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Reform Club

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2252
Held at: Reform Club
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Full title: Reform Club
Date(s): 1831-2002
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: Approximately 1600 files, 900 volumes, 3 boxes, 1 audio cassette, 3 video cassettes, and a number of objects.
Name of creator(s): Reform Club | 1836-


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Reform Club was established in the context of political activity and ideas, which found expression in the passing of the Great Reform Act, 1832. It was instigated by Edward Ellice, MP for Coventry and the Whig Party whip, when he and a number of others of radical political persuasion were denied entrance to Brook's Club.

The Reform Club was initially located in a house at 104 Pall Mall, adapted for the club by Decimus Burton. In 1837, a competition was held for the design of a new clubhouse, and Charles Barry was declared the winner. The new clubhouse was opened in 1841, providing a morning room, coffee room, strangers' room, audience room parliamentary library, drawing room, and private drawing room and a map room. The interior also competed in 1841, was altered between 1852-1856m under the supervision of Barry, and in 1878, underwent a general refurbishment under the direction of his son E M Barry. The Club also had a large and well equipped kitchen. The French chef, and author, Alexis Soyer, proved a significant attraction of the club, until his resignation in 1850.

The Club provided a meeting place for members with a variety of political views including Whigs, Radicals, and Chartists. It became a symbol of Liberalism, and counted among its members Joseph Hume, George Grote, Prof E S Beesly, Louis Fagan, G E Buckle, Sir Anthony Panizzi, Sir Edward Sullivan, Sir Henry Irving, Samuel Plimsoll, and Sir Charles Dilke. Initially the Club members were politically very active, and included nearly 200 MPs and more than 50 peers. By 1890, this had decreased to about 120 MPs and a few peers, and by 1942 there were only 19 MPs who were members. This decrease appears to reflect the decline of the Liberal Party itself, as much as the club's role as a centre for political discussion, some of which had now moved to the National Liberal Club. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Club membership had a more literary bent, counting as members Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Hilaire Belloc, Lawrence Weaver, Stopford Brooke, Sir Paul Vinogradoff, Arnold Bennett, A T Bolton and Philip Guedella, as well as a number of publishers. However members also included the bankers and industrialists, and businessmen. Its current membership includes men and women of varied background and nationality, the criteria for admission being character, talent and achievement.

The Westminster Club was located in Albemarle Street, London. Members were eligible without restriction as to profession or business. Members are elected by ballot. In 1879, it charged an entrance fee of 5 guineas, and subscriptions at a rate of 5 guineas for town members, and 3 guineas for country members.

The Parthenon Club was located at 16 Regent St, the former home of the architect John Nash. It charged an entrance-fee of 20 guineas, with an annual subscription, of 7 guineas, and had about 700 members in 1850.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Reform Club comprising:

Administrative records:
Annual General Meeting attendance sheets 1914-1917; Order of business, 1877; notices and correspondence, 1931-1946; minutes 1837-1919, agenda and minutes, 1918-1931; Verbatim Reports, 1956-1965; transcripts, 1924-1999; extracts from reports of Committee, 1921-1929; and related papers 1918-1980;

papers relating to Extraordinary General Meetings, including requisition for meetings, 1871-1882; and meeting re the admission for ladies, 1931;

papers relating to the chambers including Report of the Chambers Committee, and draft tenancy agreement, and letters re tenancy conditions 1840; tenancy agreements, 1910-1933; Bedroom books for Chambers and Mezzanine, 1922-1928, 1944-1949; bedroom reservations, 1946; register of electors in Chambers, 1905; and related papers;

files relating to Club closure, including notices, correspondence, and petition, 1869-1953; hospitality offered to members of other clubs, 1939-1949; staff holidays, 1942;

papers relating to nomination of committee members, 1838-1948; ballot papers for committee elections, 1942-1947; Committee lists 1918-1945; notices of meetings, 1856-1871, 1949; scheduling of meetings, 1941-1945; attendance records for General Committee, and House and Finance Committee, 1900-19011921-1976; minutes of Westminster Club Committee 1834-1838; agendas of General and House Committee, 1836-1838, 1850-2000; minutes of General Committee, 1838-1999; papers on General Committee and Annual election day, 1982-1996; chairman's correspondence re membership, 1972-1977; printed report of General Committee on Club finances and future, 1980; Committee orders 1836; extracts of Committee reports re secretary's post, 1921-1929; minutes of Auditors Committee, 1884-1920; rough minutes of Building Committee, 1838-1840; minutes and report of Building Committee, 1837-1843; minutes and report of Furnishing Committee, 1840-1841; agendas of House and Finance Committee, 1863-1969; rough minutes of House and Finance Committee, 1836-1859; minutes of House and Finance Committee, 1836-1970; agendas of House Sub-Committee, 1966-1968;

