The Carlton building since 1940, formerly Arthur's club
|Purpose||Club established for the Conservative Party|
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. It later played a major role in the transformation of the Tory party into its modern form as the Conservative Party. The club lost its role as a central party office with the widening of the franchise after the Reform Act 1867, but remained the principal venue for key political discussions between Conservative ministers, MPs and party managers.
Where it was formed
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.
Carlton Club meeting
The club is most famous for the Carlton Club meeting of 19 October 1922, in which backbench Conservative MPs decided to overthrow their leader Austen Chamberlain and withdraw from the David Lloyd George–led coalition government. MPs voted 187 to 87 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.
Bombing by the Luftwaffe, and move to current building
The club suffered a direct hit during the Blitz on 14 October 1940, No-one was killed in the explosion, although the building was destroyed. The Carlton at once moved to its current premises, at 69 St James's Street, London, formerly the premises of Arthur's Club - one of the top St James'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 1960's 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. The leader of the Conservative Party is invited to become an honorary member. Iain Duncan Smith refused membership when it was offered to him.
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.
David Cameron accepted honorary membership of the club as of 22 May 2008. Thatcher was elected as the club's second president (the first was Harold Macmillan) in May 2009.
An entirely separate, unrelated Ladies' Carlton Club was established after the First World War as a social and political centre for women Conservatives. It closed in 1958.
The current chairman is Thomas Galbraith, 2nd Baron Strathclyde. A full history of the club was published to mark its 175th anniversary in 2007.
- 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, 1st Viscount 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 Hague
- Michael Heseltine
- Douglas Hogg
- Douglas Hogg, 1st 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
- Boris Johnson
- David Maxwell Fyfe
- Rudyard Kipling
- George Kynoch (currently 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
- Ann Widdecombe (first full female member, June, 2008)
- Sir Kingsley Wood
- Frederick Marquis, 1st Earl of Woolton
- George Wyndham
- "ConservativeHome's ToryDiary: Women to remain half-members at the Carlton Club". Conservativehome.blogs.com. 2007-05-19. Retrieved 2013-11-28.
- 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 and Nicholson, 1969)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
- "St. James's Street, West Side, Past Buildings | Survey of London: volumes 29 and 30 (pp. 459–471)". British-history.ac.uk. Retrieved 2013-11-28.
- "The Carlton Club". Traditional Gentlemen's Clubs of London. Retrieved 2017-06-29.
- "BBC Review of the IRA bombing". News.bbc.co.uk.
- "Sutton Index of Deaths". Cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 2013-11-28.
- Who Was Who, 1897–present (OUP, 2007)