Clermont Club

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44 Berkeley Square, first home of the Clermont Club. Since 1963 the basement has been the location of the exclusive Annabel's nightclub (entrance at left), operated originally in conjunction with the Clermont Club

The Clermont Set was an exclusive group of rich British gamblers who met at the Clermont Club, originally at 44 Berkeley Square, in London's fashionable Mayfair district. It closed in March 2018.

Premises[edit]

The house at 44 Berkeley Square was built in 1740 (to the design of the architect William Kent) by Lady Isabella Finch (1700-1771), the 7th daughter of Daniel Finch, 7th Earl of Winchilsea, 2nd Earl of Nottingham (1647–1730). It is famed for its theatrical staircase and large Grand Saloon, "one of the finest rooms of its scale and period in London",[1] the design of which was based on the famous Double Cube Room at Wilton House in Wiltshire.[1] She never married but became Lady of the Bedchamber to Princess Amelia, a spinster aunt of King George III.[1] It was purchased after her death by William Henry Fortescue, 1st Earl of Clermont (1722-1806), an Irish peer, and served as his London townhouse.[2] The Clermont Club later moved to 27–28 Curzon Street, also in Mayfair, and was renamed Aspinall's.

History[edit]

It was the first London casino opened by John Aspinall after he received a gaming licence under Britain's new gambling law. Aspinall sold the club in 1972 to Playboy Enterprises, which was forced to sell it in 1982 when it lost its licence.[3]

Members[edit]

The club was founded in 1962 by John Aspinall and the original membership included five dukes, five marquesses, almost twenty earls and two cabinet ministers.[4]

Society figures who frequented the club included Peter Sellers,[5] Ian Fleming, David Stirling, Lucian Freud, Lord Lucan, Lord Derby, Lord Boothby, and the Duke of Devonshire.[4]

Businessman members included James Goldsmith, Gianni Agnelli, Jim Slater, and Kerry Packer.

Private Eye allegations[edit]

In 1976 Goldsmith initiated a libel action against the satirical magazine Private Eye, which had alleged that members of the Clermont Set, including Goldsmith, had conspired to shelter Lord Lucan after Lucan had murdered his family nanny, Sandra Rivett. Goldsmith won a partial victory and eventually reached a settlement with the magazine.

See also[edit]

  • The Mayfair Set, a 1999 BAFTA Award-winning documentary series by Adam Curtis describing how buccaneer capitalists were allowed to shape the climate of the Thatcher years, focussing on members of the Clermont Club.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Kinross, Lord
  2. ^ 44 Berkeley Square, A Commentary by Lord Kinross Illustrated by Adrian Daintrey, London, 1962 [1]
  3. ^ Walsh, Dominic (2006-08-16). "Clermont Club set to fall to Malaysian billionaire". The Times. London. Retrieved 2011-05-19. 
  4. ^ a b Hiscock, John. "Gangsters in a class of their own ...", Daily Telegraph 21 February 2009
  5. ^ Wright, Jade, "Expect fireworks", Liverpool Echo, 23 February 2009