|Founder||Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, and others|
|Type||Private social club|
|Purpose||Club established for the Conservative Party|
|Origins||Carlton House Terrace, London|
The Carlton Club is a private members' club in St James's, London. It was the original home of the Conservative Party before the creation of Conservative Central Office. Membership of the club is by nomination and election only.
The club was founded in 1832, by Tory peers, MPs and gentlemen, as a place to coordinate party activity after the party's defeat over the First Reform Act. The 1st Duke of Wellington was a founding member; he opposed the 1832 Reform Act and its extension of the right to vote. The club played a major role in the transformation of the Tory party into its modern form as the Conservative Party. It lost its role as a central party office with the widening of the franchise after the Reform Act 1867, but it remained the principal venue for key political discussions between Conservative ministers, MPs and party managers.
The club was formed at the Thatched House Tavern in 1832 and its first premises were in Carlton Terrace (provided by Lord Kensington), from which it drew its name. These premises were quickly found too small. The second club house was situated near to the Reform Club at 94 Pall Mall, London, and was purpose-built in 1835. It was replaced by a third club house on the same site in 1856.
1922 Carlton Club meeting
The club is most famous for the Carlton Club meeting of 19 October 1922, in which backbench Conservative MPs decided to withdraw from the David Lloyd George – led coalition government. MPs voted in favour of discontinuing the coalition, after speeches from Bonar Law and Stanley Baldwin, with Baldwin saying that the fact Lloyd George was a 'dynamic force' was a danger to the stability of the Conservative party. Austen Chamberlain resigned as leader and Bonar Law formed a purely Conservative government.
Bombing by the Luftwaffe and move to current building
The club suffered a direct hit during the Blitz on 14 October 1940, Observers, including the diarist Harold Nicolson, noted Quintin Hogg (then a young Conservative MP, later the 2nd Viscount Hailsham) carrying his elderly, disabled father Lord Hailsham from the building like Aeneas carrying his father Anchises from the Sack of Troy; they had been dining together prior to the former's departure for active service in North Africa. The Chief Whip David Margesson, who was living at the Club since his recent divorce, was left homeless and had to sleep for a time on a makeshift bed in the underground Cabinet Annexe.
No-one was killed in the explosion, but the building was destroyed. The Carlton immediately moved to its current premises, at 69 St James's Street, London, formerly the premises of Arthur's Club – one of the premier Gentlemen's clubs, which had closed the same year, after 150 years of operations. The current Georgian clubhouse is architecturally important (Grade II* listed) and includes two elegant dining rooms, together with a collection of political portraits and paintings dating back to the 18th century, imported from ruins of the old club house and the former Junior Carlton Club (see below). The current Carlton has not retained any of the furnishings belonging to the building when it was Arthur's club, apart from the war memorial plaque in the entrance. There is a marble Arthur's Club World War I War Memorial to be found on the wall by the stairs in the main vestibule of St James's Church Piccadilly (designed by Wren). The walls of the Disraeli and Macmillan rooms and their windows at the back of the club were part of the fabric of the original White's Club building.
Junior Carlton Club
The Junior Carlton Club, which was entirely separate from the Carlton itself, was established in 1864 and occupied a large purpose-built club house, completed in 1869, at 30 Pall Mall, almost opposite the Carlton. This was sold early in the 1960s and part of the proceeds used to buy the site of the former Carlton Club building at 94 Pall Mall. The erection of the new clubhouse on this site in a modern 1960s prototype 'club of the future' led to mass resignations from that club. In December 1977 it formally merged with the Carlton Club, with negotiations conducted by Harold Macmillan.
Bombing by IRA
At 8:39 p.m. on 25 June 1990, the Carlton Club was bombed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), injuring more than 20 people. Lord Kaberry later died of his injuries received in the attack.
Many Conservative politicians have been members.
Traditionally, only men could become full members after being proposed and seconded by a number of current members. From the 1970s onwards, women were allowed to become associate members, meaning they were unable to vote. On becoming Conservative leader in 1975, Margaret Thatcher was made an honorary member of the club and, as such, until 2008 was the only female member entitled to full membership.
Margaret Thatcher was elected as the club's second president (the first was Harold Macmillan) in May 2009.
A full history of the club was published by historian Lord Lexden to mark its 175th anniversary in 2007.
Opposition to membership
The Prime Minister Arthur Balfour was a reluctant member, complaining of the club in the early 1900s.
The Carlton is a beastly club... but it must be suffered like long hours and constituents as a necessary though disagreeable accompaniment of a political career.
