Pall Mall, South Side, Existing Buildings: The United Service Club, The Athenaeum

Survey of London: Volumes 29 and 30, St James Westminster, Part 1. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1960.

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'Pall Mall, South Side, Existing Buildings: The United Service Club, The Athenaeum', in Survey of London: Volumes 29 and 30, St James Westminster, Part 1, (London, 1960) pp. 386-399. British History Online [accessed 29 February 2024]

In this section

The United Service Club: the Athenaeum

These two club-houses are discussed together because the history of their design and erection is closely inter-related

The club-houses of the United Service Club and the Athenaeum stand upon part of the site formerly occupied by Carlton House (fn. 1) and its surrounding yards and gardens; (fn. 8) part of the United Service Club also occupies the site of the first home of the Royal Academy of Arts (see page 346). At the time of his accession to the throne in 1820 George IV had taken a dislike to Carlton House, despite the great improvement in its northern outlook brought about by the formation of Regent Street. By an Act which received the royal assent on 31 May 1826 the Commissioners of Woods, Forests and Land Revenues were authorized to demolish it and to grant building leases of the site and surrounding gardens. (fn. 9) As early as the summer of 1825 the Commissioners had received requests for leases of the site. (fn. 10) The Athenaeum applied in December 1825, followed by the United Service Club in February 1826, and the position of both the proposed club-houses appears to have been settled by June 1826. Nash's plan for the layout of the rest of the area, which is in the parish of St. Martin in the Fields, was not approved by the Treasury until January 1827, and was subsequently modified. (fn. 11)

The first club-house built by the United Service Club stood at the north-east corner of Charles Street (now Charles II Street) and Regent Street on the site now occupied by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority; it was designed by (Sir) Robert Smirke and erected in 1817–19 (see page 289). By 1825 this first house had proved too small for the needs of the members, and the demolition of Carlton House presented the club with an opportunity to acquire a new site for the erection of a larger building.

At an extraordinary general meeting of the club held on 28 February 1826 the committee of management was authorized to procure a lease of part of the site of Carlton House, to sell the house in Charles Street, and to raise up to £13,000 to pay for the erection of a new house. The building committee which was to be appointed was instructed to submit its plans and contracts to the committee of management, and 'are not again to be interfered with'. (fn. 12)

The members of the building committee were Thomas Philip Weddell, Lord Grantham (1781–1859), later second Earl de Grey, who was chairman of the club in 1824,1828 and 1856–7, (fn. 13) First Lord of the Admiralty 1834–5, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland 1841–4 and first President of the Institute of British Architects 1834–59; Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm (1768–1838), commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean 1828–31; Lieutenant-Colonel (later General) Sir Edward Kerrison (1774–1853), a Tory member of Parliament 1812–52; Vice-Admiral Sir William Johnstone Hope (1766–1831), member of Parliament 1800–30 and a member of the Board of Admiralty 1820–8; Colonel (later Major-General Sir) Alexander Caldwell (1763–1839), an artillery officer; Rear-Admiral (later Admiral of the Fleet) Sir Charles Ogle (1775–1858), commander-in-chief in North America 1827–30; Lieutenant-Colonel (later Sir) Charles Rowan (? 1782–1852), who fought at Corunna, Salamanca and Waterloo and in 1829 became the first Chief Commissioner of the metropolitan police; Major-General Samuel Brown, Colonel Ellecombe and LieutenantColonel Grant of the Grenadier Guards. (fn. 14)

The Athenaeum came into existence largely through the energy and vision of John Wilson Croker who in December 1823 sent out a prospectus describing his proposal 'to establish a Club for scientific and literary men and Artists, on the principles which have been so successful in the United Service, the Union, and other clubs lately instituted'. (fn. 15) The first meeting of the committee was held in the rooms of the Royal Society on 16 February 1824, and shortly afterwards a temporary home for the club was found at No. 12 Waterloo Place. In April Decimus Burton was appointed architect (fn. 16) and on 20 July a building committee was formed. (fn. 17)

The eight members of the building committee of the Athenaeum were the three trustees of the club, Sir Humphry Davy (1778–1829), President of the Royal Society, George Hamilton-Gordon, fourth Earl of Aberdeen (1784–1860), President of the Society of Antiquaries 1812–46 and Prime Minister 1852–5, and Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769–1830), President of the Royal Academy; and also John Wilson Croker (1780–1857), member of Parliament and essayist, who was secretary of the Admiralty for twenty-two years, Richard Heber (1773–1833), book-collector and member of Parliament for Oxford University 1821–6, Charles Hatchett (? 1765–1847), chemist and Fellow of the Royal Society, Joseph Jekyll (? 1753–1837), King's Counsel, Fellow of the Royal Society and member of Parliament 1787–1816, and (Sir) Robert Smirke (1781–1867), architect of the British Museum. (fn. 18)

The first site to be considered for the club's permanent home was on the north side of Pall Mall East, but Burton's plans, which included a projection of nine or ten feet over the building line, were rejected by the New Street Commissioners and in December 1824 this site was abandoned. (fn. 19) The Commissioners of Woods and Forests then offered a site on the east side of Union (now Trafalgar) Square, and in March 1825 Burton's preliminary plans for a club-house there were approved by the committee. (fn. 20) In December 1825 the secretary of the club wrote to inform the New Street Commissioners that the Athenaeum would prefer ground on the site of Carlton House, then about to be demolished, (fn. 21) and no more was done about the site in Union Square.

The design and erection of the club-houses

On 14 February 1826 Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm wrote on behalf of the United Service Club to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to ask for a lease of part of the site of Carlton House; he was informed that his application would be considered when the ground was ready for disposal. (fn. 22) On 7 March 1826 John Nash was appointed architect for the new United Service club-house. (fn. 23) From the club's point of view this seemed a wise choice. As architect to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, Nash was responsible for the design of the layout of the site of Carlton House, and in obtaining the Commissioners' approval for the elevation of the new clubhouse, he must have possessed far more influence than any other architect. In the event Nash seems characteristically to have overrated his powers of persuasion with the Commissioners, and the ensuing confusion in the achievement of some degree of uniformity between the elevations of the United Service Club and the Athenaeum is largely attributable to Nash's bad manners and to his anomalous dual position.

