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Raleigh Club, Regent-street, S. W. — Proprietary. No candidate is eligible for ballot less he shall have reached the age of 21 years, or shall have served not less than one year in the army, the militia, or civil service, or five years in the navy, or be already a member of one of certain first-class London clubs The kitchen is closed at 3 a.m. the bar, card, and billiard rooms at 4 a.m. and no fresh rubber of whist game of cards, or billiards shall be commenced after 3.30 a.m. Entrance fee, £26 5s.; subscription, £10 10s.
Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879
In those days the club most affected
bysubalterns was the "Raleigh," a charming night-house. approached by
a tunnel, whose portals opened at dusk and closed reputedly at four a.m., or
whenever its members vacated it. And the comfort of that long, delightful
single room! Ranged round its entirety were fauteuils, suitable alike for
forty winks, or brandy and soda, or the only eatables procurable - bacon on
toast sandwiches with a dash of biting sauce. Here might be seen the best men in
London percolating through at every moment, and exchanging badinage as brilliant
as probably it was naughty - poor old George Lawrence of "Sword and
Gown" fame, and Piggy Lawrence, killed not long after in a regimental
steeplechase ... These and a hundred others, all, alas, gone to the inevitable
dustbin, and yet the old building exists, externally, apparently the same
- the haunt of aspiring youths seeking a club with a past, respectable and
cautious to the highest degree, where cheques are not cashed over £5, and the
doors close at one a.m. to the tick.
But even in those long-ago days, the membership increased to such an extent that elbowroom had to be sought, and so Sally Sutherland's, a high-class night-house that abutted on the premises, was eventually taken in, and became the card room of the old Raleigh. To see this room in its glory, it was necessary to enter it during the Derby week, where, as far as the eye could reach (and farther), one dense mass of human faces watched the proceedings at the card table, and fought and hustled to pass fivers and tenners and fifties towards building up the mountain of bank notes that flanked either side of the table.
'One of the Old Brigade' (Donald Shaw), London in the Sixties, 1908