Travellers Club

The Travellers Club is a gentlemen's club standing at 106 Pall Mall, London. It is the oldest of the Pall Mall clubs, having been established in 1819, and was recently described by the "Los Angeles Times" as "the quintessential English gentleman's club".Fact|date=September 2007 Visits are possible by invitation only.


The Club was founded as a meeting place for gentlemen who had travelled abroad, and as a place where they might offer hospitality to distinguished visitors from overseas. The original rules of 1819 excluded from membership anyone "“who has not travelled out of the British islands to a distance of at least five hundred miles from London in a direct line”". [ [ Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850] ] Candidates for membership are still expected to list four of the foreign countries that they have visited before they are considered for election although under current rules any foreign travel is technically sufficient.


Prospective members (as in most gentlemen's clubs) have to be proposed and seconded by two existing members, and a book is then kept for other members who know the candidate to sign. When enough members have signed in support, and the candidate has attended a reception to meet members of the Election Committee, the candidate is considered for election to membership by the Election Committee. The club is, therefore, a self-perpetuating body in which no-one who is a stranger to the existing membership can join.

The members of the club's first Committee included the Earl of Aberdeen (later Prime Minister), Lord Auckland (after whom Auckland, New Zealand is named), the Marquess of Lansdowne (who had already served as Chancellor of the Exchequer and later refused office as Prime Minister) and Viscount Palmerston (later Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister).

Subsequent members included statesmen and travellers such as Prime Minister George Canning,cite web
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] the Duke of Wellington, Lord John Russell, Prime Minister Arthur Balfour, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home, Francis Beaufort (creator of the Beaufort scale), Robert FitzRoy of HMS "Beagle", Sir William Edward Parry (explorer of the Northwest Passage), Sir Roderick MurchisonFact|date=September 2008 (after whom the Murchison crater on the Moon is named) and Sir Wilfred Thesiger. Novelist Anthony Powell was a member and the club is featured in various guises in the work of Graham Greene, Jules Verne and William Makepeace Thackeray.

The club's honorary members include members of the British and foreign royal families, the British Foreign Secretary whilst in office, and various ambassadors to London, but there is also a special category of membership for particularly distinguished travellers, explorers and travel writers, who presently include Colonel John Blashford-Snell, [cite web
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] Tahir Shah,Fact|date=September 2008 Sandy Gall, [ More Tales from the Travellers] ] Tim Severin,Fact|date=September 2008 Sir Mark Tully,Fact|date=September 2008 Sir Ranulph Fiennes, John Simpson,Fact|date=September 2008 Nicholas CraneFact|date=September 2008 and Sir Edmund Hillary.Fact|date=September 2008

Other well known current members include Field Marshal Lord Brammall,Fact|date=September 2008 Patrick Maitland, 17th Earl of Lauderdale,Fact|date=September 2008 Terry Waite,Fact|date=September 2008 Sir Christopher OndaatjeFact|date=September 2008 (Overseas Member), Douglas Hurd,Fact|date=September 2008 General Sir Mike JacksonFact|date=September 2008 and Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor.Fact|date=September 2008 But the total membership is now 1,200 (it is deliberately kept relatively small so that it does not become too impersonal) and all the members are people with an interest in travel and good fellowship, whatever their profession.

Originally, as with all the gentlemen's clubs, women were not allowed to join or to enter but women are now admitted as guests and may also have a form of associate membership known as the Lady's Card to which they must be nominated by an existing member.


The club's original premises were at 12 Waterloo Place.

It moved to 49 Pall Mall in 1821 (a building which had once been occupied by Brooks's). However, it quickly outgrew this building and in 1826 the members decided to spend £25,000 on the construction of a purpose built club house on the present site at 106 Pall Mall, backing onto the gardens of Carlton House.

The architect was Sir Charles Barry who was later to be the architect for the Houses of Parliament, and the Travellers Club building proved to be one of his masterpieces. It takes the form of a Renaissance palace which is said to have been inspired by Raphael's Palazzo Pandolfini in Florence. It was completed in 1832, with the tower (which had been in Barry's original design) added in 1842.

The club building includes a smoking room (a large common room which looks over Carlton Gardens), the cocktail bar and adjacent Bramall room (which gives access to Carlton Gardens), the Outer Morning Room (a large drawing room overlooking Pall Mall, and connecting to an Inner Morning Room), and the dining room (known as the Coffee Room). "The Times" on 10 January 2004 noted "the wonderful dining, heavy on fish and game (partridges to potted shrimps) with echoes of school food (bread pudding) and a superb wine cellar".

The magnificent library is decorated with a frieze cast from the marbles of the 5th century Greek temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae. The originals of this frieze were discovered by the architect Charles Robert Cockerell, who was on the first Committee of the Club in 1819, and they are now in the British Museum. The library has a large and important collection of books, from the antiquarian to the modern, mainly on travel and international subjects. The Travellers Club was the original home of the London Library.

There are a number of bedrooms at the club for out-of-town members.

The dress code is formal. Gentlemen are required to wear a jacket and tie; denim, sports shoes and other casual attire are not permitted.

ee also

*List of London's gentlemen's clubs

Notes and references

External links

* [ Travellers Club website]
* [ Photos of club interiors]
* [ Survey of London] - detailed, illustrated architectural history
* [ Photographs of the Pall Mall elevation of the Travellers Club]
* [ Nineteenth century texts on the Travellers Club]
* [ 2003 article on secret diplomatic negotiations with Libya at the Travellers Club]

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