The club's first intention seems to have been to construct a rectangular building with a frontage of 110 feet to Pall Mall, and the preliminary elevations were agreed upon by Nash and the building committee of the club; it is almost certain that the entrance was to be on the north front. But in June 1826 the committee applied to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests for an extra piece of ground on the south end of the east side, and without any frontage to Pall Mall, for the erection of a kitchen and domestic offices. This request was granted, Nash insisting that the elevation of the western half of this extension should be uniform with the design of the rest of the southern façade. (fn. 24)

In June 1826 The Sunday Times reported that George IV had presented the portico and staircase at Carlton House to the United Service Club 'to form part of their new house on the site of the palace'. (fn. 25) (fn. 2) The columns of the portico were in fact subsequently used by William Wilkins at the National Gallery, (fn. 26) but the gift of the staircase of Carlton House probably accounts for the curious arrangement of the grand staircase of the clubhouse at right-angles to the main entrance from Pall Mall. Speaking in 1857 Earl de Grey (formerly Lord Grantham) said that the exterior design of the club-house was left entirely to Nash, but as chairman of the building committee, he 'had differed with Mr. Nash as to the effect of the staircase proposed by him, and, with the greatest good temper and equanimity Mr. Nash adopted the suggestion which he had ventured to make'. (fn. 27) These remarks may well mean that Lord Grantham objected to the use of the Carlton House staircase as shown in Nash's first known plans (fn. 3) (Plate 70), and that in consequence Nash designed the present staircase (Plates 73c, 74) to take its place, building work having already proceeded too far for any alteration to be made in the shape of the staircase well.

On 20 May 1826 the secretary of the Athenaeum wrote to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests asking for a lease of the site on which the club-house was later erected. (fn. 28) This application was favourably received (fn. 29) and on 19 June Nash, as the Commissioners' architect, wrote to the club to inform them that the elevations of the east and north fronts of their proposed building 'must correspond with the West Front and North Front of the United Service Club'. This condition was accepted, and on 20 June the secretary of the Athenaeum informed the Commissioners that 'the Committee of the Athenaeum hope to be consulted as to the design which they observe from Mr. Nash's Letter is to be common to their building and to that of the other Institution'. (fn. 30) Decimus Burton, who had been appointed architect to the Athenaeum in 1824, was instructed 'to make sketches of a design and estimates for the kind of building which may be erected on the ground proposed, communicating as far as may be necessary with Mr. Nash and the Commissioners of Woods and Forests'. (fn. 31)

A week later the Athenaeum received a letter from Nash which stated 'that the designs for the United Service Club having been long since settled, no alteration can be made in those designs and that the peculiarity of the situation requires that an uniformity of elevation should prevail between the two buildings'. (fn. 32) This statement was untrue, for the plans for the United Service clubhouse were not submitted to either the Commissioners or the club's own committee of management until October. (fn. 33) The committee of the Athenaeum did not, of course, know this, and merely wrote to the Commissioners asking them to direct Nash to supply them with copies of the north and west elevations of the United Service club-house. (fn. 30)

On 22 August 1826 the secretary of the Athenaeum sent Burton's sketches for the proposed club-house to the Commissioners with a covering letter which stated that his committee offered them 'as a project of the general character both of elevation and distribution which they think most likely to suit the convenience of the Club and the real circumstances of the Ground'. (fn. 34) On 3 October he wrote again to ask for copies of the elevation of the United Service club-house, his committee having heard that the exterior design had 'been definitely settled and if so the Committee are willing to hope that they may be favoured with a Copy of it. . . .' (fn. 30)

On 13 October Lord Grantham, chairman of the building committee of the United Service Club, submitted plans and elevations for the approval of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests—three and a half months after Nash had informed the Athenaeum that they were unalterably settled. (fn. 24) Four days later the committee of management of the club approved the plans and authorized the building committee to enter into a building contract for £31,490 with George Harrison of 47 Ebury Street, a builder who was 'strongly recommended by Mr. Nash'. (fn. 35) The design had not yet been approved by the Commissioners.

On 18 October the Commissioners sent a copy of the United Service Club's plans and elevations to the Athenaeum and invited the comments of the latter. Six days later the committee of the Athenaeum replied, stating that there seemed 'to be an inconsistency between these designs and the notification given to them [the committee] that the Elevations of the United Service Club and Athenaeum were to be uniform'. The design for the United Service Club provided for the principal façade (and presumably the entrance) to be in Pall Mall; but the length of that club's frontage to Pall Mall was 110 feet, whereas that of the Athenaeum was only 75 feet. But 'as the frontage of both Clubs towards Waterloo Place is the same viz. about 105 feet it seems natural that the principal Façades should be placed where they will constitute distinct and perfect elevations complete in themselves and unconnected with any adjoining edifices'. (fn. 36)

On 25 November the Commissioners wrote to the United Service Club and to the Athenaeum accepting the point that owing to the difference in length of the two north fronts 'the Elevations of the two Buildings in the Northern and Southern fronts cannot be made to correspond, but that the Commissioners must require that they should be of the same Style of Architecture; and are of Opinion that a Style of which the Plainness would render the inevitable difference in the extent of the frontage the least observable, would be preferable; also that the two Buildings should be uniform as to the size and situation of Doors Windows etc. etc.' It was 'indispensably necessary' that the west and east fronts 'should be made to correspond in every respect, and that these two fronts should therefore be the principal Façades of the respective Edifices'. They went on to suggest that as these instructions would necessitate some alteration in the plans of both buildings the two architects and representatives from the building committees of both clubs should confer with the Commissioners. (fn. 37)

