PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston November 2022

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 43 of 131

I magine this: You're a gentleman living in London in the late 1800s, perhaps with the title of baron or viscount. You're not the sort that would actually have a job but nonetheless, there are the pressures of society and the world outside your country house. One might assume your home would be your sanctuary, a private retreat away, but they would be wrong. No, home in those days was a woman's domain; as a member of the elite class, your life there was rife with the responsibility of entertaining guests, hosting dinners and formal teas — an exhausting exercise. A gentleman in the 19th century needed a social club, a place to get away from it all for You, Darling It's Not Taking root from London's centuries-old gentlemen's clubs, the new private social clubs take a page from Boodle's, Brooks's, and White's. By Laurann Claridge and relax — somewhere a little manly, with nary a woman in sight. The more exclusive, the better. In socially and politically stratified Great Britain (then and even now; more on that later), few things are more coveted than a membership in one (or several) of London's gentleman's clubs. White's, Boodle's and Brooks's numbered among the most selective; waiting lists once were nearly 20 years long, and the requirements for entry were quite daunting. Outside the walls of these clubs, one's social status was conferred, but inside, those lines were quite blurred. In environs often built by architects who created some of the grandest country houses, you'd find a lavish home away from home, equipped with a formal dining room, bar, library, billiards room with parlors devoted to reading and gaming, and even bedrooms and baths, should you require them. Anthony Lejeune, author of The Gentleman's Clubs of London (1979), chronicled the existence of those clubs late into the 20th century. He writes, "A good club is much more than a mere catering establishment. It should be a refuge from the vulgarity of the outside world, a reassuringly fixed point, the echo of a more civilized way of living, a place where (as was once said of an Oxford college) people still prefer a silver salt cellar which doesn't pour like a plastic one does." A respite from the restrictive roles of the 18th- and 19th-century gentleman, here the discussion of work was verboten — but gossip was not. In fact, the more titillating the better. To climb each rung of the proverbial social ladder, men who possessed certain details that others did not could leverage (Continued) FROM THE BOOK THE ALLURE OF MEN, ASSOULINE; PHOTOGRAPHER WEEGEE, 1941 42

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of PaperCity Magazine - PaperCity Houston November 2022