The Norfolk Club - A Short History
On 30th June 1770 it was resolved that ‘a Select Number of intimate friends in the County of Norfolk (not exceeding fourteen) do dine together at The Bell Tavern in the Market Place, Norwich upon the last Saturday in the months of June, July, August 1770 and in the months of April, May, June, July and August in the next insuing (sic) years for ten years to come’.
One of the proposed Standing Orders of what became The Norfolk Society was that ‘...members who have Parks do provide Venison in the proper season’; although this, and the proposed Standing Order that ‘Ladies be admitted without reserve’, was not implemented.
That the Norfolk Society flourished is evident from an 1805 receipt for £120 in which ‘the Noblemen and Gentlemen of The Norfolk Society’ are thanked ‘for managing the Ball and supper’ (at The Assembly Rooms) ‘in honor (sic) of Lord Nelson’s Victory’; this event being described in an 1806 letter to ‘the Honourable Committee appointed by the Noblemen and Gentlemen of The Norfolk Society’ as ‘the late Elegant Ball and supper which your munificence and attention produced’.
50 years after the founding of The Norfolk Society an invoice was submitted for a Jubilee Dinner enjoyed by 40 members (at £1 per head) at which 14 bottles of champagne @ 9/6 a bottle; 12 bottles Madeira @ 6/6 a bottle; 18 bottles port@ 5/8 a bottle and 28 bottles of claret at 16/6 a bottle; (in all 72 bottles) were consumed. A £1 charge was made for broken glasses.
The Norfolk Society became The Norfolk Club in 1864. There were 103 Members in the first year (as may be seen in the Membership List displayed in the Library).
In 1867 ‘the Committee, in presenting their third Annual Report, are glad to say that the Norfolk Club continues to maintain its position in the County’. (Members then 120).
So popular was the Club that at the 1882 AGM it was recorded that ‘All Members of the Club must agree that it is desirable that our present building and arrangements are not worthy of a County Club; all must agree that we should have a good House of our own, but it is vain to think that such hopes can be realised unless Members are prepared to pronounce a strong opinion on the subject’.
In the following year there were 220 Members and the Prince of Wales became an Honorary Member. (The Prince of Wales and The Duke and Duchess of York visited in 1896, HM Queen Mary in 1932 and The Duke of Edinburgh in 2008).
In 1886 it was resolved to purchase Club premises; the Club then renting accommodation in Guildhall Hill. In 1887 a sum well in excess of the £3300 purchase price had been raised for the premises in Upper King Street; the excess enabling the building of the Dining Room extension at the back.
The Club took up residence in its current premises in about Christmas 1887.
Shortly after moving in, the Smoking Room (now the Library), was created out of two separate rooms. A racquets court was built in 1901, to be replaced by the present Squash Court in 1937. A bowling green and garden remained at the back until replaced by the car park. The Backs’ Terrace was installed in 2012.
The Georgian front of the building could well be contemporary with the foundation of The Norfolk Society in 1770, as it is known that the house was built in the eighteenth century on land which once formed part of the Greyfriars precinct. The old wall in St Faith’s Lane, behind the Club, was the boundary between the Cathedral Quarter and Greyfriars. At the time the house was built, or not long after, it was the premises of Harvey and Hudson’s Bank, and it remained so until 1866 when the Bank transferred to the new Crown Bank; now Hardwick House. The old Bank vaults remain in the cellars.
The Club has seen various innovations over the years.
A telephone was installed in 1893, it being resolved that ‘the details of management be placed in the hands of the House Committee but that an extra servant be employed for this purpose’.
In 1895 an incandescent gas light was installed in the Billiard Room and electric light was provided in the basement in 1896.
In 1926 it was agreed that a wireless set be bought ‘for a sum not exceeding £20’, and the 1930 Minutes record that a ‘Hoover’ was demonstrated in the Morning Room (and subsequently purchased) .
Ladies were admitted to the Smoking Room in 1933; some 60 years before it was agreed at the 1993 AGM, (28 votes for and 12 against) that Ladies be admitted to full membership. The resolution followed what the AGM Minutes describe as ‘a very lively but friendly debate when as many members spoke for the resolution as against, those against mainly trying to preserve the Smoking Room as a haven where men could read the papers and snooze after lunch without being obliged to talk to women’.
An Eastern Daily Press cartoon marking the 1993 resolution is displayed in the Library and an EDP Leader on 22nd January 1993 headed ‘Claiming Citadel’ read that
‘Women have taken the smoking –room, the last redoubt of male exclusiveness at the Norfolk Club in Norwich.
No doubt this is an act of self-interested enlightenment, but it could also be seen as a tactical withdrawal, whose effect is chiefly presentational.
Stalin once enquired as to the number of divisions available to the Pope. In yielding to the unstoppable tides, club hardliners may console themselves and ask how many women will claim their new right to the fallen, somnolent, smoke-filled citadel’.