agendas of Finance Committee, 1989-1996; minutes of Finance Committee, 1985-1999; minutes of Finance Sub-Committees, 1965-1976; papers of Finance Sub-Committees 1983-1992; agendas of Premises Sub-Committee, 1965-1976; minutes of Premises Sub-Committee, 1965-1976;

papers relating to the Political Committee including resolution for committee to promote the interests of the Liberal Party, 1845; agendas 1929-1947; minutes of Political Committee, 1869-1933; papers re results of Pembrokeshire election, and Free Trade candidates, 1904; correspondence re membership 1880-1889; report, 1886; correspondence 1880-1939; papers relating to Political Committee dinners, AGMs, elections, minutes and agendas, 1953-1996;

Wine and Cigars Committee agendas 1863-1904, minutes 1863-1989, and papers 1904-1921; Wine Sub-committee agendas, 1988-1996 and papers 1980-1997; notes from Committees 1841-1842; papers and reports from miscellaneous Sub-Committees, 1841-;

Finance and Accounts Sub-committee correspondence, 1944-45; Building and Planning Sub-committee correspondence, 1946-1947; Fabric Committee minutes 1982-1989; House and Fabric Sub-Committee agendas, 1989-1996, minutes 1990-1999; Management Committee minutes, 1978-1985; Membership Committee minutes 1983-1991; Social Committee agendas, 1988-1996, and minutes 1984-1999; Trading Sub-Committee papers 1984-1990; Trading and Catering Committee minutes 1984-1989; Catering Committee agendas 1989-1991, and minutes 1990-1999;

complaints book 1855-1865; Coffee room complaints book 1837-1842; suggestions books, 1906;

contracts for work at the Club, 1907-1916;

Secretary's letter books, 1836-1927; letter registers, 1947-1969; correspondence files 1840-1990; Club management files 1946-1988; correspondence and report on Hamilton Carvill inquiry re mismanagement, 1915-1966;

Club Chairman's correspondence, 1983-1990; deeds, 1926-1868; insurance policies and correspondence, 1859-1953; licences for servant and carriages, 1876-1904;

papers relating to the admission of ladies to the club including correspondence, notices, reports, questionnaires, speeches, 1927-1981; audio-cassette recording of speeches in honour of 20 year of ladies membership, 2001;

records relating to membership including correspondence 1939-1949; Election Council agendas, 1863-1865, minutes 1863-1866, ballot lists of candidates for election, 1879-1872; selected nomination letters, [1890-1939]; nomination forms, 1918-1982; ballot books, 1896-1932; lists of newly elected members, 1937-1948; candidates certificate books, 1864-1867; candidates books, 1924-1986; correspondence on proposed changes, 1930; correspondence on expulsions, 1852-1894; election of foreign nationals under Rule III for foreign nationals and British Colonists, 1856-1871; nominations forms for new and honorary members and letters of recommendation - under Rule III, 1877-1961; candidates, honorary members and elected members for admission under Rule III 1868-1872; Rule III honorary members, 1868-1872; candidates for election 1868-1872; Honorary members and new members elected 1870-1871;

lists of members, 1848-1988; list of members of Boodles, 1957, Army and Navy Club, 1959, East India and Sports Club 1959; Register of members and subscriptions paid, 1836-1857; subscription ledgers 1836-1844; subscription register 1836-1967; correspondence mainly re resignations, 1844-1948; correspondence re subscriptions, 1916, 1930-1948; payment reminders files, 1927-1946; papers on withdrawn membership applications, 1921-1937; papers on rejection of Baron de Forest's membership application, 1913, 1981; Membership Sub-committee papers, 1940-1997;

portraits of members including Spy cartoons, photographs, photograph album of members 1866-1891; photographs of Chairmen [1919]-1936;

Club notices, 1850-1982;

Dinner journals 1918-1955; Luncheon journals, 1841, 1918-1955; function bookings diaries, 1955-1964; kitchen book 1912-1913; stores stock book, 1917-1925; Strangers' Dinner book, 1917-1953; Strangers Dinner book, 1842-1846, 1916-1975; summary of meals served, 1907-1931; cigar stock books, 1901-1965; papers on cigar stocks, 1896; Tobacco Trade Association Agreement, 1943; butlers issue journal, 1912-1914; butlers requisition book 1935-1966; Dispense Bar stock, 1921-1922; wine lists, 1888-1937, 1984-1988; wine stock sheets, 1840, 1882-1890, 1916-1940; papers relating to the sale of wines, 1940-1941; papers re valuation of Club's Wines, 1930, and Bar stocktaking, 1974-1988;

