St James's Club

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The St James's Club was a London gentlemen's club which operated between 1857 and 1978.


The club was founded in 1857 by the Liberal statesman the second Earl Granville and by the Marchese d'Azeglio, Minister of Sardinia to the Court of St. James's, after a dispute at the Travellers' Club.[1] Most members of the diplomatic corps resigned from the Travellers' and joined the new club.[1] The club's members continued to be largely diplomats and authors, and it became the home of the Dilettanti Society.

The name St James’s Club had previously been used by William Crockford as the official name of his gambling ‘hell’ in 1823 when he acquired the lease to 50 St James’s Street. In the next two years he also acquired the leases to nos. 51-53, and when he pulled these down he transferred the Club to 106 Pall Mall. When the pioneer of photography William Fox Talbot (1800–1877) was elected in 1825 to the St James's Club it was already using the 106 Pall Mall premises,[2] where it remained until late 1826. At about the time part of the Guards Club premises at 49 St James’s Street collapsed on 9 November 1826 [3] as a result of the rebuilding of Crockford’s Club next door, Crockford evidently moved the Club out of 106 Pall Mall, as the Guards Club was able to move into it within a few weeks, and it remained there until it returned to 49 St James’s Street in November 1827. (The Traveller’s Club only moved from 49 Pall Mall into 106 after the old building had been pulled down in 1829 and its new premises, designed by Charles Barry, had been completed by July 1832.) Crockford’s palatial premises for his St James’s Club, taking up the entire site of 50-53 St James’s Street, was opened in mid November 1827 [4] and closed on 1 January 1846.[5]

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica article Club, in 1902, the club was the smallest London gentlemen's club in terms of numbers[6] -


The St James's Club was first established in Charles Street, just off the south corner of Berkeley Square, London.[7] By 1868, it had moved into its clubhouse on Piccadilly which had previously been Coventry House,[8] the London residence of the Earls of Coventry since it had been bought by George Coventry, 6th Earl of Coventry from Sir Hugh Hunlocke in 1764, for 10,000 guineas.[8] Coventry House had been built in 1761[9] on the site of an old public house called 'The Greyhound Inn'.[8] The five-bay structure is neo-Palladian in style, with alternating pediments on the grand floor windows, over a rusticated ground floor. The Palladian window on the side façade lights a handsome staircase. There are ceilings by Robert Adam[10] in rooms on the piano nobile. Thomas Cundy the Elder effected some remodelling, probably in 1810-11.[11]

According to Charles Dickens, Jr., writing in 1879:[12]

During the Second World War, the club was briefly the home of Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond.[15]

The club was described by Charles Graves, writing of London clubs in Leather Armchairs (1963), as "the only one in London, or possibly anywhere else in the world, which has a separate room – and a large one at that – devoted solely to backgammon".[1]

The club was also well known as a London venue for chess matches.[16]

End of the club[edit]

After the Second World War, the gentlemen's clubs of London fell into decline.[17] Facing financial problems, the club merged with Brooks's Club in 1978 and vacated its premises. The grand former club house at 106, Piccadilly, later became the headquarters of The International House network of language schools, founded by John Haycraft.[18] Since October 2007, it has been the London campus of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, a private intercontinental university based in Malaysia.[19] From September 2017, it will be home to Eaton Square Upper School.[20]

The club has since been revived[citation needed] under the name St James's Club and Hotel, and is based in Park Place, London. A St James's Club in Manchester has no connection.

Notable members[edit]

·Sir Osbert Lancaster cartoonist, stage designer and author [31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Graves, Charles, Leather Armchairs: The Chivas Regal Book of London Clubs (London, Cassell & Co. Ltd, 1963, with foreword by P. G. Wodehouse)
  2. ^ Letter to Fox Talbot from the St James's Club, July 28th, 1825 at (accessed 10 January 2008)
  3. ^ Morning Post, 10 November 1826, p. 2.
  4. ^ See Berkshire Chronicle, 8 February 1828, p. 4 , ‘Chronology of the Principal Events during the Year 1827’ entry for 12 November: ‘About this time Crockford’s new Hell opens’.
  5. ^ Letter dated 24 December 1845 from R. W. Graham to Thomas Duncombe, in Thomas Slingsby Duncombe, Life & Correspondence, 1868, quoted in A. L. Humphreys, Crockford’s, or The Goddess of Chance in St. James’s Street 1828-1844, London: Hutchinson, 1953, pp. 199-200. ‘It is all over with Crocky’s, and the place is to be closed on the 1st January; and it appears there is no intention to form another club out of it.'
  6. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, 10th Edition (1902): article on Club, online at Club at (accessed 18 January 2008)
  7. ^ a b c Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler Archived 18 July 2004 at at (accessed 10 January 2008)
  8. ^ a b c Walford, Edward, Mansions in Piccadilly, in Old and New London: Volume 4 (1878), pp. 273–90 (accessed 10 January 2008)
  9. ^ The date is on a lead cistern, according to Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, London, vol I (Buildings of England series; 2nd ed., 1962:573).
  10. ^ Lord Coventry also employed Adam in the country, at his seat of Croome Court, Worcestershire.
  11. ^ Pevsner, ibid..
  12. ^ Charles Dickens, Jr., Dickens's Dictionary of London (1879)
  13. ^ Daily News (London), 22 May 1846, p.4f.
  14. ^ The Examiner, 18 February 1854, p. 108.
  15. ^ Life and Times of Ian Fleming at (accessed 10 January 2008)
  16. ^ Harley, Brian, Music and Chess in Music & Letters, Vol. 12, No. 3 (July, 1931), pp. 276–83
  17. ^ University of Notre Dame London Centre at (accessed 9 January 2008)
  18. ^ Obituary of John Haycraft at (accessed 10 January 2008)
  19. ^ Limkokwing University Campuses & Contact Centres Archived 31 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine. at (accessed 10 January 2008)
  20. ^ Rupert Neate (21 July 2017). "Fit for an oligarch: school for the super-rich opens in London's Mayfair | Education". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 July 2017. 
  21. ^ SITWELL, Sir Osbert in Who Was Who 1897–2006 online (accessed 10 January 2008)
  22. ^ Who's Who. Adam and Charles Black. 1951. p. 2619. 
  23. ^ GOGARTY, Oliver St John in Who Was Who 1897–2006 online (accessed 10 January 2008)
  24. ^ VERNEY, Sir Harry (Calvert Williams) in Who Was Who 1897–2006 online (accessed 10 January 2008)
  25. ^ ERROLL, Victor Alexander Sereld Hay, 21st Earl of in Who Was Who 1897–2006 online (accessed 10 January 2008)
  26. ^ MACDONALD, Sir Murdoch in Who Was Who 1897–2006 online (accessed 10 January 2008)
  27. ^ LANGFORD, Arthur Langford Sholto Rowley, 8th Baron in Who Was Who 1897–2006 online (accessed 10 January 2008)
  28. ^ de GRUNWALD, Anatole in Who Was Who 1897–2006 online (accessed 10 January 2008)
  29. ^ Manuscripts Catalogue of the University of Glasgow (accessed 10 January 2008)
  30. ^ WAUGH, Evelyn Arthur St John in Who Was Who 1897–2006 online (accessed 10 January 2008)
  31. ^ "With an Eye to the Future" (Lancaster's memoirs)