This suggestion placed the United Service Club in an awkward position, for their building contract had already been 'entered into under the direction of Mr. Nash . . . [and] the Committee were not prepared for the objections now stated'. (fn. 24) The committee nevertheless had no option but to comply, and on 7 December a memorandum of agreement was signed by Lord Farnborough (fn. 4) and John Wilson Croker on behalf of the Athenaeum and by Major-General Samuel Brown, Colonel Alexander Caldwell and Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Rowan on behalf of the United Service Club. By this agreement the Athenaeum undertook to adopt the design of the west front of the United Service Club for their entrance or east front, subject to three modifications: firstly, that the entrance to the Athenaeum should be in the centre of this east front; secondly, that the height of the upper storey should be increased by eighteen inches if Decimus Burton should consider such an increase necessary; and thirdly, that there should be a balcony to each of the windows of the principal floor of the three fronts, but whether the balcony should be continuous or separate, and what material should be used, was left for further consideration. The modifications to which the representatives of the United Service Club agreed were ambiguously worded in the agreement, (fn. 30) but there was no ambiguity in the Commissioners' letter of 14 December to Lord Grantham. By this letter the Commissioners approved the club's proposed designs subject to the omission of the upper portico on the north front and of the portico on the south front, and to the provision of 'a continuous Balcony to each of the principal floors in each of the three fronts, according to Designs to be previously approved by the said Commissioners'. They also suggested that the lower windows of the club 'might be heightened with great advantage', and that this point might be settled by Nash and Burton. (fn. 38)

Neither Nash nor the building committee of the United Service Club made any attempt to comply with these modifications, and the clubhouse was built with an upper portico on the north front, a portico on the south front, and without a continuous balcony (Plates 68, 72).

On 14 December the committee of the Athenaeum accepted the 'stipulations contained in the agreement of 7 December and instructed Burton to prepare fresh plans. (fn. 30) A few days later they received a letter from the Commissioners informing them inter alia that there must be a continuous balcony, to be of either stone or of iron painted to imitate stone. (fn. 39) In January 1827 a new building committee was formed, consisting of Lord Farnborough, John Wilson Croker, Viscount Lowther (1787–1872), later second Earl of Lonsdale, a Tory member of Parliament 1803–41 and Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests 1828–30, W. R. Hamilton (1777–1859), antiquary and diplomatist, who as secretary to Lord Elgin had superintended the removal to England of the Elgin marbles in 1802, and Thomas Murdoch. (fn. 40)

Meanwhile the building committee of the United Service Club had considered the modifications required by the Commissioners in their letter of 14 December 1826. On 4 January 1827 the secretary wrote protesting against the inclusion of the continuous balcony—'our Architect is of opinion that the adoption of the same would not only cause . . . a very serious increase of expence, but would also entail a great sacrifice of Architectural beauty'—and expressing the hope that the south portico might be retained and the continuous balcony omitted; he specifically accepted the omission of the upper portico on the north front. To this letter the Commissioners replied on 10 January, stating that they 'were of opinion that the question whether there should be a continuous Balcony all round the building, or not, would be best adjusted by conference between the respective Architects of the Clubs'. This letter was referred to Nash, the committee expressing the wish that the balcony should be omitted if possible. (fn. 24)

On 9 February the Athenaeum received the Commissioners' approval of Burton's new plans 'and in order that the details with respect to Balconies, Dressings of Windows etc. may correspond with the elevations' of the United Service Club, the Commissioners suggested 'that the Architect of each Establishment should from time to time communicate with the other upon these points'. (fn. 41)

Burton immediately wrote to Nash to arrange such a consultation. On 9 March he received a reply from H. J. Browne, one of Nash's assistants, stating that the committee of the United Service Club had 'abandoned the intention' of erecting a continuous balcony, and 'the Designs as originally estimated from, copies of which were furnished to you some time since, are to be strictly adhered to'. The secretary of the Athenaeum wrote at once to the Commissioners expressing astonishment that their decision should have been thus set aside (fn. 30) and on 20 March the Commissioners wrote to Lord Grantham insisting once more on the provision of the continuous balcony. (fn. 42) Lord Grantham, on behalf of the building committee of the United Service Club, replied that Nash had 'reported to us that the conference' suggested by the Commissioners in their letter of 10 January 'had taken place and that the omission of the Balcony was acquiesced in by the other architect'. (fn. 24) This second quite untrue statement by Nash was at the time accepted by the Commissioners at its face value, but they subsequently recorded their conviction that Burton had not acquiesced in the omission of the balcony. (fn. 43)

In the spring of 1827 the erection of the United Service club-house proceeded rapidly, and in April the offer of the newly formed Junior United Service Club to purchase the club-house in Charles Street for £15,000 was accepted; possession was to be granted on 15 June 1828. (fn. 44) Construction of the new house for the Athenaeum was delayed by difficulties in obtaining possession of the site, and eventually two sitting tenants had to be bought out at a cost of £1500. (fn. 45) Building seems to have begun in the spring of 1828, (fn. 46) the contractors being Joseph Bennett and James Hunt of Horseferry Road, whose tender was for £26,715. (fn. 47)

By January 1828 work for the United Service Club had proceeded far enough for members of the Athenaeum to be able to see from their temporary quarters at No. 12 Waterloo Place that there was no provision for a continuous balcony, and the secretary therefore wrote to ask the Commissioners to take steps to produce the necessary uniformity, the Athenaeum having already at great expense prepared the materials for their balcony. (fn. 30) In response to the Commissioners' request for an explanation (fn. 48) Nash stated that he had never been consulted by the Commissioners on any of the alterations in his original plans for the United Service Club and that he had never received any official letter on the subject. (fn. 24) In an undated private letter to the secretary of the Commissioners he repeated his false assertion that 'Browne and Burton had a conference on the subject of the Balcony, when Mr. Burton acceded to the better taste of the omission' and asserted that minor differences were desirable, 'so persuaded am I of the bad effect . . . of an attempt of perfect uniformity between the details of each building'. (fn. 30)

On 18 February 1828 the Commissioners replied to the secretary of the Athenaeum stating that work at the United Service Club had proceeded so far that the inclusion of a continuous balcony there would be impracticable without considerable extra expense, and asking the building committee of the Athenaeum to consider the omission of their balcony. (fn. 49) On 4 March the secretary of the Athenaeum replied in surprisingly moderate terms. His committee observed that an upper portico was in course of erection on the north front and a portico on the south front of the United Service Club 'in direct contravention of the express directions of the Commissioners explicitly given on these very points'; he went on to complain that 'what is now doing in the United Service Club is precisely and identically what the Architect of that Club originally proposed, and in direct defiance of the agreement between the two Clubs'. The committee of the Athenaeum would nevertheless overlook these deviations, which 'must tend to throw a shade of inferiority' over their own building, but their plans and contract 'oblige them to have a Balcony', and the utmost that they would undertake was the substitution of an inconspicuous iron railing in place of the stone parapet and balustrade hitherto proposed. (fn. 50)

