The Reform and Carlton Clubs by W. Hatherell. c. 1890. Source: Club-Land, 31

Joseph Hatton's Club-Land (1890) on the Carlton Club

If the Carlton does not gather within its fold that variety of opinion which is represented in the ranks of the so-called Liberal party, it includes the Tory as well as the democratic Conservative. It is a more homogeneous crowd than that of the Reform. The Tories have always been more successful than their rivals in founding clubs. They have, I believe, a greater number of established and flourishing clubs in the country than the Liberals; they have more and finer club-houses in London. It is only necessary to name the Carlton, the Conservative, the City Carlton, the Constitutional, the Junior Carlton, the National, the City Conservative, the St. Stephen's, the Beaconsfield, as against the Reform, Brooks's, Devonshire, the City Liberal, the Cobden, and National Liberal. The limit of members at the Reform is 1,400, at the Carlton 1,600, at the Beaconsfield 900, at Brooks's 600, at the City Carlton 1,000, at the City Conservative 1,500, at the City Liberal 1,150, at the Conservative 1,200, at the Cobden 960, at the Constitutional 3,700, at the Devonshire 1,200, at the St. Stephen's 1,500, National Liberal "unlimited" and so on. The reasons for the greater success of the Conservatives as clubbists possibly lie in the fact that, as a rule, they belong to the more settled classes of the community, embracing a large number of men whose moneys are invested in lands, household property, and public funds; have more leisure than their rivals, and are not disturbed by the faction friction within their camps that agitates the Liberal party; and that they have by inheritance a larger share of the faculty and habit of administration than the men who have fought their way to power during the present half of this century.

The Duke of Wellington was the originator of the Carlton. It first met in Charles Street, St. James's, fifty odd years ago; then moved for a time to Lord Kensington's in Carlton Gardens; in 1836 it built a house in Pall Mall. The house grew with its candidates and members. Sir Robert Smirke built the first house. Ten years later his brother enlarged it, and in 1854 pulled it down and rebuilt it. The present edifice is the result. It is not a copy, but an adaptation of the beautiful Sansovino's Library of St. Mark at Venice. To the fastidious eye the tone of the rich facade is marred by the highly-polished columns, which are in too violent a contrast with the dead stone. Nevertheless the clean, bright effect thus obtained is cheerful, and has artistic value in the general architectural picture of the street. The interior arrangements are excellent. It was a happy thought to have the smoking-room at the top of the house, on the garden-front, with a project ing balcony. The grand central hall is approached by a flight of steps from the entrance, and, as at the Reform, is square in plan. At the level of the first floor it is surrounded by a gallery octagonal in the plan, and lighted from the top. A broad staircase ascends in front : the morning-room is on the right, with the library over it, and the coffee-room is on the left, each apartment luxuriously and artistically furnished. The upper part of the central hall has coupled Corinthian columns executed ki scagliola. The library has more or less of a novelty in a sloping ceiling. The space is divided by main and cross beams (the former springing from brackets) into a number of coffers filled in with ornaments. [35-36]

Photograph from the January 1907 Graphic by S. B. Bolas and Co. Oxford Street, London. Click on image to enlarge it.

Formatting by George P. Landow [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the University of Toronto and Internet Archive and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Hatton, Joseph. Club-Land London and Provincial. London: J. S. Vertie, 1890. Internet Archive version of a copy in the University of Toronto Library. Web. 29 February 2012.

Last modified 17 August 2018