While not ‘Entertainment’ per se, they were an important part of the social scene for the middle and upper classes in London. Open only to members and invited guests (membership often had strict requirements, and a prospective member had to be voted in, with the attendant risk of being “black balled”), the clubs provided a comfortable place to go; to eat dinner, have a drink, and socialize with other members of similar interests and tastes. They sometimes offered other amenities: the Athenaeum Club, for example, had one of the finest private libraries in London, with over 30,000 volumes by 1865.
Generally, it is possible to Visit a Club for a day. There is often a daily fee for visitors and nonmember guests. Some privileges or areas may be restricted to members only and some clubs do not allow visitors or non members at all.
The Principal Clubs and Memberships
Army and Navy Club: 36 Pall Mall. Current and former members of the two services. Annual membership fee is £ 6/11s ($31.75).
Athenaeum: 107 Pall Mall. An association of gentlemen of artistic, scientific, and literary pursuits, and for the nobles and gentlemen who are their liberal patrons. Annual membership fee is 8 guineas ($40.75).
Conservative Club: St James’s Street, west side. An association of gentlemen for the furtherance of conservative principles. Annual membership fee is 2 guineas ($10.00).
Reform Club: Pall Mall, south side. Membership is exclusively for Liberal MPs of either house of Parliament. Annual membership fee is 10 guineas per annum for the first 5 years of election, 8 guineas per annum thereafter ($51.00 / $41.00).
Scientific Club: 7 Savile-Row. An association of gentlemen of scientific pursuits, for the promotion of the abstract and applied sciences. Annual membership fee is 4 guineas ($20.50).
Travellers Club: 106 Pall Mall. An association of gentlemen who have lived and traveled abroad. Prominent foreign travelers, when properly recommended, are extended invitations for the duration of their stay. To qualify for membership, the individual must have traveled away from England at least 500 miles as measured in a straight line from London. Annual membership fee is 10 guineas ($51.00).