In June 1828 the secretary of the Athenaeum complained of further minor deviations at the United Service Club, (fn. 30) and Lord Grantham was asked to correct them. (fn. 51) Shortly afterwards he was informed 'that until the Commissioners shall have come to a decision on the whole subject, no works connected with any of the deviations may be proceeded with'. (fn. 52)

In two letters addressed to the Commissioners on 5 and 16 July 1828 Lord Grantham did his best to gloss over the inexcusable behaviour of Nash and (to a lesser degree) of the building committee of the United Service Club, and he repeated the assertion that Burton had agreed to the omission of the continuous balcony. (fn. 24) Burton categorically denied this, and he informed the Commissioners that 'under the unpleasant circumstances of conflicting statements, it is very satisfactory to me to be able to support my assertion by undeniable facts' which he proceeded to do to the complete satisfaction of the Commissioners. (fn. 53) Finally on 21 July the Commissioners informed Lord Grantham that as the deviations could not now be corrected without considerable expense and delay, they felt reluctant 'now to require an alteration of the Plan which the Committee of the United Service Club no doubt considered themselves sanctioned by the approval of their Architect who considering his public relation with this Board ought of all persons to have been the most careful to prevent any deviation from the Plan originally agreed upon and approved by the Commissioners'. They therefore permitted the building to be completed and released the Athenaeum from the agreement of 7 December 1826. (fn. 43) The secretary of the Athenaeum was informed of this decision, the Commissioners expressing their 'regret that the Athenaeum had had so much cause of complaint' and expressing their thanks for the 'conciliatory and accommodating' attitude of the club. (fn. 44)

The dispute now ended had one most happy result. The committee of the Athenaeum felt that the upper portico on the north front of the United Service Club tended 'to throw an air of inferiority over the Athenaeum, which they think may be in some degree corrected by giving a bolder proportion and more ornamental Character to the Cornice and Frieze'. On 25 July the secretary of the club wrote to the Commissioners asking for permission (which was granted on the very next day) to erect the frieze which was to become the most famous and most gracious architectural feature of the building. 'The Cornice they would wish to adopt is one proportioned to the size and character of their Building, and for their Frieze they would wish to adopt a compleat Fac simile of the Panathenaic procession which formed the Frieze of the Parthenon. The incomparable Beauty of this specimen of Athenian Art induces the Committee to make a great sacrifice in point of expence in order to place it in a situation so conspicuous and at nearly the same height as that at which it was placed in the Building from which it was taken.' (fn. 55) It may reasonably be supposed that W. R. Hamilton, who was a member of the building committee and had in 1802 superintended the removal of the Elgin marbles to England, had an important share in this choice. John Henning the younger, of 2 Somers Place West, New Road, contracted to execute the frieze in Bath stone from the Elgin marbles in the British Museum for £1300. (fn. 56) The frieze was probably the joint work of John Henning the elder and his two sons, John and Samuel. (fn. 57)

The United Service club-house was opened for members' use on 18 November 1828. (fn. 58) The original estimate for building and furnishing the house was £38,290; the actual cost seems to have been about £43,700. (fn. 59)

The iron railing finally erected on the principal floor of the Athenaeum (Plates 69, 79) was a reversion to the original design which Burton had proposed before the agreement of 7 December 1826. (fn. 30) After the release of the club from this agreement in July 1828, the committee decided to increase the size and dressings of the windows (fn. 60) and at the annual general meeting of 11 May 1829 it was decided 'to leave to the discretion of the Committee the propriety of erecting a more spacious portico'. (fn. 61) A more elaborate portico than had previously been proposed was evidently erected at an extra cost of £1000; (fn. 62) the statue of Athene was the work of Edward Hodges Baily, R.A., and was erected in 1830. (fn. 57) The club-house was first occupied by members on 8 February 1830; (fn. 63) its total cost including furniture and architect's commission was £43,101. (fn. 64) At the end of the same month the building committee decided to retain the cast of the Belvedere Apollo which had been temporarily placed for their approval in the recess on the principal staircase; it has remained there ever since, the personal gift to the club of Decimus Burton. (fn. 65)

Later history of the United Service Club

Nash's United Service club-house has never evoked the same degree of admiration as Burton's Athenaeum. In 1844 The Builder described the exterior as insipid, and the interior as cold, dull and monotonous. (fn. 66) At the annual general meeting of 1834 it was decided to have plans prepared by H. J. Browne, 'late in the employ of Mr. Nash', for the removal of the entrance from Pall Mall to Waterloo Place, but the proposal proved impracticable. (fn. 67) In 1842 this suggestion was again put forward with the same result. In that year Decimus Burton, who had become consulting architect to the club, superintended general repairs estimated at over £6000, which included reinstatement of 'the Turret over the Grand Stairs, the Ceiling having dropped in the centre about 3½ inches owing to the defective construction of the main timbers of the Roof'. (fn. 68) In 1844 the ends of the entrance portico were enclosed with plate glass 'as at the Athenaeum Club'. (fn. 69)

In 1858 the club purchased the adjoining house on the east side, No. 117 Pall Mall, and Burton submitted plans for the extension, embellishment and general repair of the club-house. These provided for the erection on the site of No. 117 of a new dining-room, with smoking- and billiardrooms on the first floor, and for the enlargement of the entrance hall by the removal of the two small rooms on either side and the substitution of a small space for the porter. The morning-room on the west side was to be enlarged by the removal of the partition (fn. 5) separating it from the old dining-room, and the deal doors to all the principal rooms were to be replaced by mahogany. Alterations to the exterior included the removal of the portico on the west front, the enlargement of the main cornice and of the balustrade, and the addition of a bold frieze; the figures in the pediment on the Pall Mall front were added at the suggestion of James Pennethorne, architect to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. All the window dressings and the rustication of the ground floor were enriched, the columns of the upper portico were fluted, and the iron area railings were replaced by a stone balustrade. The defective exterior stucco was replaced by Portland cement. (fn. 70)

All these alterations were carried out in 1858–1859, Messrs. Cubitt being the contractors; the total cost exclusive of the purchase of No. 117 Pall Mall was probably £18,060. (fn. 71) Apart from the later addition of the attic storey, the exterior of the main body of the club-house today is almost exactly as Burton left it (Plate 72).

