Some of Our Members
Army & Navy Club
Founded in August 1837, the Club was formed to meet the needs of the many army officers wanting to join a Service Club, most of which were already full. The great Duke of Wellington said he would become neither a patron nor a Member unless membership was also offered to officers of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Hence, the “Army Club” became the Army and Navy Club. It acquired its famous nickname when Captain William “Billy” Higginson Duff, a colourful character, was offended by the spartan nature of the fare offered to him on returning from a spree. He described the Club as a “Rag and Famish affair” (a great insult, since the “Rag and Famish” was a squalid gaming house). The Members were amused rather than insulted by this and formed a “Rag and Famish” dining club. The name was gradually adopted as the Club’s nickname, eventually being reduced to “The Rag”.
The Athenaeum was founded in 1824 as a meeting place for men who enjoy the life of the mind, so it is hardly surprising that its library should feature so prominently throughout the first floor of its magnificent Decimus Burton designed Clubhouse. It’s membership consists primarily of professionals concerned with science, engineering and medicine, together with lawyers, writers, artists, clergymen, civil servants and academics of all disciplines; their wide interests are reflected the library which houses some 80,000 books.
The British Academy was founded in 1901 to promote ‘historical, philosophical and philological studies’. Since then, it has grown to a Fellowship of over 900 distinguished scholars and is now the UK’s national body for the humanities and social sciences. The Fellows of the Academy take a lead role in representing the humanities and social sciences, providing an independent and authoritative source of advice, and contributing to public policy and debate. As a funding body, the Academy supports individual and project based research. The Academy also facilitates international collaboration between scholars around the world. In order to inspire and develop future generations of scholars, the British Academy produces a wide range of activities and publications. The Academy’s library showcases the work of its Fellows, the results of its wide ranging research awards and its own publications.
Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is an independent policy institute based in London. Our mission is to help build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world. Founded in 1920, Chatham House engages governments, the private sector, civil society and its members in open debate and confidential discussion on the most significant developments in international affairs. Each year, the institute runs more than 300 private and public events – conferences, workshops and roundtables – in London and internationally with partners. Our convening power attracts world leaders and the best analysts in their respective fields from across the globe. The Chatham House library holds a specialist collection of books, periodicals and electronic resources covering international relations, and international aspects of economics, security and resource governance. The collection focuses on contemporary issues as well as holding core publications dating back to the 1920s.
East India Club
The East India Club, in the heart of London’s Club-land, has a long tradition as a gentleman’s home from home. Founded in the middle of the 19th century, its original members were “the servants of the East India Company and Commissioned Officers of Her Majesty’s Army and Navy”. The legacy of those early members, home on furlough from far flung lands continues today. As a private club, only open to members and their guests, the Club still provides a refuge and meeting place for busy young men and their more seasoned seniors. Since those early days, the Club has amalgamated with the Devonshire, the Sports and the Public Schools Clubs and also welcomed members of the Eccentric Club. The amalgam has been a happy one, possibly because together, as their titles suggest, the component parts reflect the very best diversity of English tradition. The Club retains its international dimension through its reciprocal arrangements with similar clubs throughout the world
A theatrical library was constituted in the founding principles of the Garrick Club in 1831. Today it serves not only its membership but is also available to scholars by appointment. It is particularly strong on eighteenth and nineteenth century theatre history and its holdings include thousands of playbills, engravings, prompt copies and manuscripts. The Club is also home to what is perhaps the largest collection of British theatrical portraiture including numerous masterpieces of the genre. On-line catalogues are available on its website.
Institute of Directors
The Institute of Directors is Europe’s largest membership organization for business leaders. Established in 1903, the IoD was granted Royal Charter in 1906. The IoD supports over 38,000 members through 44 regional branches across the UK, and an international network that covers six continents. The IoD moved to 116 Pall Mall in 1978, and in 2000 expanded into 123 Pall Mall. In addition to vast business networks and access to excellent venues, IoD members also benefit from exclusive information and advisory services provided by IoD’s award-winning team of professional researchers and specialist senior business advisors.
The King’s Fund
The King’s Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and health care in England. The Information and Knowledge Services provide a unique and free source of information on health and social care policy and management to both staff and the general public, including: current awareness bulletins, literature searching, a digital repository of King’s Fund publications from 1897 onwards, reading lists on a variety of health and social care topics, and a specialist reference library and open access library catalogue
The London Library
Founded by Thomas Carlyle in 1841, The London Library has played a central role in the intellectual life of the nation, serving generations of readers and writers for nearly 170 years. Over successive generations, the Library’s membership has included many of the most important writers, thinkers and opinion-formers of the day, alongside the widest range of general readers with a keen interest in literature and learning. Members past and present include Charles Dickens, John Betjeman, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, Winston Churchill, William Boyd and Sir Tom Stoppard who is the Library’s current president. Today it is the world’s largest independent lending library housing a remarkable collection of books, periodicals and reference material from the 16th to the 21st century, providing a wonderful literary oasis in the heart of London. Membership is open to all.
