Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 Boodle's Club


This Club, originally the "Savoir vivre," which with Brookes's and White's, forms a trio of nearly coeval date, and each of which takes the present name of its founder, is No. 28, St. James's-street. In its early records it was noted for its costly gaieties, and the Heroic Epistle to Sir William Chambers, 1773, commemorates its epicurism:

"For what is Nature? Ring her changes round,

Her three flat notes are water, plants, and ground;

Prolong the peal, yet, spite of all your clatter,

The tedious chime is still ground, plants, and water;

So, when some John his dull invention racks,

To rival Boodle's dinners or Almack's,

Three uncouth legs of mutton shock our eyes,

Three roasted geese, three buttered apple-pies."

In the following year, when the Clubs vied with each other in giving the town the most expensive masquerades and ridottos, Gibbon speaks of one given by the members of Boodle's, that cost 2000 guineas. Gibbon was early of the Club; and, "it must be remembered, waddled as well as warbled here when he exhibited that extraordinary person which is said to have convulsed Lady Sheffield with laughter; and poured forth accents mellifluous like Plato's from that still more extraordinary mouth which has been described as 'a round hole' in the centre of his face."[11]

Boodle's Club-house, designed by Holland, has long been eclipsed by the more pretentious architecture of the Club edifices of our time; but the interior arrangements are well planned. Boodle's is chiefly frequented by country gentlemen, whose status has been thus satirically insinuated by a contemporary: "Every Sir John belongs to Boodle's—as you may see, for, when a waiter comes into the room and says to some aged student of the Morning Herald, 'Sir John, your servant is come,' every head is mechanically thrown up in answer to the address.'"

Among the Club pictures are portraits of C. J. Fox, and the Duke of Devonshire. Next door, at No. 29, resided Gillray, the caricaturist, who, in 1815, threw himself from an upstairs window into the street, and died in consequence.

[11] London Clubs, 1853, p. 51.

John Timbs
Club Life of London Vol. I
London, 1866