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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 LMA/4179
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1725-1992
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 6.477 linear metres.
Name of creator(s): Army and Navy Club


Administrative/Biographical history:

Founded in August 1837, the Club was formed to meet the needs of the many army officers wanting to join a Service Club, most of which were already full. The Duke of Wellington said he would become neither a patron nor a Member unless membership was also offered to officers of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Hence, the "Army and Navy Club" came into being.

The Club acquired its nickname from Captain William (Billy) Higginson Duff. He described the Club as a 'Rag and Famish affair' which was intended as a great insult, since the 'Rag and Famish' was a squalid gaming house 'for broken down gamblers who played for coppers'. The Members were amused rather than insulted by this and formed a 'Rag and Famish' dining club. The name was gradually adopted as the Club's nickname, eventually being reduced to 'The Rag'.

The Club has actively collected and commissioned works of art which decorate the clubhouse (See House Committee Minutes LMA/4179/01/05/01). Their collection even includes a mounted penguin which is a survivor from the first Scott Antarctic Expedition.


The Club also assembled an impressive library for its members. The Library Committee records (LMA/4179/01/06) provide an insight into the interests of the membership.

The membership of the club appears to have expected a high level of hospitality. A separate committee was instituted to oversee the Club's wine (LMA/4179/01/07) and the food on offer at the Club was frequently discussed by the General Committee (LMA/4179/01/02).

From 1962 women were granted Associate Membership of the Club (see LMA/4179/02/01/002).

The first club house opened its doors in 1838. Originally the Club leased 18 Saint James Square, which had formerly been occupied by the Oxford and Cambridge Club. Premises then moved to 15 Saint James Square, Lichfield House, in 1843 but the search for more permanent premises began. During 1846-7 six freehold properties in Saint James Square were purchased on the corner with Pall Mall. In January 1846 the Club initiated a competition to design their new club house. After a false start, Alfred Smith and C O Parnell won the competition. Building began in 1848 and doors opened in 1851. Major renovations took place in 1878-9 and 1924-7. New buildings to the rear of the club house were leased in 1919 to accommodate demand for bedrooms.


The historic building was demolished in 1958. During the rebuilding, the club used 46 and 47 Pall Mall which were subsequently sold. The club house, in its present state, opened in 1963.

See LMA/4179/05 for the documents relating to the club real estate.

This catalogue is dedicated to the memory of Anthony Dixon, the Army and Navy Club's Honorary Archivist. He was instrumental in the transfer of this collection to LMA and provided invaluable assistance in the cataloguing of this collection as a volunteer. Unfortunately, he passed away before the catalogue could be completed.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Army and Navy Club, including Committee and Annual General Meeting minutes; annual reports with printed members lists (1847-1933); annual statements of accounts and other finance; Members admissions, deaths and resignations, members accounts and payments, candidate books, and newsletters.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The collection comprises the following sub-fonds:
LMA/4179/01: Committees and meetings;
LMA/4179/02: Members;
LMA/4179/03: Staff;
LMA/4179/04: Finance;
LMA/4179/05: Property;
LMA/4179/06: Legal.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information may be subject to access restrictions.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

In 1917 many records were destroyed assumed to have been pulped for the war effort explaining early gaps in the records (Firebrace History).

Immediate source of acquisition:

Records deposited in three accessions, in 2006 and 2007.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The LMA holds various club records including:
A/COW Cowdray Club;
ACC/2371 Brooks Club;
A/UNC Union Club;
ACC/2989 United Hospitals Club;
F/PCK Arthurs Club;
O/401 New University Club;
O/453 Conservative Club;
LMA/4452 Oriental Club;
LMA/4519 Travellers Club;
CLC/040 Centenary Club;
CLC/008 Gresham Club;
LMA/4572 Boodles Club.

Publication note:

Two published histories of the Club are available: The Army and navy club, 1837-1933 by Cordell William Firebrace, 1934. Available at GUILDHALL LIBRARY, reference L 24:A 741.

The Army and Navy Club 1837-2008, Anthony Dixon; Army and Navy Club (London) Book. 2009 Available at GUILDHALL LIBRARY, reference L 24.

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Records prepared May to September 2011.

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