey of London, volumes 29 and 30 (St James Westminster, Part 1 (1960)) pp. 180-186, online at St James's Square: Army and Navy Club at 18 January 2008)
  3. ^ Firebrace, The Army and Navy Club 1837–1933, London, 1934, p. 43
  4. ^ Charles Dickens Jr., Dickens's Dictionary of London (1879) quoted at Victorian London – Directories – Dickens's Dictionary of London, by Charles Dickens, Jr., 1879 – "Army and Navy Club" (accessed 18 January 2008)
  5. ^ Webster,James Claude, in Encyclopædia Britannica, 10th Edition (1902), article on "Club", online at Club at (accessed 18 January 2008)
  6. ^ "Become a member of the Rag".
  7. ^ The Builder, 9 January 1847, p. 18
  8. ^ The Builder, 1 May 1847, p. 205, and 8 May 1847, pp. 213–15
  9. ^ Parnell's success was a factor in his securing the commission for the Whitehall Club, 1866, in premises at 47, Parliament Street, that were substantially altered for Pearson's in 1907-08 and are now occupied by Parliamentary offices.(The Parliament Street Buildings Archived 17 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine, pdf file, accessed 23 January 2008).
  10. ^ Firebrace, op. cit., p. 41
  11. ^ Timbs, John, Curiosities of London: exhibiting the most rare and remarkable objects of interest in the metropolis; with nearly Fifty Years' Personal Recollections (London, David Bogue, 1855), p. 190
  12. ^ Firebrace, op. cit., pp. 76–81
  13. ^ Firebrace, op. cit., pp. 142-143
  14. ^ Firebrace, op. cit., pp. 137-146
  15. ^ CAMBRIDGE, George William Frederick Charles, 2nd Duke of in Who Was Who 1897–1915 (London, A. & C. Black, 1988 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-2670-4)
  16. ^ OTWAY, Rt Hon. Sir Arthur John, 3rd Bt. in Who Was Who 1897–1915 (London, A. & C. Black, 1988 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-2670-4)
  17. ^ LYONS, Sir Algernon McLennan GCB in Who Was Who 1897–1915 (London, A. & C. Black, 1988 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-2670-4)
  18. ^ WHITE, Field-Marshal Sir George Stuart in Who Was Who 1897–1915 (London, A. & C. Black, 1988 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-2670-4)
  19. ^ WOOD, Field-Marshal Sir (Henry) Evelyn in Who Was Who 1916–1928 (London, A. & C. Black, 1992 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-3143-0)
  20. ^ GRENFELL, Francis Wallace Grenfell, 1st Baron in Who Was Who 1916–1928 (London, A. & C. Black, 1992 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-3143-0)
  21. ^ AILESBURY, Henry Augustus Brudenell-Bruce, 5th Marquess of in Who Was Who 1897–1915 (London, A. & C. Black, 1988 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-2670-4)
  22. ^ NICHOLSON, William Gustavus Nicholson, 1st Baron in Who Was Who 1916–1928 (London, A. & C. Black, 1992 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-3143-0)
  23. ^ de ROBECK, Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Michael, 1st Bt in Who Was Who 1916–1928 (London, A. & C. Black, 1992 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-3143-0)
  24. ^ BIRDWOOD, William Riddell Birdwood, 1st Baron in Who Was Who 1951–1960 (London, A. & C. Black, 1984 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-2598-8)
  25. ^ JACOB, Field-Marshal Sir Claud (William) in Who Was Who 1941–1950 (London, A. & C. Black, 1980 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-2131-1)
  26. ^ PEYTON, General Sir William Eliot, in Who Was Who (London, A. & C. Black)