Middle Temple Library is one of the four Inns of Court libraries serving members of the Bar. It contains over 250,000 volumes on English, EU and American law including monographs, law reports, loose-leafs and journals. It also has an extensive collection of early printed books (approximately 9,000) and over 300 manuscripts. The rare book collection is notable for holding the largest holdings of John Donne’s personal library. The library was founded in 1641 with the bequest of over 4,000 volumes made by Robert Ashley (1565-1641), a member of the Inn. The library is not open to the general public but access to researchers can be made by special application.
Naval & Military Club
The Naval & Military Club was established in 1862 by a party of officers from The Buffs, to meet demand for another Service Club in central London. Starting from a furnished house in Clifford Street with 150 members, it quickly expanded in size and popularity and moved premises, first to Hanover Square and then, in 1866, to Cambridge House in Piccadilly. Here it acquired the nickname The In & Out, from the famous lettering found on the gateposts to guide London cabbies in and out of the Club. The move to 4 St James’s Square took place in 1999. The Library reflects the Club’s history with a collection of books on naval and military subjects, plus the collections of the Canning Club and Den Norske Club, with Latin American and Norwegian interests.
The Reform Club
The Reform Club was founded in 1836, in Pall Mall.The founders commissioned a leading architect of the day, Charles Barry, to build an imposing and palatial clubhouse. Membership was restricted to those who pledged support for the Great Reform Act of 1832, and the many MPs and Whig peers among the early members developed the Club as the political headquarters of the Liberal Party.The Reform Club is no longer associated with any particular political party, and now serves a purely social function.
Royal Astronomical Society
The ‘Astronomical Society of London’ was founded on 10 March 1820 in order to promote the study of astronomy; a Royal Charter was signed by William IV on 7 March 1831, and the Society assumed the name it has used ever since. The Society at first met in various locations in central London, then in 1874 it moved to specially built premises in part of Burlington House, Piccadilly, which it has occupied ever since. Publications formed a central activity from the very beginning; the Monthly Notices started in 1829, and this series continues to this day as the Society’s flagship astronomy journal. From its earliest days the Society had started to accumulate books, manuscripts, instruments and other memorabilia, and these formed the basis of the Library and Archives which are maintained today. The current Library collection consists of about 35,000 volumes, including c14,000 open-shelf books published after 1850, c3,500 pre-1850 titles, a large collection of unbound pamphlets and many current and historic journals. The Archives include a range of observational and other material dating mainly from 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, the most important collection of which is the Herschel papers.
Royal Automobile Club
The Royal Automobile Club is a private members’ club steeped in the history and tradition of automobilism and motor sport. Originally the Automobile Club of Great Britain & Ireland, it celebrated its centenary in 1997. It was awarded its royal appellation by King Edward VII in 1907. Two clubhouses, the one in London’s Pall Mall possessing probably the premier motoring library in the country, and the other one nestling amid the green countryside of Epsom, provide excellent banqueting, dining, accommodation and sporting facilities. Members of the Club can enjoy too reciprocal arrangements with approximately 60 other gentlemen’s clubs from around the world.
Royal College of Physicians
The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) was founded by Henry VIII in 1518 to license physicians and protect the public from unqualified practitioners. It continues to promote the highest standards of medical practice through its activities and also leads medical debate, lobbies and advises government and others on behalf of its 26,000 members. It has always had a library but most of the collection was destroyed in the Fire of London. It was built up again following the bequest of the first Marquis of Dorchester in 1688. The Dorchester collection includes books on travel, religion, astronomy and other non-medical subjects. As well as having rare and important historical collections, the library continues to provide members with a range of services and modern medical resources including printed and electronic journals, books, databases and other items. The RCP is now in its fifth home, a grade 1 listed building designed by Sir Denys Lasdun to which it moved from Pall Mall East in 1964.
Royal Horticultural Society
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity. Our libraries hold the world’s finest collection of books, magazines, journals, catalogues and artworks on gardens, gardening and their related subjects.
Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 210 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.
Royal United Services Institute
The Royal United Services Institute Library of Military History has been an integral part of the institute’s work since its inception in 1831. This unique collection charts the history of academic thought about military affairs and as such is of great historical and intellectual importance. The collection is dedicated to developing our knowledge of war and shaping theoretical approaches to modern military thinking through our understanding of the past.
The Savage Club
Clubs elsewhere have borrowed both the name and the style, which continues to be the ‘pursuit of happiness’ – a quest made infinitely more agreeable by the fellowship of members who are known to each other by the sobriquet ‘Brother Savage’. The Club has a small library almost entirely made up of volumes about or by members.
The Travellers Club
The Travellers Club was founded in 1819 and moved to its present purpose-built clubhouse, designed by Charles Barry, in 1832. The intention of its founders was to provide a meeting place for gentlemen who had travelled abroad, their foreign visitors and diplomats posted in London who might enjoy the privilege of using the Club. Its library contains a wealth of travelogues and journals from across the centuries.