Carlton Club


Carlton Club

The Carlton Club is a gentlemen's club in London. It was founded in 1832, by Tory Peers, MPs and gentlemen, as a place to coordinate Party activity. It later played a role in the transformation of the Tory party into its modern form as the Conservative Party. The Club lost its role as a central party office with the widening of the vote in the late 1860s.

The Caen stone used on the club's façade proved unsuitable in the London atmosphere and had to be completely replaced in 1923–1924. ["Survey of London: volumes 29 and 30": St James Westminster, Part 1 (1960), pp. 180-186, online at [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=40563 British-History.ac.uk] (accessed 18 January 2008)]

Many Conservative MPs have been members, and it was most famous for the 'Carlton Club meeting' of 19 October 1922, in which backbench Conservative MPs decided to overthrow their leader Austen Chamberlain and withdraw from the David Lloyd George–led coalition. MPs voted 185 to 85 in favour of discontinuing the Coalition, after speeches from Bonar Law and Stanley Baldwin who said that the fact Lloyd George was a 'dynamic force' was a dangerous thing.

The club was formed at the Thatched House Tavern in 1832 and its first proper premises were in Carlton Terrace, provided by Lord Kensington. These premises quickly became too small. The second club house, situated in Pall Mall, London, was purpose built in 1835. However it was bombed in World War II, and so the Club moved to its current premises, 69 St James's Street, London SW1, formerly the premises of Arthurs' Club, which had fallen on hard times. The current clubhouse is architecturally important and includes two elegant dining rooms together with a stunning collection of political portraits and paintings dating back to the 18th century.

In 1977, the Junior Carlton Club merged with the Carlton Club.

At 8:39 p.m. on June 25, 1990, the Carlton Club was bombed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), injuring more than 20 people. [BBC Review of the IRA bombing http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/july/20/newsid_2515000/2515667.stm]

Traditionally only men could become full members after being proposed and seconded by a number of current members. However, at the Annual General Meeting of the Club held on 20th May 2008, the membership voted to allow women to become full ordinary members of the Club. Existing Lady Associate Members are entitled to maintain that status if they wish, thereby paying a lower subscription and being entitled to use only some of the facilities. Female Prime Ministers (Margaret Thatcher), as Honorary members, have full run of the club for life. A related Ladies Carlton Club used to exist, but is now defunct.

The leader of the Conservative Party is invited to become an honorary member. Iain Duncan Smith refused membership when it was offered to him. David Cameron similarly refused to accept membership upon taking up leadership of the Party, citing the fact that the Club did not offer full membership to ladies, despite his also being a member of White's Club which offers no class of membership to ladies. However, following the vote at the 2008 Annual General Meeting of the Club to admit women as full members, Cameron accepted Honorary Membership of the Club as of May 22 2008.

The Club now entitles full female membership, 176 years after it was founded. Lady Thatcher is an honorary member of the Club and was the only female member entitled to full membership and the same facilities as the existing male members. Before May 2008, women were given the status of 'associate member'; but this came with them not being allowed to vote. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7414279.stm Carlton Club allows women members BBC 22 May 2008] ] The Conservative Party's spokeperson for Women, Theresa May said "I'm just sorry that it took them this long to join the 21st Century."

ee also

*List of London's gentlemen's clubs

References

External links

* [http://www.carltonclub.co.uk Official site]
* [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=40623#s8 Architectural description and plans] - from the "Survey of London" online


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