Palaces of Power: The Birth and Evolution of London’s Clubland by Stephen Hoare

The trouble with public houses is that the public is let in. For exclusivity purposes — and the chance to choose your own riff-raff — there are the London gentlemen’s clubs, 400 of them in the West End in Edwardian times, although fewer than 50 survive today.

When I was a younger man I used to go on a regular club crawl with the venerable wine writer Cyril Ray. Drinks at the Lansdowne and the Athenaeum, lunch at Brooks’s, more drinks at White’s, dinner at the Reform. The Arts Club, in Dover Street, came into it somewhere. I would end the day in a shopping trolley at Paddington station, wearing a kettle on my head.

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