There have been 4 Lady Presidents since 1993.
The Norfolk Club can no longer be described as a Gentlemen’s Club.
There are currently (2013) 565 Members of the Club, including 73 Ladies and 3 members of the Royal Family.
61 Tamar Street
Telephone: (03) 6331 4011
Established in 1882, the Launceston Club is only a short stroll to the centre of the CBD. It also serves as a central location for all of Northern Tasmania’s stunning natural attractions. The Club offers old world style and charm whilst blending traditional beliefs, values and service with the modern contemporary necessities expected in today’s society.
Members and Reciprocal members are encouraged to enjoy many of the Clubs facilities and social events including many fine epicurean experiences, arts , literature and musical events, club sporting activities, private and social functions and whilst travelling, enjoying the hospitality of our national and international reciprocal clubs.
Reciprocal members are encouraged to visit the Launceston Club and experience all the spectacular attractions Tasmania has to offer. The friendly efficient team at the Launceston Club is only too happy to assist members and reciprocal members with accommodation and destination arrangements.
22 The Mall
Telephone: 0117 974 5039
Fax: 0117 974 3910
The Clifton Club is Bristol's oldest existing private members' club located in a glorious Georgian building in the heart of Clifton Village. The traditional elegance and grandeur of the surroundings comes together with modern facilities to provide an exclusive environment in which male and female members of all ages are able to relax and socialise with like-minded people.
Telephone: 00 356 332011 / 12
The Malta Union Club was founded in 1826 by certain officers and civilians who leased the top floor, less the ballroom, of the Auberge de Provence in Strada Reale, now Republic Street, Valletta. Membership was restricted to eighty resident Members plus a number of Honorary Members. The present building was purposely constructed in 2000, on an adjacent site in Tigné Street, on the expiry of the lease of the last Club building. The Club took possession of and moved into the new Club House in 2002.
34 Queen Anne's Gate
Telephone: +44(0)207 2221382
Fax: +44(0)207 2228740
The Club was founded in 1870 under the patronage of Benjamin Disraeli, later Earl of Beaconsfield, as a convenient meeting place for Conservative Members of Parliament close to the House.
The Club remained in its original premises, overlooking the Thames opposite the Palace of Westminster, and linked to it by an underground passageway, until they were acquired by the Government in 1960 to facilitate plans to expand the Palace of Westminster.
Telephone: 020 7399 1000
Fax: 020 7355 1516
The Royal Air Force Club was founded in 1918 as a place where serving and ex-serving officers could meet, and in 1922 it was formally opened by HRH The Duke of York.
The bedroom and public room facilities at the Club are similar to those offered by other traditional, high-quality London establishments, but with many additional services and amenities for members who may wish to spend just a few daytime hours in its pleasant and stylish ambience.
1135 16TH STREET N.W.
Established in 1904 simply as the University Club, its first president was then Secretary of War and future United States President William Howard Taft. In 1936, it merged with the Racquet Club of Washington, and moved to its current location at 1135 Sixteenth Street NW, approximately three blocks north of the White House. During the Warren Court justices Earl Warren and Hugo Black would often use the Club's facilities to informally discuss and gather. The University Club of Washington, DC is a top city club with a diverse membership of professional, business, and government leaders. It is a favorite meeting spot for members and their guests - with the comfort and privacy of home away from home.
87, Collins St.
Telephone: +61 3 9654 3200
A proud resident of Collins Street, Melbourne since 1868, the Athenaeum is one of Australia’s oldest and finest clubs, confident in its heritage and traditions, yet enlightened and contemporary in its outlook. The Club’s fabric is designed so its members and guests can relax in the reading rooms, play billiards or snooker, enjoy a work out, stay in one of 16 accommodation rooms or dine in one of several distinctive venues, and always be assured of good company.
The Club’s location, service, facilities and first-class dining support its well-deserved international reputation, and its members are proud to bring both male and female guests into the Club to enjoy the fine attributes the Athenaeum Club is renowned for
189 Suriwongse Road
Telephone: 0066 2234 0247
Fax: 0066 2235 1560
The British Club Bangkok was founded on 23rd April, being Saint George’s Day, 1903 by a small group of British businessmen and diplomatic civil servants, in order to create a social club in the style enjoyed by their peers in the British Empire throughout Asia.
Telephone: 01502 566726
Fax: 01502 517981
Established in 1859, the aims of the Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club remain as set out by its founders: “To encourage yacht building and yacht sailing by amateurs; to encourage yacht racing by the promotion of regattas and the giving of prizes; and to maintain a clubhouse for the use of members”.
Telephone: 020 7626 8571
Fax: 020 7626 8572
The City University Club is a London gentlemen's club, established in 1895. Since its foundation, it has operated from the top three floors of 50 Cornhill, in the original building of Prescott's bank, a 1766 private bank now part of the Royal Bank of Scotland.