Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Clubs - Brooks's Club

BROOKS'S CLUB, ST. JAMES'S STREET. The Whig Club-house, No.60 on the west-side, but founded in Pall Mall, in 1764, on the site of what is now the British Institution, by twenty-seven noblemen and gentlemen, including the Duke of Roxburgh, the Duke of Portland, the Earl of Strathmore, Mr. Crewe, afterwards Lord Crewe, and Mr. C.J.Fox. It was originally a gaming Club, and was farmed at first by Almack, but afterwards by Brooks, a wine merchant and money lender, *(*Selywn's Correspondence, iii. 167) described by Tickell, in a copy of verses addressed to Sheridan, as one- 
    "Who, nursed in Clubs, disdains a vulgar trade, 
    Exults to trust and blushes to be paid."
The present house was built at Brooks's expense, (from the designs of Henry Holland, the architect), and opened in October 1778. Some of the original rules, which I have been permitted to inspect, will show the nature of the Club.
    21. No gaming in the eating room, except tossing up for reckonings, on penalty of paying the whole bill of the members present.
    22. Dinner shall be served up exactly at half-past four o'clock and the bill shall be brought up at seven.
    26. Almack shall sell no wines in bottles that the Club approves of, out of the house.
    30. Any member of this society that shall become a candidate for any other Club (old White's excepted) shall be ipso facto excluded, and his name struck out of the book.
    40. That every person playing at the new quinze table do keep fifty guineas below table.
    41. That every person playing at the twenty guinea table do not keep less than twenty-guineas before him.
Against the name of Mr. Thynee, in the books of the Club, is an indignant dash through, and the following curious note in a contemporary hand: "Mr. Thynne, having won only 12,000 guineas during the last two months, retired in disgust, March 21st, 1772." Members were originally elected between the hours of 11 and 1 at night, and one black ball excluded. The present period of election is from 3 to 5 in the afternoon. The old betting-book of the Club (which is preserved) is a great curiosity. The principal betters were Fox, Selwyn and Sheridan. ...
    ... The Club is restricted to 575 members. Entrance money, 9 guineas; annual subscription, 11 guineas; two black-balls will exclude. Brooks retired from the club soon after it was built, and died poor about 1782. The Club (like White's) is still managed on the farming principle.

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850

BROOKS'S, 60 St. James's Street, was formerly established in Pall Mall, about 1764-65, by the Dukes of Portland and Roxburgh, Lord Crewe, Lord Strathmore, and Charles James Fox. It was noted for high play. Its name is that of one of its early caterers, who died in 1782, three years after the erection of the present club-house, at his expense, from the designs of Holland. Here are portraits of C. J. Fox and the Duke of Devonshire. All members are strictly Liberals.
    Number of members, 575. Entrance fee, 9l. 9s.; annual subscription, 11l. 11s. This Club and White's are "farmed," that is, catered for, by private subscription.

Cruchley's London in 1865 : A Handbook for Strangers, 1865

[ ... back to main menu for this book]

Brooks’s Club, 60, St.James’s-street. — (See BOODLE’S CLUB

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879