Oxford and Cambridge Club, Pall Mall
The Oxford and Cambridge University Club was founded in 1830 and eight years later moved into its magnificent, purpose-built home at 71 Pall Mall (seen from the rear in the photo below).
The clubhouse was designed by Robert and Sydney Smirke in the Greek Revival style that was fashionable at the time. It was Sydney’s first important commission and – although his better-known elder brother gets most, if not all, of the credit nowadays – it was said at the time that Sydney was primarily responsible for the facade.
Writing in 1836, Theodore Foster cautioned against “the danger of people going away with the impression, from the name of the club, that its members are essentially literary men” and this warning may still apply today. According to the club’s website, the clubhouse has benefited from various “extensions and discrete improvements”, though it probably means “discreet”.
The club has amalgamated with or absorbed several similar institutions over the years, most recently the United University Club in 1972, when it dropped the word ‘University’ and became the Oxford and Cambridge Club.
In 1996 the Oxford and Cambridge Club voted to allow women full membership rights, graciously permitting them “unhindered access to all areas”, to again quote from the website.