Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Clubs - Carlton Club

CARLTON CLUB, PALL MALL. A Tory and Conservative Club-house, originally built by Sir Robert Smirke, but since enlarged, and in every sense improved, by his brother Mr. Sydney Smirke. The portion recently built forms about one-third of the intended new Club-house, and contains on the ground floor a coffee-room, 92 feet by 37 feet, and 21 feet high in the centre, where there is a glazed dome. On the first floor are a billiard room and a private, or house, dinner-room. Above are smoking-rooms and dormitories for servants. The exterior is built of Caen stone, except the shafts of the columns and pilasters which are of polished Peterhead granite. 

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850

The CARLTON, Pall Mall, is the well-known Conservative political club. All Conservative peers and M.P.'s are ex- officio members; the number of members, including parliamentary, is 1500. Entrance fee, 15l. l5s. ; annual subscription, 10l. 10s.
    The Club-house was originally built by Sir Robert Smirke, but effectively reconstructed in 1854-6 by his brother, Sydney Smirke, who has succeeded in enriching the northern façade very successfully, by the introduction of polished Peterhead granite. The elevation is pure Italian (in adaptation of the Library of St. Mark's, Venice); the lower order Doric, the upper Ionic. Internally, the Canton is not unworthy of the Georgian palace whose name it preserves. The apartments are of noble proportions, and splendidly fitted up.

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

CARLTON CLUB, the, Pall Mall, is a purely political Club, and was founded by the late Duke of Wellington, and a few of his most influential political friends. It first held its meetings in Charles-street, St. James's, in the year 1831. In the following year it removed to larger premises, Lord Kensington's house, in Carlton-gardens. In 1836 an entirely new house was built for the club in Pall Mall, by Sir Robert Smirke, R.A., small in extent, and plain and inexpensive in its architecture. As the Club grew in numbers and importance, the building soon became inadequate to its wants. In 1846, a very large addition was made to it by Mr. Sydney Smirke; and in 1854 the whole of the original building was taken down and rebuilt by Mr. Smirke, upon a sumptuous scale, in florid Italian style, nearly a fac-simile of Sansovino Library of St. Mark, at Venice: the lower order Doric, the upper Ionic; the six intercoluminations occupied by arched windows, with bold keystones, and the upper window spandrels, filled with sculpture; above are a decorated frieze, rich cornice, and massive balustrade. The facade is of Caen stone, but the shafts and pilasters are of polished Peterhead granite. This new portion is intended to form one-third of the entire facade.

John Timbs, Curiosities of London, 1867

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Carlton Club, Pall-mall No special qualification is mentioned in the rules, but the club is the recognised head-quarters of the Conservative parts. The entrance fee is 20, and the subscription 10 10s. The election of members is made by the committee, and by ballot, twelve being a quorum at each ballot, and two black balls excluding. The names of candidates are taken in the order in which they are inserted in the book, with the exception of peers, heirs apparent to any peerage, and members of the House of Commons, who may be balloted for immediately, and ten candidates annually selected by the committee from those whose names may be in the book on the 1st of March in each year. In the case of this selection the rule of the club, that the election of members shall be by ballot, is dispensed with. No candidate, however, is to be deemed elected a member, in whose favour less than two-thirds of the committee shall have given their vote.

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

George Birch, The Descriptive Album of London, c.1896

Victorian London - Publications - History - The Queen's London : a Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Streets, Buildings, Parks and Scenery of the Great Metropolis, 1896 - Smoking Room of the Carlton Club

Smoking Room of the Carlton Club - photograph


The Smoking-room of the Carlton Club, on the first floor, is 65 feet by 36 feet, and was originally the Library, as the well-fitted bookshelves remain to avouch. If its walls could speak they would doubtless be able to tell many an interesting tale, for the Carlton is, of course, the headquarters of the Conservative party, and in this room, from time to time, party deliberations are conducted. The Carlton was established as long ago as 1832, and its membership is not allowed to exceed 1,800. No observant person passing along Pall Mall can fail to notice the handsome club-house at No. 94, with its polished granite pillars. The design is an imitation of the old library of Petrarchs foundation in the Piazza of St. Mark at Venice, which was built by the great Sansovino.