b'SOCIETYTHE MOST INFAMOUS BE T IN CLUB HISTORY WA S PL ACED AT THE HEIGHT OF THE HOT AIR BALLO ON CR A ZEthat met weekly for dinner and discussion. While the standing of Johnsons Club was of the highest order, not all could boast an8 1immaculate reputation. Behind closed doors, members could enjoy the sort of illicit activities that might otherwise attract the attention of the constabulary, such as illegal gaming and evenit was whisperedentertaining individuals whose companionship could be purchased by the hour.Several Clubs were renowned for excessive gambling. The Whites betting book reveals that the Clubs members were willing travelled at least 500 miles from London.Despite their individual idiosyncrasies, Clubsto bet large sums on everything from when None of the aforementioned clubs admittedfunctioned as a home-from-home for theira child would be born to which member women, but from 1886 females could join themembersso much so, in fact, that therewould die first. At Crockfords, Lord Rivers University Club for Ladies.existed a fear that these exclusively malenotoriously lost 23,000 in a single sitting Each Club was different, but membersspaces posed a threat to wedded bliss. In 1833,of cards. Perhaps the most infamous bet in were usually admitted by nomination andLady Sydney Morgan wrote: I had a peep atLondon Club history was placed at Brookss a democratic vote. Successful applicantsclub lifethe Travellers. It is the perfection ofin 1784 at the height of the hot air balloon were then liable for the (inevitably sizeable)domestic life! Every comfort at once suggestedcraze, when it was agreed that if Lord annual dues. Clubs were typically housed inand supplied; good reasons for not marrying!Cholmondeley ever became intimate with a building in a fashionable part of LondonShe warned: Women must get up to thisa woman in a balloon one thousand yards that was immaculately furnished, andpoint, or they will only be considered asfrom the Earth, he would be paid 500 attended to by a coterie of servants includingburthens. Some of the young husbands ofguineas by Lord Derby. Alas, the record does butlers, maids and cooks (or, in the case ofthe handsomest wives live at their clubs. not reveal the outcome of this particular wager.the best Clubs, chefs). At one Club all servantsWhen Samuel Johnson published hisThe changing social mores of the were referred to as George, and at anotherfamous dictionary in 1755, he describedVictorian era certainly subdued some of as Charles. Rule books were extensive, anda Club as an assembly of good fellows,the extreme earlier excesses of the Clubsexpanded regularlyoften in direct responsemeeting under certain conditions. Later, inpublicly, at least. Despite what may have gone to an indiscretion committed on the premises. 1764, he co-founded The Club, an elite groupon behind closed doors, most Clubs exuded'