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White's club
Formation1693 (1693)

White's is a gentleman's club in St James's, London, regarded as one of the most exclusive of its kind.


White's is the oldest gentleman's club in London, founded in 1693, and is considered by some to be the most exclusive private club in London.[1] Notable current members include Charles, Prince of Wales, and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose father Ian Cameron had been the club's chairman, was a member for fifteen years but resigned in 2008, over the club's declining to admit women.[2][3][4][5][6]

White's continues to maintain its standards as an establishment exclusively for gentlemen; brief exceptions were made for the visits by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991[6] and 2016. White's is a member of the Association of London Clubs.[7] In January 2018, calling themselves 'Women in Whites', women protesters infiltrated the club to highlight its single-sex policy, one managing to gain entry by pretending to be a man. These persons were removed.[8][9]


The club was originally established at 4 Chesterfield Street, off Curzon Street in Mayfair, in 1693 by an Italian immigrant named Francesco Bianco as a hot chocolate emporium under the name Mrs. White's Chocolate House. Tickets were sold to the productions at King's Theatre and Royal Drury Lane Theatre as a side-business. White's quickly made the transition from teashop to exclusive club and in the early 18th century, it was notorious as a gambling house; those who frequented it were known as "the gamesters of White's." The club gained a reputation for both its exclusivity and the often raffish behaviour of its members. Jonathan Swift referred to White's as the "bane of half the English nobility."[10]

In 1778 it moved to 37-38 St James's Street. From 1783 it was the unofficial headquarters of the Tory party, while the Whigs' club Brooks's was just down the road. A few apolitical and affable gentlemen managed to belong to both. The new architecture featured a bow window on the ground floor. In the later 18th century, the table directly in front of it became a seat of distinction, the throne of the most socially influential men in the club. This belonged to the arbiter elegantiarum, Beau Brummell, until he removed to the Continent in 1816, when Lord Alvanley took the place of honour. It was here that Alvanley bet a friend £3,000 as to which of two raindrops would first reach the bottom of a pane of the bow window. It is not recorded whether he won his bet.[6] Later, the spot was reserved for the use of the 1st Duke of Wellington until his death in 1852.

Alvanley's was not the most eccentric bet in White's famous betting book. Some of those entries were on sports, but more often on political developments, especially during the chaotic years of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. A good many were social bets, such as whether a friend would marry this year, or whom.

The club continues to maintain its standards as a club for gentlemen only, however one of its best known chefs from the early 1900s was Rosa Lewis,[11] a model for the central character in the BBC television series The Duchess of Duke Street.[12]

There were two American members in the interwar period, one of whom was a General in the U.S. Army. Current American members include diplomat Edward Streator.

Prince Charles held his stag night at the club before his wedding to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. His eldest son, Prince William, was entered as a member of the club shortly after his birth.[6]


The clubhouse is located at 37-38 St James's Street in the City of Westminster and is a Grade I listed building.[13] Originally built in 1674 and then rebuilt in 1787–88, probably by James Wyatt, it was further altered in 1811 and the frontage was remodelled by Lockyer in 1852. Constructed of Portland stone with a slate roof it possesses the Victorian version of a Palladian façade with some French motifs. The buildings consists of three storeys, a basement and a dormered attic. In the late 1970s, the exterior was painted azure with white trim.[] The Club bar is more compact than that of other clubs. An amusing description of it and the rationale behind its size may be found in Chapter Ten of the spy novel The Sixth Column (1951) by Peter Fleming (brother of Ian Fleming). The Club is thinly disguised as "Black's".

Whilst the club does not have members' accommodation, facilities include a private dining room and a billiards room. The menu revolves around British game.

Notable former members

Notable current members

See also


  1. ^ Wheeler, Brian (24 November 2003). "'If anybody wants me, I'll be at my club'". BBC News Online. BBC News. Retrieved 2013.
  2. ^ Laura Pitel (19 July 2013). "Cameron declares war on the gentlemen's club". The Times. Retrieved 2013.
  3. ^ Ros Taylor (18 October 2005). "Smashing chaps". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013.
  4. ^ Peter Dominiczak; Steven Swinford (18 July 2013). "Gentlemen's clubs are a 'thing of the past', says David Cameron". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2013.
  5. ^ Steerpike (18 July 2013). "Cameron whiter than White's". The Spectator. Retrieved 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d Harry Mount (18 July 2013). "Disowned by Cameron, the raffish men-only club that his father once ran". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 2013.
  7. ^ "Association of London Clubs". The Association of London Clubs. Archived from the original on 1 November 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  8. ^ "Police called in as women 'invade' private members club". dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2018.
  9. ^ Unfollow Everything (27 January 2018). "WOMEN IN WHITES - Penetrating an all-male safe space". Retrieved 2018 – via YouTube.
  10. ^ Grivetti, Louis Evan; Shapiro, Howard-Yana, eds. (2009). Chocolate: history, culture, and heritage. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. p. 584. ISBN 0470121653.
  11. ^ "London's Cleverest Cook". Euroa Advertiser (Vic. : 1884 - 1920). Vic.: National Library of Australia. 25 September 1914. p. 5. Retrieved 2013.
  12. ^ "Read the Book, Darling," Charles McGrath. New York Times, 22 August 2004, section 2, page 9.
  13. ^ Historic England. "White's Club  (Grade I) (1264877)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2013.
  14. ^ Cave Brown, Anthony (1988). The Secret Servant: The Life of Sir Stewart Menzies, Churchill's Spymaster. London: Michael Joseph. p. 148. ISBN 0718127455.
  15. ^ "Iain Dale's Diary: The Lord Pearson Interview". Iaindale.blogspot.com. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 2011.
  16. ^ 'LAMONT OF LERWICK', Who's Who 2017, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2017; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2016 ; online edn, Nov 2016 accessed 8 Dec 2016
  17. ^ Creamer, Martin (18 October 2013). "Adam Fleming". Mining Weekly. Retrieved 2015.
  • Dod's Parliamentary Companion (various editions)
  • Debrett's People of Today, 2011

Further reading

  • Bourke, The Hon. Algernon (1892). The History of White's. London: Algernon Bourke (privately published), 2 vols.
  • Colson, Percy (1950). White's, 1693-1950. London: Heinemann.
  • Escott, T.H.S. (1914). Club Makers and Club Members. London: T. Fisher Unwin.
  • Gatrell, Vic (2006). City of Laughter: Sex and Satire in Eighteenth-Century London. New York: Walker. ISBN 978-0-8027-1602-6.
  • Hibbert, Christopher (1969). London: The Biography of a City. New York: William Morrow.
  • Lejeune, Anthony; Lewis, Malcolm (1979). The Gentlemen's Clubs of London. London: Wh Smith Pub. ISBN 0-8317-3800-6.
  • Lejeune, Anthony (1993). White's: The First Three Hundred Years. London: A&C Black. ISBN 0-7136-3738-2.
  • Lejeune, Anthony (2012). The Gentlemen's Clubs of London. London: Stacey International. ISBN 978-1-906768-20-1.
  • Margetson, Stella (1971). Regency London. New York: Praeger Publishing.
  • Moers, Ellen (1960). The Dandy: Brummell to Beerhbohm. New York: Viking Press.
  • Thévoz, Seth Alexander (2018). Club Government: How the Early Victorian World was Ruled from London Clubs. London: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 978-1-78453-818-7.

External links

Coordinates: 51°30?27.3?N 0°8?24?W / 51.507583°N 0.14000°W / 51.507583; -0.14000

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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