Club rules and related papers, 1835-1964;

Papers relating to employment of servants and staff, 1836-including applications, correspondence, dismissal, resignation, discipline, insurance, holidays, quality of service, World War 2, unions 1856-1948; staff accident book, 1950-1983; Servants' Cricket Club donation book, 1865-1890; Servants library receipt, 1856, and annual report, 1892; staff livery receipts and orders, 1907-1927; Staff Recreation Club minutes, 1947-1967; photographs of staff days out [1950]; Staff football team correspondence, photographs and medals, 1991; signed staff regulations, 1907-1914; staff registers 1921-1970; file of Committee on staff, 1962-1963;

photographs and papers on George Hill, Wine Cellar Clerk, 1887-1952, and Mr Fry, Head Waiter 1948-1949, [1975];

papers relating to Alexis Benoit Soyer, (1809-1858), Reform Club Chef, including material gathered for exhibition, [1837-1900]; Soyer's letters, 1846-1851; printed material gathered for exhibition, [1900-1950]; list of subscribers for A Soyer's plan of the reform kitchens and cookery book, 1843-1944

postage books, 1947-1954; stationary dispensed, 1844-1845; papers re stationary supplies and orders, 1929-1932;

statistical data, 1919-1934; catalogue of Club's collection of portraits and busts, 1943; Porters daily registers 1930-1958; papers re lease and correspondence with the Crown Estate Office, 1985-1994; Quinquennial survey reports, 1963-1989;

Records relating to the Clubhouse building
Papers relating to the building of the Clubhouse designed by Charles Barry (1823-1900), including correspondence, specifications, rent agreement, lease, fundraising, and architects remuneration, 1836-1844;

papers relating to the furnishing of the clubhouse including tenders and estimates for furnishing, 1840-1841; report of Furniture Committee 1840; inventories of rooms, cutlery, plate glass, and linen, 1860-1893, 1916; proposed painting and decorating, 1869; the manufacture of Scagliola (marble plasterwork) 1989; photographs of furniture, 1995; correspondence re insurance, 1941-1945; installation of the lift, 1895-1896;

papers relating to building maintenance including bills, estimates, reports, and correspondence, 1870-1968, papers and photographs relating to renovation fo particular rooms, 1977-1983; correspondence with architects, 1986-1995; Restoration Fund account book, 1878; Building Improvement Fund account books, and cheque book, 1927-1928; income tax, maintenance claims, 1927-1954; display boards relating to external works, 2001;

records relating to raising of funds for acquisition of portraits including account books, 1879-1918; subscription lists 1888; correspondence, 1907-1910;

papers relating to parish rates including receipts 1870-1886, assessments and appeals, 1895-1936;

papers on the Club war memorial, 1922; relating to damage to the Club during World War 2, including estimates, bills, correspondence, insurance, 1939-1949;

papers relating to alternations to Carlton House Terrace Gardens, 1946-1947;

Records relating to Club entertainments:
Papers relating to organised club outings and in-house entertainments, 1985-1987;

Records relating to Club exhibitions:
Papers relating mainly to the exhibition commemoration the sesquicentenary of the founding of the club, and related published articles, 1986;

Records relating to Club finance:
Annual reports 1836-1848; annual reports and balance sheets, 1837-1967; annual reports and accounts, 1889-1999; balance sheets, 1969-1988; balance sheets and statement of accounts, 1968-present; monthly balance sheets, 1943-1945;

files containing accounts, balance sheets, Auditor's reports, and wine accounts, 1888-1914; Balance sheets of other London clubs, 1931-1945; Stocks, certificates and statements or audits, 1933-1946; correspondence relating to bank and building society accounts, 1921-1938, 1969-1973; account books 1831-1964, cashbooks, 1836-1991; bank pass books, 1870-1936; bank statements 1889, 1953-1954; cheques 1840-1947; vouchers 1847-1851, 1919-1920; cheque stubs, 1947-1948; cheque record books and registers, 1921-1950; Chambers bedroom returns, 1943-1944; Chambers receipts, 1927-1928, 1942-1944;

papers relating to debentures including bonds and bank receipts 1838-1877; interest coupons, 1872-1886; account books, 1870-1910; register, 1882-1891; correspondence, 1969-1973; ledger recording loans, 1969-1971;

financial estimates, 1984-1994; income tax assessment forms, 1890-1940; papers relating to investments, 1836-1982;

