Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Clubs - Crockford's

CROCKFORD'S, or CROCKFORD'S CLUB HOUSE. A private club and gaming-house on the west side of St. James's-street, composed of the chief aristocracy of England, and so called from a person of that name, who died enormously rich, in May, 1844. He began life by keeping a fish-stall next door to Temple Bar Without. The house, shut up after Crockford's death  for all the purposes for which it was erected, was opened (May 5th, 1849) as the Naval, Military, and County Service Club.

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850

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THIS Club was formed in November, 1848, by a committee of noblemen and officers of distinction; amongst whom we find, as patrons, his Majesty the King of Holland, his Grace the Duke of Leeds, Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Napier GOB.; Colonel the Earl of Cardigan, 11th Hussars; Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence, R.N; the Right Hon. Shaw Lefevre, M.P., Speaker of the House of Commons; Lieutenant-General Sir Augustus De Butts, K.C.H., Colonel Commandant Royal Engineers; the Marquis of Donegal; Colonel the Hon. R. H. Clive, M. P.; Hon. Rice Trevor, M.P.; Colonel C. G. K. Tynte, M.P.; the Earl of Glengall; Viscount Castlereagh; the Marquis of Huntley, &c.
    The Club admits to membership the lord and deputy lieutenants of counties, officers in the army and Royal Marines on full and half pay, officers in the Royal Navy and the Hon. East India Company's Navy on full and half pay, officers in the militia and yeomanry, officers in the Hon. East India Company's military service, officers retired from the Queen's regular, marine, and naval forces, the militia and yeomanry, and the Hon. East India Company's military and naval services. 
    The number of members is limited to 1500, of whom already more than half have been elected. One of the originators of the Club is Arthur Sleigh, Esq., I late Lieutenant 77th Regiment, who is the Secretary. 
    The Club occupy the superb mansion, No. 50, St. James's-street, late Crockford's. We have engraved the grand drawing-room, a splendid apartment, with an entire frontage in St. James's-street, of fifty feet by forty wide. The style of decoration is that of Louis Quatorze. The ground-colour is azure; and the coving of the ceiling, and its panels, as well as the panel mouldings on the walls, are richly gilt. The door-frames and head-ways are also gilt; and above each is a painting a la Watteau, in a gilt scroll-work frame, as also above the pier-glasses, which are very large. The chimney-pieces are of marble, and above each is a lofty glass. The enrichments of masks, terminal heads, &c. throughout the room are heavily gilt; and from the centre of the ceiling hangs a large cut-glass chandelier. The carpet is of dark rich colours; and the furniture mahogany and morone morocco of first-rate manufacture, by Dowbiggin.
    The other apartments of the Club, and approaches thereto, consist of a grand entrance hall, of scagliola marble, supported by marble pillars, with heavily-gilt capitals. The stone staircase ascends on two sides to the upper corridors, leading to the grand drawing-room, the writing or Blue-room, and the magazine and green drawing-rooms. The cupola of the hall is profusely gilt, and partly filled with richly stained glass; from the apex, the arms of the Club form an upper cupola or lantern light, from the centre of which is suspended a large bronze and gold chandelier for gas. 
    In the lower entrance hall, right and left, are mahogany doors, leading to the coffee-rooms, each forty feet long by thirty feet wide, facing St. James's-street.  To the right is the "members'" coffee-room; and to the left the "strangers'," where members are privileged, under certain restrictions, to invite their friends to dinner, &c. Behind the strangers' coffee-room is the house dinner-room, where once a week a dinner is provided for sixteen members.
    From the grand drawing-room, heavily gilt doors lead on the right to the Blue-room, which is devoted exclusively to writing letters. The cornice in this room is one of the most superb and elegantly-designed pieces of carving in the house. The ceilings of the entire suite of drawing-rooms are ornamented with bronze gilt, which tempers the more dazzling richness on the panellings. 
    Another gilt folding-door leads from the right into the octagonal green recess, a chaste apartment, with sunken mirrors in two angles, and a superb stained glass window in the centre. From this miniature apartment are three different doors, each richly gilt upon a light pink ground, which adds to the contrast with the panellings of the room, light green and gold. 
    The magazine-room adjoining is a beautiful apartment, with gilt mouldings, also on a grooms ground, with four superb mirrors, from the ground to the ceiling - two on either side. From the centre of the suite of apartments hang rich glass chandeliers. 
    The furniture of the rooms is of a superb description; the carpets were made (expressly for the Club) of the richest material; the curtains are of crimson pile velvet. A story has been added to the upper suite of rooms, in which are a smoking divan, billiard-room, complete dressing-rooms, &c. We need scarcely add, that the kitchens and cellars of the Club are on a complete and extensive scale. 

Illustrated London News, January 12, 1850

CROCKFORD'S CLUB-HOUSE, 50, west side of St. James's-street, was built for Crockford in 1827; B. and P. Wyatt, architect. It consists of two wings and a centre, with four Corinthian pilasters with entablature, and a balustrade throughout; the ground-floor has Venetian windows, and the upper story large French windows. The entrance hall has a screen of Roman-Ionic scagliola columns with gilt capitals, and a cupola of gilding and stained glass. The coffee-room and library have Ionic columns, from the Temple of Minerva Polis; the staircase is panelled with scagliola, and enriched with Corinthian columns. The grand drawing-room is in the style of Louis Quatorze: azure ground, with elaborate cove, ceiling enrichments bronze-gilt, doorway paintings a la Watteau; and panelling, masks and terminals heavily gilt. The interior was redecorated in 1849, and opened for the Military, Naval and County Service Club, but was closed in 1851. It is now "The Wellington" Dining-Rooms.

John Timbs, Curiosities of London, 1867