In 1886 the room on the east side of the entrance hall was joined to the dining-room erected in 1858–9 on the site of No. 117 Pall Mall, and a second pair of columns was set up there. (fn. 72)

In 1912 the two houses on the east side of the club-house were purchased and rebuilt, about forty bedrooms being provided. The old coffee-room, which occupied the whole of the south side of the main building, was converted into a smokin-groom. The total cost of these extensive alterations and additions was £70,000; the work was completed in March 1913, (fn. 73) the architects being Messrs. Thompson and Walford.

In 1929–30 the mansard roof was reconstructed to provide squash courts and additional bedrooms. The architects were Messrs. Thompson and Walford. (fn. 74)

Architectural description of the United Service Club

Nash's first known plans for the club-house (Plate 70) show a building fronting 110 feet to Pall Mall, 100 feet to Waterloo Place, and 166 feet to Carlton House Terrace, in form roughly a square with a south-east extension, 52 feet deep. The entrance on the Pall Mall front is in the centre of a hexastyle portico, this possibly being an intended re-use of the Carlton House portico. An entrance hall, 26 feet wide and 21 feet deep, is flanked by a waiting-room (left) and a porter's room (right) and opposite the doorway is a columned screen of three bays opening to a transverse corridor. At its east end is a door to a diningroom, 35 feet long and 25 feet wide, with two windows overlooking Pall Mall. A corresponding door at the west end of the corridor leads to the morning-room, 44 feet long and 28 feet wide, with two windows to Pall Mall and three to Waterloo Place. At its south end a two-leaf door opens into another dining-room, 28 feet by 20 feet, with two windows to Waterloo Place. The core of the plan is the staircase hall with the stair rising on an east-west axis. The approach by way of a small ante off the east end of the entrance hall corridor is a curiously twisted arrangement which can probably be accounted for by the original intention to use, in the new club-house, Holland's ovoid staircase from Carlton House. (fn. 6) Another small ante, at the south end of the staircase hall, leads to a short east-west corridor with two doors opening to the coffee-room, 99 feet long and 30 feet wide, with six windows to Carlton House Terrace and two to Waterloo Place, its great length divided by widely intercolumniated screens into three bays, an oblong between two squares. The eastern extension contains the kitchen, scullery, larder and servants' coffee-room.

The first-floor layout (Plate 70a) is simple and spacious, with the Carlton House staircase rising in the middle of a splendid hall, 39 feet by 49 feet, with two doorways in each wall. Those on the south open to the library, the same size as the coffee-room below. On the east are the map-room and the card-room, corresponding, respectively, to the dining-room and morning-room below. On the north is the reading-room, 39 feet by 16 feet, and on the west is the billiard-room, 25 feet by 28 feet. Behind this last are lavatories, a service staircase, etc.

Nash's plans appear to have been carried out with only one major deviation—the change affecting the staircase. Lord Grantham's differences with Nash over this matter (see page 387) may have meant that Nash, with his customary good nature, gave up the idea of using the Carlton House staircase for which his plan had been contrived. No doubt the well had already been formed, and it was too late for him to change the axis of the stairs. A plan by William Burn of the ground storey (Plate 71b) appears to show the building as finished by Nash, but has the staircase rising round three sides of the ground-storey well; there is no other evidence to suggest that the stair was built in this way. Burn's plan shows the porticoes, each of three bays between paired columns, projecting centrally from the north, west and south fronts, that on the west (Waterloo Place) front having, presumably, been added to balance that of the Athenaeum.

A ground-storey plan by Burton, (fn. 75) dated 26 June 1858, shows his proposals for altering the building. The hall is enlarged by taking in the porter's room and waiting-room, and a small draughtlobby and porter's box of wood and glass are introduced. The south wall between the morningroom and the west dining-room is removed, and a new dining-room is provided in an annexe built on to the east side of the Pall Mall front, the old east dining-room becoming a writing-room. At present, this last forms part of a large coffee-room, occupying the ground storey of the extension built in 1912 (see page 392), and the coffee-room overlooking Carlton House Terrace is now a smokin-groom.


In accordance with the general policy of the Commissioners, relating to buildings in or connected with the New Street, both Nash's and Burton's club-houses were finished with cement or mastic stucco frescoed to imitate Bath stone. As to the design of their buildings, it seems obvious that while both architects recognized the need for a general uniformity, they probably chafed at the idea of two more or less identical buildings, as required by the Commissioners. In the event, both favoured the Graeco-Roman style, but Nash inclined to Rome and Burton to Greece. Here it may be remarked that the United Service Club has never received one-half of the admiration lavished on the Athenaeum, yet it is a comely building and was even better before Burton 'improved' it.

There are two well-defined and lofty storeys, the lower Doric and the upper Corinthian (Plates 68, 71a, 72). The Waterloo Place elevation has seven widely spaced windows in each storey, and so has the Carlton Gardens front. The entrance front to Pall Mall is divided into three parts, either side having two windows in each storey. The middle part projects and is fronted with a twostoreyed portico of three bays, with paired columns of the appropriate order, fluted Doric below and Corinthian (originally unfluted) above, this stage being finished with a triangular pediment. In 1858–9 its plain tympanum was filled with sculpture, under Burton's direction and at Pennethorne's suggestion. Originally, the groundstorey windows were placed, without dressings or voussoir-joints, in a horizontally V-jointed face, but Burton gave them moulded and eared architraves, centred lion masks over them, and framed them in segmental-arched recesses, with scrolled keystones and arris-beads of laurel leaves. He also added vertical joints to the coursed face, which Nash had finished with an entablature having triglyphs and mutules. The upper storey has a plain face, originally marked with joints to simulate masonry. A pedestal-course links the blind balustrades below the windows, each of which is dressed with a moulded architrave, flanked by pilaster-strips and consoles supporting a triangular pediment. Burton made only one substantial change to this storey by substituting a rich Italianate frieze of scrolls and cartouches for Nash's Corinthian architrave and plain frieze. The dentilled and modillioned cornice is Nash's and so, probably, is the crowning balustrade. The Carlton House Terrace front retains its Doric portico of three bays, but that on the Waterloo Place front was removed in 1858–9, Burton and the Commissioners agreeing that its retention 'for the purpose of uniformity is not very material'. (fn. 76) Burton also removed the crown glass and sash bars from Nash's windows, replacing them with large sheets of plate glass, and he effected at least one improvement by substituting, for Nash's meagre iron railing, an area balustrade of stone with a cast-iron cornice, on which standard lamps and gas-flambeaux are mounted at appropriate intervals.

