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Brooks's is a gentlemen's club in St James's Street, London. It is one of the oldest and most exclusive gentlemen's clubs in London.

Formation1764; 255 years ago (1764)
TypeGentlemen's club
Coordinates51°30′24″N 0°8′23″W / 51.50667°N 0.13972°W / 51.50667; -0.13972Coordinates: 51°30′24″N 0°8′23″W / 51.50667°N 0.13972°W / 51.50667; -0.13972
Club secretary
Ian Faul


In January 1762 a private society was established at 50 Pall Mall by Messrs. Boothby and James in response to having been blackballed for membership of White's. This society then split to form the predecessors of both Brooks's and Boodle's. The club that was to become Brooks's was founded in March 1764 by twenty-seven prominent Whig nobles including the Duke of Portland, the Duke of Roxburghe, Lord Crewe and Lord Strathmore. Charles James Fox was elected as a member the following year at the age of sixteen. The club premises at 49 Pall Mall was a former tavern owned by William Almack as was the neighbouring 50 Pall Mall where the society had previously met and so the club become simply known as Almack's. These fashionable young men, known as Macaronis, would frequent the premises for the purposes of wining, dining and gambling.

In September 1777 William Brooks, a wine merchant and money lender who acted as Master, or manager, for Almack's, commissioned Henry Holland to design and construct a purpose-built clubhouse at a site on neighbouring St James's Street. Paid for at Brooks's own expense, the building was completed in October 1778 and all existing members of Almack's were invited to join. Brooks's gamble paid off as all existing members swiftly moved into the new building and the club then took on Brooks's name as its own. Brooks himself however would not live long to enjoy this success, dying in poverty in 1782.

The new clubhouse was built of yellow brick and Portland stone in a Palladian style similar to Holland's early country houses. The main suite of rooms on the first floor consisted of the Great Subscription Room, Small Drawing Room and the Card Room. The interiors are in neoclassical style, the Great Subscription Room having a segmental barrel vault ceiling. The interior of the building remained fairly unchanged until 1889 when neighbouring 2 Park Place, which had been purchased a few years before, was converted and adapted as part of Brooks's.

The main historic attraction of Brooks's was its gambling rooms. At several tables in one, members would stake fortunes on whist and hazard. Gambling all night was common; all day and all night, not unheard of. When the stakes far exceeded any ordinary expenses, all the club accounts were commonly deducted from winnings, so that no bills were rendered to members. Numerous eccentric bets were and are made in the Brooks's betting book. One extraordinary entry from 1785 is "Ld. Cholmondeley has given two guineas to Ld. Derby, to receive 500 Gs whenever his lordship fucks a woman in a balloon one thousand yards [900 m] from the Earth."[1] There is no further indication that the bet was paid, or even how they would check it if it was claimed.

In 1978 the St James's Club amalgamated with Brooks's, adding to its membership some European royalty, members of the British diplomatic corps and writers.

Notable former membersEdit

Born in the 18th centuryEdit

Born in the 19th centuryEdit

Born in the 20th centuryEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ L. G. Mitchell's biography of Charles James Fox. Quoted in Google Books
  2. ^ Memorials of Brook's, from the foundation of the Club, 1764, to the close of the nineteenth century; Compiled from the records of the Club. Ballantyne. 1907.
  3. ^ Mrs. Thatcher's Minister The Private Diaries of Alan Clark, p. 9.
  • Edward Walford; Old and New London: Volume 4, pp. 140–164; 1878
  • F. H. W. Sheppard, ed.; Survey of London: volumes 29 and 30: St James Westminster, Part 1, pp. 325–338; 1960.
  • Christopher Hibbert; London, the Biography of a City; 1969; William Morrow, NY
  • Robert Phipps Dod; Parliamentary Companion (various editions)

Further readingEdit

  • Eeles, Henry S.; Spencer, Earl (1964). Brooks's 1764-1964. London: Country Life.
  • 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 (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.
  • Milne-Smith, Amy (2011). London Clubland: A Cultural History of Gender and Class in Late-Victorian Britain. London: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-12076-1.
  • Moers, Ellen (1960). The Dandy: Brummell to Beerhbohm. New York: Viking Press.
  • Sebag-Montefiore, Charles (2006). Charles James Fox - Brooks's and Whiggery - The Fox Club. London: Brooks's.
  • Sebag-Montefiore, Charles; Mordaunt Crook, J. (eds) (2013). Brooks's 1764-2014: The Story of a Whig Club. London: Paul Holberton. ISBN 9-781907-372612.
  • 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.
  • Williamson, Victor A.; Lyttelton, Spencer; Simeon, Stephen (1907). Memorials of Brooks's: From the Foundations of the Club, 1764 to the Close of the Nineteenth Century, Compiled from the Records of the Club. London: Ballantyne.
  • Ziegler, Philip; Seward, Desmond (eds) (1991). Brooks's: A Social History. London: Constable. ISBN 0-09-470770-7.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Brooks's at Wikimedia Commons