papers relating to provisions, including account ledger 1844-1849; weekly expenditure, 1836-1837; store account, 1945-46; auditors weekly statements, 1889; monthly profit and receipts, 1921-1937; profit and loss account books, 1923-1971; profit summary books, 1914-1916; books of unpaid dinner bills, 1916-1924; Coffee room bills, 1948; Luncheon bills, 1985; Coffee Room daily payments, 1925-1960; Stewards accounts, 1844-1847, 1906-1911, 1918-1925; petty cash, 1844-1858; ledger of Butlers payments, 1916-1920; wine books, 1885-1917; weekly returns, cigars and cigarettes, 1945-1949; receipts, 1850-1891, 1920, 1954;

papers relating to staff, including canteen financial records, 1932-1939; income tax correspondence, 1890-1953; insurance, 1921-1950; pensions, 1929-1950; war stock dividends, 1946-1963; provident (Christmas) and benefit fund, 1894-1997; repayment of staff income tax, 1927-1945; stock, 1925-1946; receipts for money received, 1859, 1932-1933; breakages account, 1860; recreation account 1932-1939; subscription books, 1929-1945; papers relating to staff wages, 1859-1959;

Records relating to Club functions:
Papers relating to Annual Committee Dinner 1903-1995; correspondence relating to allocation of Ascot tickets to the Club, 1935-1936; papers relating to Club and members' balls, 1984-1997; Anniversary dinners, 1837-1991; special dinners, 1910-2001; Lord's Cricket Week, 1924-1938; Royal occasions, 1837-1953; auxiliary staff, 1925-1929; social functions, 1985-1995; and miscellaneous papers, 1832-1986;

Records relating to Club members' games:
Papers relating to Billiards room, 1898-1957; Bridge, 1933-1939; Card room, 1892-1920; Chess circle, 1925-1981; Cricket Club, 1931-1938; Golf competition, 1933-1935; Squash 1932-1945; notices of games 1859-1948;

Records relating to Club groups, societies and lectures:
Atkins Lecture, 1985-2002; Austerity Group, 1947-2000; Sir Charles Barry, 1989-1995; Economic Group, 1970-1981; Thackeray Society, 1992, [1998]; wartime lectures, 1943-1945;

Records relating to Club history:
Papers relating to articles, publications, correspondence and reminiscences, concerning the Club's history, 1910-2002;

Records relating to politics:
Political and satirical cartoons, mostly copies [1857-1995]

Records relating to the Club during wartime:
Correspondence with the British Red Cross Society, 1914; WW2 damage to Club House, 1939-1945, Motor ambulance fund, 1940

Miscellaneous records:
Parthenon Club minute book, 1858-1861; photographs, pictures, cartoons, certificates, manuscripts, news cuttings, videos, ephemera, and museum objects relating to the Club [1890-1998].

Records relating to the Club library:
Papers relating to the administration of the Library, including records of donations and purchase, 1841-1846, 1879-1989; lists and correspondence concerning books held on approval, 1911-1984; binding records, 1924-1984; borrowing scheme 1941-1945; British Lending Library records, 1981-1984; catalogues 1884-1953; file on cleaning of volumes, 1984;

Library Committee agendas 1901-1992, minutes 1841-1986, and correspondence 1904-1990; Library Committee policy file, 1967; Library Committee reports 1893-1960; Librarian's reports for the Committee 1940-1987; Library Sub-Committee report on publications in progress, 1942-1944;

Library administrative files 1915-1989; records of books for disposal, 1948-1986; Library Guide, 1898; papers concerning insurance, 1940-1948; missing books, 1933-1946; lists of annuals, newspapers and periodicals, 1919-1984; order books, 1920-1975; Library Rules, 1884; Suggestions Book 1885-1892; valuations of books, 1929-1979; Library diary, 1985-1987; and related papers.

Library financial records 1915-1986;

Library Centenary souvenir book, 1941; The Reform Club and its Library, 1894; 'Founding of the Reform Club Library', David Griffit, unpublished 1996.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

In sections listed above.

Conditions governing access:

By appointment only. Contact The Librarian, Reform Club, 104 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5EW. Tel: 020 7747 4608
Records less than 30 years old are closed.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies available.

Finding aids:

Reform Club Main Catalogue, unpublished catalogue of the archives, including name index of notable personages on whom there is information within the archive.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Generated and retained in situ by the Reform Club

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

The Reform Club, George Woodbridge, 1978

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Historical Manuscripts Commission's On-Line National Register of Archives; unpublished Reform Club Main Catalogue; 'The Reform Club', J Mordaunt Crook, Reform Club, London, 1973; Hand-Book of London, 1850 Peter Cunningham; Dickens's Dictionary of London, Charles Dickens (Jr.), 1879.
Compiled by Alison Field as part of the London Signpost Survey Project.

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:
September 2003

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