Crockford's was a London gentlemen's club, now dissolved. It was established in 1828, closed in 1845, re-founded in 1928 and closed in 1970. One of London's older clubs, it was centred on gambling and maintained a somewhat raffish and raucous reputation. It was founded by William Crockford who employed Benjamin Wyatt and Philip Wyatt to construct the city's most opulent palace of gentlemanly pleasure.
From 1823, the club leased 50 St. James's Street. After the club's closure, this continued to be used as a clubhouse, at first briefly by the short-lived Military, Naval and County Service Club, and then between 1874 and 1976 it was home to the Devonshire Club.
The current Crockfords casino, though using much of the "Crocky" imagery and high-end reputation, operates from an entirely different building at nearby 30 Curzon Street.
William Crockford was born on 13 January 1776, the son of William and Mary Ann Crockford, and was baptised at St Clement Danes in London on 12 February 1776. He began life working in his father's fish shop adjoining Temple Bar (at the original site of that landmark gate – now to be found aside St Paul's Cathedral). His ability at calculation was to stand him in good stead: he quickly took to gambling, and after a number of long sessions amassed a tidy sum – enough to launch himself into Regency clubland. He acquired a site in St James's Street and opened a building that was to become the most famous gaming house in Europe: "Crockford's". He fleeced the aristocracy and in the process amassed one of the greatest fortunes imaginable, certainly enough to establish homes at 11 Carlton House Terrace (later to become Prime Minister William Gladstone's home) and at Panton House, Newmarket.
He married first Mary Lockwood in 1801 and then Sarah Frances Douglas on 20 May 1812 in St George's, Hanover Square; he fathered 14 children and died on 24 May 1844. He lies buried in a family vault underneath the Chapel of Kensal Green Cemetery, London.
In 1928, the club was refounded primarily as a bridge club patronised by British players including world champion Terence Reese and Kenneth Konstam. Subsequently, chemin-de-fer, roulette and blackjack were added, reverting the club to its gambling traditions.
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