Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 The Army and Navy Club


The Army and Navy Club-house, Pall Mall, corner of George-street, designed by Parnell and Smith, was opened February 1851. The exterior is a combination from Sansovino's Palazzo Cornaro, and Library of St. Mark at Venice; but varying in the upper part, which has Corinthian columns, with windows resembling arcades filling up the intercolumns; and over their arched headings are groups of naval and military symbols, weapons, and defensive armour—very picturesque. The frieze has also effective groups symbolic of the Army and Navy; the cornice, likewise very bold, is crowned by a massive balustrade. The basement, from the Cornaro, is rusticated; the entrance being in the centre of the east or George-street front, by three open arches, similar in character to those in the Strand front of Somerset House. The whole is extremely rich in ornamental detail. The hall is fine; the coffee-room is panelled with scagliola, and has a ceiling enriched with flowers, and pierced for ventilation by heated flues above; adjoining is a room lighted by a glazed plafond; next is the house dining-room, decorated in the Munich style; and more superb is the morning-room, with its arched windows, and mirrors forming arcades and vistas innumerable. A magnificent stone staircase leads to the library and reading rooms; and in the third story are billiard and card rooms; and a smoking-room, with a lofty dome elaborately decorated in traceried Moresque. The apartments are adorned with an equestrian portrait of Queen Victoria, painted by Grant, R.A.; a piece of Gobelin tapestry (Sacrifice to Diana), presented to the Club in 1849 by Prince Louis Napoleon; marble busts of William IV. and the Dukes of Kent and Cambridge; and several life-size portraits of naval and military heroes. The Club-house is provided with twenty lines of Whishaw's Telekouphona, or Speaking Telegraph, which communicate from the Secretary's room to the various apartments. The cost of this superb edifice, exclusive of fittings, was 35,000l.; the plot of ground on which it stands cost the Club 52,000l.

The Club system has added several noble specimens of ornate architecture to the metropolis; to the south side of Pall Mall these fine edifices have given a truly patrician air. But, it is remarkable that while both parties political have contributed magnificent edifices towards the metropolis and their opinions; while the Conservatives can show with pride two splendid piles and the Liberals at least one handsome one; while the Army and Navy have recently a third palace—the most successful of the three they can boast; while the Universities, the sciences, even our Indian empire, come forward, the fashionable clubs, the aristocratic clubs do nothing for the general aspect of London, and have made no move in a direction where they ought to have been first. Can anything be more paltry than that bay-window from which the members of White's contemplate the cabstand and the Wellington Tavern? and yet a little management might make that house worthy of its unparalleled situation; and if it were extended to Piccadilly, it would be the finest thing of its kind in Europe.

John Timbs
Club Life of London Vol. I
London, 1866