In designing the elevation of the projecting bay, added in 1858–9 at the east end of the Pall Mall front, Burton departed from Nash by omitting the Doric entablature from the ground storey, and substituting for Nash's Corinthian entablature a bracketed one of Italianate character. Moreover, he gave his first-floor window a segmental pediment. When, however, this bay was absorbed into the large extension built in 1912, the upper storey was designed to accord fully with that of the main building (Plate 72). The mansard roof, reconstructed in 1929–30, is of slate with ornamental dressings and acroters of lead.


The doorway, in the middle bay of the Pall Mall portico, opens through a glass and mahogany draught-lobby into the oblong entrance hall (Plate 73b). The long side opposite the doorway is formed as a screen of five bays, raised two steps above the hall-floor level, and beyond it is an ante or corridor. Each end bay of the screen contains a round-arched opening, with a fret band-architrave and impost, the latter being continued round the side and end wall faces of the hall and corridor. The middle three bays are divided by two Ionic columns which, with the respondent antae, have plain shafts of dark green scagliola. The hall is finished with an entablature having a dentilled cornice, and a deep plain cove rises to the plain flat ceiling. On the east end wall of the hall is a large clock-face, set in the space above the impostband, and on the west wall is a wind dial. The wall behind the screen is divided by antae into three bays, the middle one containing a niche in which stands a terminal bust of Wellington, signed by Benedetto Pistrucci.

At each end of the corridor, or ante, is an arched opening, that at the west end leading through a small compartment into the staircase hall, by far the finest internal feature of the building (Plates 73a, 73c, 74). The stone stairway, rising in three easy flights to the first-floor level, begins with a wide central flight, branches left and right, and returns with parallel flights to the spacious landing which surrounds the large oblong well. The stairs and landing are railed in with waisted balusters and newels of cast iron, of RegencyGrecian design, finished with a plain mahogany handrail. The soffits of the stairs are arched and coffered, but the walls of the lower stage are simply treated except for the doorway to the morning-room and the niche at the head of the first flight. In this niche stands the marble statue of the Duke of York and Albany, signed 'Thos. Campbell fecit. Roma 1829'. The walls of the first-floor stage are also plain but for the doorcases, which are symmetrically disposed—one at each end of the south wall and three in the west wall— this arrangement being repeated in the north and east walls. The mahogany doors, each of two leaves with two panels, are framed in architraves and finished with frieze and cornice, the middle doorway on each long side having, in addition, panelled pilaster-strips and consoles supporting a triangular pediment. The walls are now finished with a full entablature, of which the dentilled cornice is probably original, but the Adamesque frieze is a modern addition. The engraving in London Interiors (Plate 74a) shows that the walls were originally finished with a plain cornice resting on paired console-brackets, and that the ceiling cove was patterned with octagonal and diamondshaped coffers. The present arabesque decoration of the cove is at variance with the flat ceiling of the clerestoried lantern-light, which, if modern, has the character of the original work. It is divided by guilloche-ribs into compartments, the small corner squares containing formal flowerand-leaf bosses, and the narrow oblongs between them being plain. The large oblong central compartment is panelled, the central circle containing an anthemion-bordered foliage-boss (replacing a sun-burner) from which hangs the splendid chandelier, with crystal banners radiating from its head.

The most impressive ground-floor room is the smoking-room, formerly the coffee-room, overlooking Carlton House Terrace (Plate 75b). This has the appearance of a suite of three rooms linked by very wide openings in the transverse walls, with widely spaced Ionic columns supporting the entablature-faced beams. These columns have plain shafts of Siena-marbled scagliola (originally red granite), and the entablature is continued on all the wall faces. Cornice-ribs, with fret-moulded soffits, divide each ceiling into panels—a large oblong, or square, bordered by narrow oblongs with small squares in the corners. There is a fireplace in each compartment of the room, that in the middle being below the central window in the south wall, the others being in the north wall. The first has an arched chimneypiece of white marble, probably designed by Burton, and the last have simple chimneypieces of black marble, similar to others in the building. The two doorways to the room are in the middle compartment, flanking a segmental-arched recess which is a later alteration. They are furnished with the mahogany twoleaved doors designed by Burton to replace Nash's cheap deal doors. The wall faces, above the lowpanelled dado, are generally left plain as a ground for pictures.

The morning-room, enlarged by Burton to include the adjoining dining-room, has been restored to its original size. It is simply decorated, the walls having a plain face for pictures over the dado. Above the dentilled cornice rises a plain cove, separated from the flat ceiling by a band of Pompeian scroll ornament. This room has a black marble chimneypiece, similar to those in the smoking-room. The former dining-room on the east side of the hall (now part of the present coffee-room) has an unusual chimneypiece of white marble, Graeco-Egyptian in design with columnar jambs carved with ivy-decked thyrsi.

The library (Plate 75a) is similar in its general form to the smoking-room below it, except that the divisions between the three compartments are less prominent, the columns being more widely spaced and paired with pilasters instead of return walls. The Corinthian order is used here, the column-shafts being of scagliola resembling greygreen granite. The entablature surrounding each compartment has a modillioned cornice, above which a plain cove rises to a guilloche band framing the flat ceiling, plain but for a central ventilator-boss fringed with formal leaves. Each compartment has a fireplace, with a white marble chimneypiece surmounted by a tall framed glass. The Grecian gilt-wood valance poles, resting on consoles, show that the windows were once furnished with elaborate draperies. No provision seems to have been made for fitted bookcases and those that line the walls at dado height are modern.

The luncheon-room (originally the card-room) is simply decorated with a panelled dado, plain wall face finished with a modillioned cornice, and a plain cove surrounding the flat ceiling. The committee-room (originally the reading-room) is similar.

