One of the most abundant classes of crests is that of the London clubs, which were such a feature of the life of middle and upper class gentlemen through the Victorian era. Most albums will contain at least one crest of this type, and many have several examples. These clubs, which were intended to be a home from home for the well-to-do, provided crested stationery and envelopes for the use of members, a factor in their abundance.

Among the more commonly encountered club crests is that of the Naval and Military Club, known affectionately as the In and Out from the directive lettering on its gateposts. The attractive crest illustrated above was probably from a set or from an invitation. The usual crest was in a single colour, with examples being noted in blue, black, red and brown.


The crest of the Athenaeum Club was designed by Sir Thomas Lawrence. It is usually found blind impressed: the pink confection is from a set of ‘club’ crests. The club was founded in 1824 for the association of men of eminence and attainment in science, art and literature, and their patrons.


The Albermarle Club is best remembered as the place where Lord Queensberry left his card for Oscar Wilde, placed within one of the Albermarle’s crested envelopes.

Many of the leading clubs had, in their heydays, long waiting lists: sixteen years for the Athenaeum at one time. Partly because of this junior clubs were established for the Athenaeum, Army and Navy, Carlton, Constitutional, and United Service among others.


The clubs were, of course, restricted initially to males. Inevitably the restriction was eased with women being admitted as associate members. In some cases there was total emancipation, as at the Ladies Carlton and Ladies Army and Navy Clubs.


The East India United Service Club, despite its name, was a London club. It was founded in 1849 for the East India Company’s employees including those on home leave and retired.

The Garrick, which has an attractive crest, was founded in 1831 not exclusively for actors. Among its best known members were Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, Anthony Trollope, W S Gilbert, Arthur Sullivan and, after being initially blackballed, Henry Irving.


In the 1880s William Cody, Buffalo Bill, visited England and wrote:

Then I was made an honorary member of nearly all the clubs, social, festive, artistic, fashionable, and many of them were distinctly distinguishing. Notably the Reform Club, where I met the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and other royalty. Then there was luncheon at the Mansion House with the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress; dinner at the Beaufort Club, where that fine sportsman, the Duke of Beaufort, was host; a memorable evening at the Savage Club with Mr. Wilson Barrett -just home from an American tour- presiding, with such choice spirits present as Henry Irving, John L. Toole and a host of others of the art, literary and histrionic element of London and the world.

The Duke of Teck entertained me at United Arts Club, Lord Bruce and other lords at the St. George's Club.

St Stephen’s Club was founded in 1870. Its original position was close to the Houses of Parliament and there was a connecting tunnel through which those of its members who were Conservative MPs could walk when the club’s division bell sounded.

The Wanderers Club had some attractive and impressive crests.

Return to HOME


Page updated 20 MARCH 2001