Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Gentlemen's Clubs -- Final Post

Well this is the last of the information on Gentlemen’s Clubs. There were lots more of them, all fascinating to me, but it is time for a change. I must say that some of the less well-known ones will make more exotic locations for novels, so don’t be surprised if you see some of them popping up in my books.

Royal Thames Yacht
, known first as the Cumberland Fleet after the Duke of Cumberland began in 1775 by 'a group of very respectable gentlemen'. It had no club house but met at tea gardens across from Vauxhall.




Their first recorded race was held in July of that year, for a trophy – the first Cumberland Cup – put up by the Duke of Cumberland, younger brother of George III. Seven more annual races were held by the Cumberland Fleet for its members. In those days, these trophies were won outright and became the property of their winners. The original 1775 Cup was destroyed in a fire, but the Cups of 1776, 1777, 1780, 1781 and 1782 have over the years all been traced, recovered and now are displayed in the entrance hall of the present clubhouse of the Cumberland Fleet, the Royal Thames Yacht Club at 60 Knightsbridge, London.
The Yacht Union belonging to Mr. Babtist May, sailing opposite to his house at Hammersmith, 1751.
In 1786 a new trophy – the Vauxhall Cup – was put up for a race 'for any previous winner of a Cumberland Cup, for any yacht owned by a member of the Cumberland Fleet, or for any yacht owned by a gentleman'. This must surely be the world's first Open Meeting. The Cup was presented by one Jonathan Tyers, who had just bought and taken over the Vauxhall Gardens.



The Cumberland Fleet continued to race regularly both above and below London Bridge, continuing to use that name despite the death of its eponymous patron in 1790. Cumberland's nephew, Prince William Duke of Clarence, took over as Patron. With the hiatus in activities in Cork, the Cumberland Fleet was the only yacht racing body in the country – and thus probably the world – active in 1805 when Nelson won his great victory at Trafalgar.

In 1811 Arthur's was formed from Arthur's chocolate house 69 St James Street in this impressive building. It was primarily used by country gentlemen.

One rather odd club I thought was The Beefsteak Club Aristocracy and the arts. It was a dining club.There were 24 members and not even the Prince of Wales (Prinny) could get in until a member died or resigned. They dined at 2:00 every Saturday between November and June. Blue coats and bluff waistcoats. Met at Covent Garden theatre among other places. In 1808 dinner was moved to 4. It did not move to 6 until 1833.

And then there were the hells. Boozing kens (that is Regency speak or cant) that attracted the lowest and the highest. Usually young gentlemen with too much time and too much money. In one description I read many of these were located in Covent Garden and young inexperienced young men would be found naked and all their money gone by farmers and their wives coming to market early in the morning.

Now who still longs for the “good old days”?

I think I’m going to do some fashion for a couple of weeks, just for fun.
Happy rambling.