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Epilogue

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Abstract

Empty clubs, a dramatic loss of service, and a lack of servants are exactly the kind of consequences one would anticipate from the First World War. Except that this account was written in 1900, not 1914. This supposed transformation of clubland was a result of the (relatively) minor Boer War. The inconvenience of Boer War was but a ripple in comparison to the wave of destruction, social upheaval, and rapid change that the twentieth century would bring. While members liked to imagine their beloved institutions as immune from the ravages of time, the changes going on around them could not be ignored.

Keywords

  • Twentieth Century
  • Social Upheaval
  • Ballroom Dancing
  • Male Dancer
  • Glowing Ember

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Beyond the desertion of the West End clubs by the young men gone to the front it was never expected that any other change would be possible. The old gentlemen, with favourite armchairs, would still enjoy them by prescriptive right, their newspaper would come in as usual, and the well-trained servants acquainted with every member’s peculiarities would minister to comfort hour by hour. Here at least club committees boasted that the eternal servant question, so troublesome at home, would never come up to disturb peace and comfort, for there would always be good club servants though private families went without. But even here came in the war. In the service clubs the reserve men, who made up the bulk of the domestics, went first. One claim after another was made, until all up and down St. James’s and Pall Mall the best of the domestics have been withdrawn. In fact, the better the club the greater proportion of reserve forces were requisitioned.1

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Notes

  1. Lady Correspondent, “Metropolitan Gossip,” The Belfast News-Letter, February 5, 1900.

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  2. Charles Gavard, Un Diplomate a Londres: Lettres et Notes 1871–1877 (Paris, 1895), 83–87.

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  3. Denys Forrest, Foursome in St. James’s: The Story of the East India, Devonshire, Sports and Public Schools Club (London: East India, Devonshire, Sports and Public Schools Club, 1982), 107.

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  4. Henry Lucy, The Diary of a Journalist: Later Entries 1890–1910 (London: John Murray, 1920), 2: 270.

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  5. Denys Mostyn Forrest, The Oriental: Life Story of a West End Club, 2nd ed. (London: Batsford, 1979), 136

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  6. Denys Forrest, Foursome in St. James’s: The Story of the East India, Devonshire, Sports and Public Schools Club (London: East India, Devonshire, Sports and Public Schools Club, 1982), 106.

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  7. Thomas Burke, London in My Time (London: Rich & Cowan, 1934), 197.

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  8. Robert Graves and Alan Hodge, The Long Week-End: A Social History of Great Britain 1918–1939 (London: W W. Norton, 2001), 114. D. J. Taylor, Bright Young People: The Rise and Fall of a Generation: 1918–1940 (London: Vintage Books, 2008).

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  10. Claire Langhamer, Women’s Leisure in England, 1920–1960 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001).

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  11. It was only when women had tangible equality that marriage could be companionate with both partners freely choosing to be married without economic dependence. Marcus Collins, Modern Love: Personal Relationships in Twentieth-Century Britain (Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press, 2006), 19–23, 26.

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  13. For a recent collection of stories see P. G. Wodehouse, The World of Jeeves (London: Arrow Books, 2008).

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  14. There were very few fine dining spaces in mid-Victorian London, Sablonière’s, Bertolini’s, and Verry’s being notable exceptions. Robert Thorne identifies the opening of the Grand Divan Restaurant in 1848 (later Simpson’s) as perhaps the first modern restaurant. Robert Thorne, “Places of Refreshment in the Nineteenth-Century City,” in Buildings and Society: Essays on the Social Development of the Built Environment, ed. Anthony D. Kin (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980), 232, 237.

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  18. The owners of the Ritz Hotel, which opened in 1906, explicitly tried to lure fashionable women out of their homes and men out of their clubs with attractive and accessible meals. Marcus Binney, The Ritz Hotel London (London: Thames & Hudson, 1999), 102.

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  19. Jeffrey Richards, The Age of the Dream Palace: Cinema and Society in 1930s Britain (London: I.B. Tauris, 2010), 5, 323.

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  25. Frank Mort, Capital Affairs: London and the Making of the Permissive Society (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), 6.

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  26. Even in the 1970s club membership could be used as a marker of elite identity. Philip Stanworth and Anthony Giddens, ed. Elites and Power in British Society (London: Cambridge University Press, 1974), 70–71. Clubland is flourishing today, but just as in every other moment of success, it has changed to suit contemporary society’s needs.

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  27. Barnaby Brook, Mock-Turtle: Being the Memoirs of a Victorian Gentleman (New York: Minton Balch, 1931), 271.

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© 2011 Amy Milne-Smith

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Milne-Smith, A. (2011). Epilogue. In: London Clubland. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137002082_9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137002082_9

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, New York

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-349-29886-0

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-137-00208-2

  • eBook Packages: Palgrave History CollectionHistory (R0)