  27. ^ William Eliot Peyton at the web site of the CENTRE FOR FIRST WORLD WAR STUDIES online at (accessed 19 January 2008)
  28. ^ TRENCHARD, Hugh Montague Trenchard, 1st Viscount in Who Was Who 1951–1960 (London, A. & C. Black, 1984 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-2598-8)
  29. ^ CHATFIELD, Alfred Ernle Montacute Chatfield, 1st Baron in Who Was Who 1961–1970 (London, A. & C. Black, 1979 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-2008-0)
  30. ^ DEVERELL, Field Marshal Sir Cyril John in Who Was Who 1941–1950 (London, A. & C. Black, 1980 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-2131-1)
  31. ^ POPHAM, (Henry) Robert (Moore) Brooke- in Who Was Who 1951–1960 (London, A. & C. Black, 1984 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-2598-8)
  32. ^ ALANBROOKE, Alan Francis Brooke, 1st Viscount in Who Was Who 1961–1970 (London, A. & C. Black, 1979 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-2008-0)
  33. ^ GORT, John Standish Surtees Prendergast Vereker, 6th Viscount in Who Was Who 1941–1950 (London, A. & C. Black, 1980 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-2131-1)
  34. ^ Caccia, Ivana (2006). "The Making of a Specialist". Managing the Canadian Mosaic: Dealing with the Cultural Diversity during the WWII Years (PDF). University of Ottawa. pp. 158–203. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  35. ^ HARDING OF PETHERTON, Allan Francis (John) Harding, 1st Baron in Who's Who 1989 (London, A. & C. Black, 1989)
  36. ^ AUCHINLECK, Field-Marshal Sir Claude John Eyre in Who's Who 1981 (London, A. & C. Black, 1981)
  37. ^ BEGG, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Varyl (Cargill) in Who Was Who 1991–1995 (London, A. & C. Black, 1996: ISBN 0-7136-4496-6 )
  38. ^ THORNEYCROFT, George Edward Peter Thorneycroft, Baron in Who Was Who 1991–1995 (London, A. & C. Black, 1996: ISBN 0-7136-4496-6)
  39. ^ BAKER, Field-Marshal Sir Geoffrey Harding in Who Was Who 1971–1980 (London, A. & C. Black, 1989 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-3227-5)
  40. ^ NABARRO, Sir Gerald (David Nunes) in Who Was Who 1971–1980 (London, A. & C. Black, 1989 reprint: ISBN 0-7136-3227-5)
  41. ^ HILL-NORTON, Admiral of the Fleet Peter John Hill-Norton, Baron in Who Was Who 2001–2005 (London, A. & C. Black, 2006: ISBN 0-7136-7601-9)
  42. ^ BRAMALL, Field Marshal Edwin Noel Westby Bramall, Baron in Who's Who 2007 (London, A. & C. Black, 2007)
  43. ^ June 2006 Archived 7 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine at
  44. ^ HIBBERT, Christopher, in Who's Who 2007 (London, A. & C. Black, 2007)
  45. ^ FIELDHOUSE, John David Elliott Fieldhouse, Baron, in Who Was Who 1991–1995 (London, A. & C. Black, 1996: ISBN 0-7136-4496-6 )
  46. ^ INGE, Field Marshal Peter Anthony Inge, Baron in Who's Who 2007 (London, A. & C. Black, 2007)
  47. ^ BATHURST, Admiral of the Fleet Sir (David) Benjamin in Who's Who 2007 (London, A. & C. Black, 2007)
  48. ^ 'Gooch, Brig. Sir Arthur (Brian Sherlock Heywood)' in Who's Who (UK) for 2008 (online edition)
  49. ^ ROBERTSON OF PORT ELLEN, George Islay MacNeill Robertson, Baron cr 1999 (Life Peer) of Islay in Argyll and Bute in Who's Who 2007 (London, A. & C. Black, 2007)
  50. ^ DANNATT, Gen. Sir (Francis) Richard in Who's Who 2007 (London, A. & C. Black, 2007)

External links[edit]

51°30′23″N 0°08′09″W / 51.5063°N 0.1357°W / 51.5063; -0.1357