Later history of the Athenaeum

Apart from the addition of the attic storey in 1899–1900 and the erection of the present parapet enclosing the area (1894), the exterior of the Athenaeum has only received alterations of the most trivial nature since the completion of the building in 1830. The interior has naturally been subjected to more important modifications, but changes have only been made after the most careful consideration, and the loving care of successive generations of members, combined with the cautious wisdom of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, has successfully preserved the architectural grace and dignity of the building.

Decimus Burton continued as architect to the club until 1864. (fn. 77) During this period no major alterations were made, although important proposals were considered on several occasions. Lighting, ventilation and library accommodation provided the first problems. In 1831 a gallery was erected in the library (fn. 78) and in 1843 an improved system of gas lighting invented by Michael Faraday was installed there. (fn. 79) In 1856 a new gallery with a spiral staircase was erected in the south library, and the existing gallery was enlarged. (fn. 80) General repairs and redecoration were carried out in 1836, 1845 and 1856. (fn. 81)

In 1853–4 the committee considered a large number of proposals for increasing the accommodation in the club-house, and in his account of the numerous proposals put forward Burton states that he 'received the opinions of several Members of the Club and of the Committee on the mode they thought the house should be altered, of which no two coincided'. On the instructions of the committee Burton made plans which provided inter alia for the enlargement of the morningroom by the erection of a bow window on the Pall Mall front, a proposal which Burton himself regarded as objectionable (fn. 82) and which the Commissioners of Woods and Forests (on the advice of Pennethorne) fortunately refused to sanction. (fn. 83) Burton also made the ingenious suggestion of providing a kitchen under the garden on the south side of the building, 'the smoke and heat from which would be carried over the roof of the house, in an ornamental tower'. (fn. 82) In 1855 the Commissioners approved plans for an additional storey, (fn. 84) but no major alterations appear to have been made in the 1850's, and in 1857 Burton was paid £400 for his largely abortive professional services during the preceding four years. (fn. 85)

In 1863 a sub-committee was appointed to consider what (if any) alterations should be made to the club-house. Its report, which again suggested throwing out a bow window on the north front and the addition of an extra storey, was considered at the annual general meeting of 1864, but no action was taken. (fn. 86) In the same year T. H. Wyatt succeeded Burton as architect, and in 1865 general repairs costing £6670 included the substitution of Portland cement in place of the original stucco on the exterior of the building. (fn. 87)

In 1867 the Commissioners of Woods and Forests approved plans submitted by T. H. Wyatt for the erection of an exceedingly unsightly smoking-room in the roof of the Pall Mall front. (fn. 83) At this time smoking in the club-house was confined to one small attic, and after the appointment in May 1867 of a sub-committee to consider 'how to provide adequately for Smoking in the Club', the annual general meeting of 1868 decided to construct a smoking-room, billiard-room and servants' hall under the garden on the south side. (fn. 88) This extension, which involved the removal of one or two trees and provoked the active opposition of Lord Otho Fitzgerald of No. 8 Carlton House Terrace, was carried out to the design of T. H. Wyatt in 1868–9 at a cost of £4181. (fn. 89)

In 1880 T. H. Wyatt died and was succeeded as architect by Charles Barry, junior. The general repairs of 1883 included a new mosaic pavement in the hall. (fn. 90) At the annual general meetings of 1887 and 1888 plans for an extra storey and for extensive alterations to the main staircase were rejected. Exterior work done in 1894 included marble steps and mosaic pavement in the porch, and the erection of the present stone parapet enclosing the area. (fn. 91)

In 1891 a sub-committee consisting of (Sir) Lawrence Alma-Tadema, R.A., (Sir) Edward Poynter, later President of the Royal Academy, and (Sir) Arthur Lucas, a gas engineer, (fn. 92) was appointed to superintend the redecoration of the entrance hall and grand staircase. (fn. 93) This subcommittee introduced the present coloured marble lining of the lower wall surfaces (fn. 94) and AlmaTadema designed the painted decoration of the hall ceiling. During the next twenty-one years the sub-committee superintended the redecoration of all the principal rooms—the coffee-, morning- and writing-rooms to Poynter's designs in 1892, and all the rooms on the first floor to Alma-Tadema's designs in 1893. In 1904 the hall and staircase, and in 1907 the drawing-room, were repainted with only minor alterations to the previous designs, and in 1910 the morning- and writingrooms were redecorated, Poynter's designs of 1892 being followed with some small additions. (fn. 95) Other artists who are said to have assisted in the decoration of the club are James Fergusson, Lord Leighton. Sir Frank Dicksee and Sir William Llewellyn. (fn. 96)

In 1898 a sub-committee was set up to consider once more the addition of an extra storey. Charles Barry resigned as architect at about this time and T. E. Collcutt was chosen to succeed him. His plans for a recessed attic storey were carried out in 1899–1900 at a cost of £15,427. (fn. 97) The new accommodation included a smoking-room, cardroom and improved staff quarters.

In 1927 the interior of the top storey was remodelled to the design of Sir Aston Webb.

The coffee-room was redecorated to the design of Professor Sir Albert Richardson, President of the Royal Academy, in 1956.

Architectural description of the Athenaeum

The Athenaeum is a smaller building than the United Service Club, and although it has almost the same frontage towards Waterloo Place (105 feet) it fronts only some 75 feet to Pall Mall and Carlton House Terrace. Burton's plan (fn. 7) is simple, but most effective (Plates 76, 77). The ground storey is divided into three almost equal sections by transverse walls. The middle section, fronted by the Waterloo Place portico, contains the hall and staircase, entered through a shallow vestibule flanked by a porter's box and a waiting-room. The hall, which is some 35 feet wide and 30 feet deep (excluding the stair-well), is divided into a 'nave' and 'aisles' by colonnades of three bays. At the west end is the stair-well with the staircase rising in a wide central flight, then branching right and left, and returning with parallel flights against the side walls to finish at the wide first-floor landing. South of the hall and stair-well is the coffee-room, some 30 feet wide and 74 feet long, with five windows to Carlton House Terrace and two to Waterloo Place. North of the hall is the morningroom, some 30 feet square, with two windows in each outside wall. Alongside is a room, about 22 feet by 24 feet, originally designated a diningroom, and between this and the hall is a service stair. West of the dining-room are lavatories and behind the main stair-well is a narrow light area.

