St James’s Club - History and Facts | History Hit

St James’s Club

London, England

Tristan Parker

20 Sep 2021
Image Credit: Paul Farmer / CC

About St James’s Club

Found in the affluent London area of Mayfair, St James’s Club is a historic venue and private members’ club dating back to 1857. Its esteemed former members include Winston Churchill, Evelyn Waugh and Ian Fleming.

History of St James’s Club

The club was founded in 1857 by Earl Granville and Italian politician Marchese d’Azeglio, aimed primarily at travelling diplomats who needed a base in London. The pair set up the club after a dispute at another private members’ club they both belonged to, The Travellers Club. It’s claimed by St James’s Club that to help kickstart Granville and d’Azeglio’s new operation, fellow diplomat Francis Cavendish sent out a letter from the British Foreign Office to all British Embassies in an attempt to recruit members for St James’s.

The club closed in 1978, but reopened in 1980 after being financed by entrepreneur Peter De Savary (this was in a new location on Park Place, a small street adjoining St James’s Street, still in Mayfair). In 2008 the club reopened again as St James’s Hotel and Club.

Former members have included politicians such as Lord Randolph Churchill (Winston Churchill’s father), Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (politician and renowned art collector) and former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, as well as various notable authors, including Evelyn Waugh, Henry James and Ian Fleming, creator of the James Bond spy series.

It’s believed that Fleming actually lived at the club briefly during the 1940s, leaving in 1946. Fleming spent a lot of time around Mayfair (where St James’s Club was – and still is – based) and its exclusive clubs, and was actually born in the area, on Green Street, just a short distance from St James’s Club.

More recent members of St James’s in its newer incarnations have included Liza Minelli, Dudley Moore, Michael Caine, Pete Townshend and – fittingly considering the Ian Fleming connection – Sean Connery, the first actor to portray James Bond in a film.

The club has also played host to numerous celebrities and famous faces from the entertainment world at various events and parties. Some of the many to have visited the club include Barbra Streisand, Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, Olivia Newton-John, Jeremy Irons, Elton John, Samuel L. Jackson, Keith Richards, Cher and Sir Roger Moore, another former James Bond in multiple films.

St James’s Club today

St James’s Hotel and Club operates today and claims that it welcomes new members. There is also a Michelin-starred restaurant at the venue, Seven Park Place.

Getting to St James’s Club

The modern-day version of St James’s Hotel and Club is on Park Place in Mayfair, London. Green Park Tube station is a short walk away and there are also other tube stations within easy reach, including Piccadilly Circus.

Trafalgar Square is around 15 minutes away on foot, and other famous London sights such as Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey are also nearby.

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