Sunday, October 1, 2006

Gentlemen's Clubs Part III

There were many more clubs in London During the Regency.

I am going to touch on a couple of other famous ones, and on Thursday a list of some others that you might be interested in and provide a list of Hotels each catering to a different clientele.

Watier’s

During the twelve years of its life, from 1807 to 1819, no club was more notorious than Watier’s, It was located at 81 Piccadilly. While there are at least two different accounts of the origin of this club, the one I like the best is that after members of White’s and Brooks’s complained of the food to Prinny— the Prince Regent, the Prince helped his French chef set up a club where excellent food was paramount.
Watier’s was also known as The Dandy Club. Lord Byron wrote that although he was not a dandy, they were kind to him. He put it down to the fact that he had once been a dandy himself, although during this period he was considered part of the literary set.
Some of the famous dandies were of course Brummell, Mildmay, Alvanley and Pierrepoint.

Above is a picture of Lord Alvanley. He was not a handsome man, but he was extraordinarily good natured.
Byron speaks quite wistfully of the Dandy Balls that Watier’s got up and the famous masquerade at Burlington House and Garden for Wellington in a letter to Lady Blessington in 1823.

The play, mostly Macao, a version of vingt-et-un. was disastrously deep. Thousands passed from one to another with as much facility as marbles.


Four-Horse Club
Originally one of the clubs frequented by the notorious Earl of Barrymore, the Four-Horse club had been a wild group of young men who enjoyed bribing coachmen to give them the reins to the vehicles and then driving them at break-neck speeds along the very poor British Roads.
By the early nineteenth century it was a respectable club for superb drivers. At its peak it only had some 30-40 members.
It was often also called the Four-in-Hand Club, the Whip Club or the Barouche Club - the last from a description in "The Sporting Magazine" of Feburary 1809.
Club rules stated the barouches should be yellow bodied with 'dickies', the horses should be Bays, with rosettes at their heads and the harnesses should be silver-mounted. However Mr Annesley - a club member, drove roans, Sir Henry Peyton drove Greys so the color of the horses wasn't as strictly enforced as the color of the carriage.

The uniform of the club was strictly enforced. A drab coat that reached to the ankles with three tiers of pockets and mother of pearl buttons as large as five shilling pieces. The waistcoat was blue with yellow stripes an inch wide, the breeches of plush with strings and rosettes to each knee. It was fashionable that the hat should be 3 1/2 inches deep in the crown.
The first meeting of the Four-Horse club was held in April 1808 and subsequent days of meeting were the first and third Thursdays in May and June. The members assemble at Mr. Buxton's house in Cavendish Square and drove to Salt Hill to dinner at the Windmill first and then the next time at The Castle alternating between the two.
The procession was always the same. Club rules stated that each member in single file, no overtaking was allowed, and no one to exceed a trot. The procession set out from London to Salt Hill at noon, following along the Bath Road. It was 24 miles to Salt Hill so the club lunched at the Packhorse on Turnham Green and then took further refreshment at the Magpies on Hounslow Heath. They ran to Salt Hill where they remained overnight.
There popularity of the Four-Horse club began to wane around 1815 and it was disbanded in 1820. It was revived briefly in 1822 and finally died out in 1824.
The last post on this subject on Thursday, and then we take a look at the Flora and Fauna of October.
Happy Rambles.