Close to the heart of London’s City, a place where the past and the glittering, lucrative present rub shoulders, City university club bridges the divide between the future and a genteel heritage.
London is an ever-changing city, with new restaurants and bars popping up, only to disappear just as fast. In this whirlwind city, continuity can be a bit of a luxury. How pleasing, therefore, to encounter one of the city’s long-established private members’ clubs in one of the oldest parts of London, a district steeped in history.
After 112 years in one spot, City University Club moved to new premises last year and joined forces with an equally renowned establishment, Lloyds Club, which was faltering. The merger under the name City University Club enabled both clubs to take a decisive step into the future while still firmly retaining their traditional values and ethos. City University Club of London was founded in 1895 by Oxford and Cambridge graduates who wanted a lunch club in the City. With membership originally limited to alumni of the two universities, the club later opened its gates to admit members who had not passed through the hallowed halls of Oxbridge. Now, the club prides itself on its wider membership, embracing both sexes and many professions.
Lloyds Club was founded in 1920 and served its members at several locations before moving to the City to occupy a beautiful listed building. The clubhouse is built on the site of a monastery of an order that emerged in the thirteenth century and disappeared roughly 300 years later. The monastery was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, but the name of the order lives on in the address of the clubhouse: 42 Crutched Friars. The building erected here after the fire has served as a club and offices for over two centuries. At the beginning of 2018, City University Club merged with Lloyds and moved here from its previous address. The merger has been a boon, providing access to larger premises at the heart of the City: the clubhouse is approximately 300 yards east of the insurance bourse Lloyd’s and a similar distance from the Tower of London, the Bank of England is within walking distance. With a location like this, it is little surprise that the club’s members are predominantly from the commercial and professional businesses with an emphasis on insurance and financial services.
City University Club is primarily a luncheon club, and as such the dining facilities and bar form its true heart. The formal restaurant with silver and crisp linen serves seasonal menus featuring contemporary and traditional cuisine, along with a good selection of fine wines. The Brasserie offers the same high standards, but in a slightly more relaxed atmosphere and perhaps with a more Asian influence on the cuisine. The cosy and inviting bar serves wine, spirits and cocktails, and is the perfect place for a postlunch or pre-dinner drink. A wide range of sandwiches and snacks is also available.
Although it has firmly arrived in the 21st century, the club abides by its old traditions and standards and aims to promote an atmosphere that is both formal, friendly and business related. However, mobile phones and business papers are discouraged. Suitable attire is also expected: gentlemen should wear jackets and ties, while ladies are expected to dress appropriately. The clubhouse also has a choice of private meeting rooms for meetings away from the office; full secretarial services, WiFi and suitable refreshments can be provided on request. The suites are also ideal for private lunches or other functions.
Walking through the clubhouse, visitors will be struck by the impressive art on display throughout the building. The art works are on loan, continuing a long-held tradition of Lloyds Club.
As befits a club with such a long history, it boasts a long list of famous former members, including members of the aristocracy such as the Duke of Connaught, who was the third son of Queen Victoria, Sir Peregrine Worsthorne, the editor of the Daily Telegraph newspaper, the British writer Evelyn Waugh, and Sir Chips Keswick, currently the chairman of Arsenal football club.
Although the club is primarily open for lunch, it also organises regular evening events for its members, including wine tastings and butchery masterclasses, special themed lunches, as well as outings, including an annual excursion to the Royal Ascot horse races in June. This day at the races is one of the highlights of the social year, and the tickets include access to the club’s own gazebo in the Queen Anne Enclosure to watch some of the finest racehorses compete in the Prince of Wales’ Stakes – said to be Ascot’s most important race of the modern era – from the beautiful lawns and terraces – and perhaps even indulge in a little flutter. Reciprocal members are welcome to join this exciting excursion.