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IN THE NEWS
TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
25th May 1905 Born today: Binnie Barnes, London, actress (Adv of Marco Polo, Diamond Jim)
25th May 1878 Gilbert/Sullivans opera HMS Pinafore, premieres in London
White's Gentleman's Club
The venue for Prince Charles stag do before marrying Diana.
Location: 37-38 St James
Description: White's is a London gentlemen's club, first established at 4 Chesterfield Street in 1693 by Italian immigrant Francesco Bianco (AKA Francis White). In 1778 it moved to here on St James.
Originally it was a hot chocolate house, a rare and expensive commodity at the time (and the source of its original title of Mrs. White's Chocolate House). These chocolate houses were seen as hotbeds of dissent by Charles II, but many converted into fashionable and respectable gentlemen's clubs like White's.
From 1783 it was the unofficial headquarters of the Tory party, The Whigs' Brooks's club was just down the road.
It became a place where gambling was for high stakes and bets would be taken on anything. One member bet 1000 that man could live under water for 12 hours. A dodgy chap was hired, and sunk in a ship by way of experiment - but the bet was lost!
One of White's former Chairmen was British Prime Minister David Cameron's father, Ian Cameron.
The architect is not definitely known, but in 1852 The Builder journal stated that 'the original front of the building was designed by James Wyatt'. Certainly, much of the building suggests Wyatt, who is named as the designer of the decorations for the great ball given in 1789 by White's and held in Wyatt's own Pantheon.
The Adam design for rebuilding 'White's Chocolate House' consists of eight drawings, now in Sir John Soane's Museumplans of the basement, ground, principal and attic storeys, three sections, and a front elevationall inscribed 'Robert Adam' and dated 1787.
In 1981 Prince Charles on the eve of his royal wedding to Lady Diana Spencer announced a fireworks display in Hyde Park but sneaked off to White's for a few drinks with friends that formed his stag do. Prince William is also a member.
Other fans include Beau Brummell, every prime minister from Walpole to Peel,
Randolph Churchill and Evelyn Waugh
Tagged in this Tour: The Kate & William Wedding Tour