St. James's Square in London is Clubland for the Gentleman. The Carleton Club, Reform Club, Travellers Club and Naval and Military Club are all within a five minute walk of each other. With so many spacious private clubs around, it is a wonder how so many Members of Parliament would rather rip off the taxpayer with expensive London mortgages rather than live in temporary affordable comfort at a traditional gentlemen's club.
Gordon Brown may mock the Tories for moat cleaning and life at the Gentlemen's Club, but the Naval and Military Club where I stayed for four days cost me a very reasonable £65 per day, so assuming Parliament sat for 100 days each year, the taxpayer would only have to reimburse each MP £6,500 for their trouble. If a handsome Georgian mansion within spitting distance of Westminster was good enough for Lady Astor, the first woman to sit in Parliament, who lived here from 1912 until 1942, why should a backbencher feel any less privileged in such surroundings.
The Naval and Military Club was established in 1862. It was founded in 1862 because the three then existing military clubs in London - the United Service, the Junior United Service and the Army & Navy - were all full. The membership was long restricted to military officers. This is no longer the case, but it still has a predominantly military and ex-military membership. The old "In and Out" (Cambridge House at 94 Piccadilly) where Lord Palmerston lived until his death in 1865. Shortly after Palmerston's death Cambridge House was purchased by the Naval & Military Club, which had outgrown its previous premises.
A Bust of King Edward greets Members and Visitors to the Club
Her Majesty the Queen graces the first room
The Duke of Edinburgh is President of the Club and has been known to pop in from time to time. He donated this portrait to the Club in 1999.
The Mandatory Portrait of Lord Nelson, Hero of the Nile
A Naval Club without a portrait of the Immortal Nelson wouldn't be right.
Neither would a Military Club without a portrait of Wellington.
Admiral Beatty Graces the Entrance to the Library
The Canning Room
The Canning Bar
The Long Bar and what I would call the Field Marshal Room, owing to the number of portraits of British field marshals.
Field Marshal Roberts and Haig on the back wall
Field Marshal Haig
The staircase with columns resplendent
The grand staircase
Up we go.
Down we look.
Under over: Another portrait of Field Marshal the Lord Roberts
At the top.
They serve more than coffee in this upstairs room, yet this is what they call it: The Coffee Room. Here you can wine and dine and pretend you are someone who you are not.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
The Astor Room, this was Lady Astor's bedroom. Likely misattributed quote to Lady Astor: "Mr. Churchill, you're drunk!" Winston Churchill: "Yes, and you, Madam, are ugly. But tomorrow, I shall be sober." ...Other undefinitive anecdotal dialogue between Churchill and Lady Astor: "Winston, if I were your wife, I'd poison your tea." Churchill: "Nancy, if I were your husband, I'd drink it."
There is a long forgotten special link between Lady Astor and Canada. It was Lady Astor who volunteered to have her English country house converted into a hospital for wounded Canadian soldiers during the Great War and personally tended to their needs.
The view from Lady Astor's Room. All Gentlemen Clubs need a courtyard these days - "Gentlemen, you may smoke".
King Harald V Room (Reign: 1991 to Present). As it turns out, The Norway Club is closely affiliated with the Naval and Military Club and shares the same grand London home.
A Portrait of King Haakon VII of Norway (Reign: 1905-1957)
A Portrait of King Olav V of Norway (I believe) who reigned from 1957-1991
The British/Canadian name for this military dress is "Number 4s". I have to say the Norway version beats ours. Love the uniform.
A portrait of George V in the Palmerston Room