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A History Of Private Members Clubs

By Tara Smith

A private members' club is often referred to as a gentlemen's club; venues originally set up by upper middle-class British men of the eighteenth century. In order for what I hear you ask? well 'face' I guess social status, and how you want the rest of your community to see you (at least back then anyhow).

The original gentlemen's clubs manifested in the West End of London; clubs such as White's, Brooks and Boodle's. These golden oldies were aristocratic through and through (despite the unlawful gambling taking place behind closed doors). Then came the three great Reform Acts of the nineteenth century - every time an act was passed and more men were subsequently given the right to vote so contributed to a further expansion of clubs; clubs that soon became a somewhat second home to the gentlemen who used them. In fact, you only ever used one club and always remained true to it. You would choose your establishment because of its correspondence to your possible interests; such as, politics, sports, literature or art.

When you started to use a club, it was generally expected that you remained true to your choice and never deviated to another establishment. You would initially choose your club because of influence from friends or family and because your club has similar interests to you in areas such as politics, sports, literature or art.

As we move into the twentieth century, the popularity of the private members' club diminished in large due to the hardships of two world wars. However, in recent years, we have actually seen a rejuvenation / resurrection of such clubs with a contemporary and innovative twist. Looking specifically at London once again, you may recognise The Groucho Club, Soho House and Home House for example. All offer a modern spin on the original gentlemen's club, providing luxurious surroundings coupled with first class facilities, food, drink and accommodation. The twenty-first century clubs are also open to both men and women, an example of another way in which they have changed.

Home House of Portman Square is perhaps the most endearing of private members' clubs, especially as it started life somewhat differently to the White's, Brooks and Boodle's of times gone by. Contrary to belief, the building was originally built as just that - a house - a grand, Georgian town house to be precise, designed by famous architects Robert Adam and James Wyatt for Elizabeth, Countess of Home. It wasn't until 2004, when it was passed to its current owners, that it became the club we know and love today.

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Ditulis oleh: Faisal Reza Siregar - Sunday, July 28, 2013

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