- Leo Amery
- Michael Ancram
- Stanley Baldwin
- Arthur Balfour
- Alexander Bruce, 6th Lord Balfour of Burleigh
- F. E. Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead
- Bonar Law
- William Bridgeman, 1st Viscount Bridgeman
- St John Brodrick
- Patrick Buchan-Hepburn
- Rab Butler
- David Cameron
- George Cave, 1st Viscount Cave
- Austen Chamberlain
- Neville Chamberlain
- John Colomb
- Harry Crookshank
- Philip Cunliffe-Lister
- Aretas Akers-Douglas, 1st Viscount Chilston
- Lord Randolph Churchill
- Winston Churchill (twice; a member 1900–5, resigned when he defected to the Liberal party, and rejoined from 1926 until his death)
- Ronald McNeill, 1st Baron Cushendun
- J. C. C. Davidson, 1st Viscount Davidson
- Jim Davidson
- Edward Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby
- Benjamin Disraeli
- Sir Alec Douglas-Home
- Sir Anthony Eden
- Walter Elliot
- Bolton Eyres-Monsell
- Christopher Gabbitas
- Sir John Gilmour
- William Ewart Gladstone
- William Hague
- Michael Heseltine
- Douglas Hogg, 1st Viscount Hailsham
- Douglas Hogg, 3rd Viscount Hailsham
- Quintin Hogg, Baron Hailsham of St Marylebone
- E. F. L. Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax
- Lord Claud Hamilton
- Lord George Hamilton
- Sir Samuel Hoare, 1st Viscount Templewood
- William Joynson-Hicks
- David Heathcoat-Amory
- Derick Heathcoat-Amory
- Edward Heath
- John Hick
- Boris Johnson
- David Maxwell Fyfe
- Rudyard Kipling
- George Kynoch (formerly Deputy Chairman)
- Alan Lennox-Boyd
- Geoffrey William Lloyd
- Selwyn Lloyd
- Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 6th Marquess of Londonderry
- Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry
- Walter Long, 1st Viscount Long
- Harold Macmillan
- Maurice Macmillan, Viscount Macmillan of Ovenden
- John Major
- Theresa May
- Percy Mills, 1st Viscount Mills
- William Morrison
- Walter Guinness, 1st Baron Moyne
- Gerald Nabarro
- Ronald Munro-Ferguson, 1st Viscount Novar
- Osbert Peake
- William Wellesley Peel, 1st Earl Peel
- Charles Ritchie, 1st Baron Ritchie of Dundee
- Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury
- James Gascoyne-Cecil, 4th Marquess of Salisbury
- Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury
- Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 7th Marquess of Salisbury
- Robert Sanders
- Guy Spier
- James Stanhope, 7th Earl Stanhope
- Sir Peter Tapsell
- Margaret Thatcher (honorary member)
- Peter Walker, Baron Walker of Worcester (former Chairman)
- William Walrond, 1st Baron Waleran
- Frederick Richard West
- Ann Widdecombe (first full female member, June, 2008 but no longer a member since standing for the Brexit Party in the 2019 EU election)
- Sir Kingsley Wood
- Frederick Marquis, 1st Earl of Woolton
- George Wyndham
- Sayeeda Warsi, Baroness Warsi (Honorary Member)
- "Carlton Club: History". carltonclub.co.uk. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
- Reader's Digest Illustrated Encyclopedia of Britain. 1999. p. 79.
- Survey of London: volumes 29 and 30: St James Westminster, Part 1 (1960), pp. 180–86, online at British-History.ac.uk (accessed 18 January 2008)
- Keith Middlemass and John Barnes, Baldwin (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1969)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 April 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- the event is also discussed in Their Finest Hour, Volume II of Churchill's History of the Second World War, p.285
- Stewart 2000, p.443
- "St. James's Street, West Side, Past Buildings | Survey of London: volumes 29 and 30 (pp. 459–471)". British-history.ac.uk. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
- "The Carlton Club". Traditional Gentlemen's Clubs of London. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- "BBC Review of the IRA bombing". News.bbc.co.uk.
- "Sutton Index of Deaths". Cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
- agencies, Staff and (27 December 2001). "Duncan Smith snubs Carlton Club over women". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
- Who Was Who, 1897–present (OUP, 2007)
- Hope, Christopher (21 September 2016). "Theresa May rejoins the historic Carlton Club 15 years after quitting over its women members' policy". The Daily Telegraph.
- Escott, T.H.S. (1914). Club Makers and Club Members. London: T. Fisher Unwin.
- Lejeune, Anthony (1979). The Gentlemen's Clubs of London. London: Wh Smith Pub. ISBN 0-8317-3800-6.
- Lejeune, Anthony (2012). The Gentlemen's Clubs of London. London: Stacey International. ISBN 978-1-906768-20-1.
- Phelps, Barry (1982). Power and the Party: A History of the Carlton Club, 1832-1982. Reading: Wembley Press.
- Petrie, Charles (1955). The Carlton Club. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode.
- Petrie, Charles; Cooke, Alistair (2007). The Carlton Club, 1832-2007. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode.
- Stewart, Graham (2000). Burying Caesar: Churchill, Chamberlain and the Battle for the Tory Party. London: Phoenix. ISBN 978-0-75381-060-6.
- Thévoz, Seth Alexander (2018). Club Government: How the Early Victorian World was Ruled from London Clubs. London: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 978-1-78453-818-7.