The staircase rises to a wide first-floor landing, with two doors in the east wall and one each in the north and south walls. The two east doors open to the drawing-room of three linked compartments, 100 feet long and 30 feet 7 inches wide, with seven windows to Waterloo Place and two in each end wall. Adjoining on the south is a library, about 30 feet wide and 43 feet long, and on the north is a smaller library, originally designated a reading-room, west of which is the committeeroom, intended as a map-room.

The basement is given over to kitchens on the north, butler's and housekeeper's rooms on the south, and wine cellarage under the hall and portico. Staff and servants' rooms are provided in the small mezzanines over the ground- and firstfloor rooms in the north-west angle, and in the mansard garret storey.


In mass and composition, and in finish, the Athenaeum is the counterpart of Nash's United Service Club, but Burton displayed his own taste in the details (Plates 69, 78, 79). Again there are two lofty storeys, each well defined in treatment and finished with an entablature. There are seven windows in the upper storey of the Waterloo Place front, and five in each storey of the fronts to Pall Mall and Carlton House Terrace. The ground storey is rusticated with channel joints, and the windows, which have moulded architraves, are set with plain margins in shallow recesses with voussoired flat arches. The Doric entablature of this storey is ingeniously adapted to carry the firstfloor balcony, each alternate triglyph being a concave-curving bracket supporting the boldly projecting cornice which forms the balcony floor. The railing, with slender Grecian balusters of cast iron, is stopped at each corner by a pedestal bearing a tripod lamp and by the stone balustrade over the entrance portico, in the middle of the Waterloo Place front. This Roman Doric portico is divided into three bays by paired columns, each pair being raised on a plain pedestal with steps between them. The columns have moulded bases, fluted shafts (except for each end column which is square and plain-shafted) and enriched capitals. Originally, the portico had open ends, but by 1841 these had been filled in with windows matching those of the ground storey. The entablature, with triglyphed frieze and mutuled cornice, is surmounted by a pedestal parapet, with open balustrades above each end bay and the returns. The solid die above the middle bay supports the gilt statue of Athene, carved by E. H. Baily, and the dies over the paired columns are adorned with laurel wreaths. The upper storey is mock-jointed to resemble a smooth ashlar face, and the windows, tall and rectangular, are dressed each with a moulded architrave flanked by pilaster-strips with acanthus consoles supporting a cornice. John Henning junior's version of the Panathenaic frieze, carved in Bath stone but now painted in the Wedgwood manner, provides a splendid adornment to this storey, which is finished with an enriched dentilled and modillioned cornice, and surmounted by a balustrade.

After the building was completed there were many proposals to make alterations which would have affected its external appearance. Burton was asked to add a bay window to the Pall Mall front, and in 1855 he suggested raising the crowning cornice and inserting a range of attic windows over the Panathenaic frieze. T. H. Wyatt proposed even more drastic changes, and so did Charles Barry, junior, but fortunately no noticeable alteration was made until 1899–1900 when the recessed attic stage was added, with perfect taste, by T. E. Collcutt. This attic, although containing two storeys on its north side, is quite unobtrusive. Finished in stucco and fully consonant with Burton's work, it has the same number of windows as the second storey of the original building, all finished with moulded and eared architraves. Collcutt originally intended to support the simply moulded entablature with paired Doric pilasters placed between the windows, but fortunately he decided to omit them.


The superiority of Burton's club-house to Nash's is even more evident inside than out. The columned hall (Plate 80), with its subdued daylighting, and the branching staircase beyond, brightly lit from above, provide an impressive approach to the great drawing-room which is one of the finest rooms of its kind in London. Colonnades of three bays, the middle bay being nearly twice as wide as the others, divide the hall into a wide 'nave' and narrow 'aisles'. The columns have moulded bases, plain shafts originally of white marbled scagliola, and 'Tower of the Winds' capitals, each end column being paired with a square pillar. The entablature of each colonnade is returned across the east (entrance) end of the 'nave' and back across the 'aisle' at the staircase end, and whereas the 'nave' has a segmental vault modelled with square coffers, the 'aisles' have flat compartmented ceilings. Centrally placed in each side wall is a niche, framed with a wide architrave and containing a white marble chimneypiece surmounted by a castplaster statue. These casts, which were chosen on the advice of Sir Thomas Lawrence, are of the 'Venus Victrix' (north niche) and the 'Robing Diana' (south niche). Hanging from the panelled soffit of each entablature, one in each bay, are gilt metal lamps of Grecian design, the glass bowl being held in a collar decorated with Athene's owls and suspended by three chains of stiff foliage.

Alma-Tadema's colour treatment of the hall, with glossy golden-yellow columns glowing against putty-lemon walls, would seem to have been nearer in spirit to Burton's original decoration than the present scheme with its sombre black columns. (fn. 98)

Beginning with three curved and wide-spreading curtail steps, the middle flight of the stone staircase rises to a landing, branches right and left to smaller landings, and returns to the gallery landing on the first floor (Plate 81). The mahogany handrail is carried by elegant Grecian 'palm-tree' balusters of cast iron, linked in pairs at their bases and fixed to the sides of the steps, free of the treads. The staircase walls are lined to the first-floor level with slabs of richly figured marble, finished with a moulded architrave and key-fret band in painted plaster. A wide break forward in the middle of the west wall, opposite the gallery landing, forms a plinth for a pseudoportico, distyle in antis, of the Corinthian order, in which stands a gilded plaster cast of the Belvedere Apollo raised on a marbled pedestal. The columns have plain shafts and their capitals are a simplified version of those on the Lysicrates monument. This pseudo-portico dominates the first-floor stage of the stair hall, and the other wall faces are simply divided into panels by raised and enriched mouldings. The Corinthian entablature is carried round all four walls and the flat ceiling is modelled with shallow compartments, surrounding the clerestoried octagonal lantern-light. AlmaTadema designed the hanging lantern, a somewhat Art Nouveau creation with elaborate jewelfaceted panels of glass. (fn. 98)

A doorway on the south side of the entrance hall leads to the coffee-room, a spacious apartment simply decorated (Plate 83a). The wall faces above the pedestal dado are formed into panels, wide alternating with narrow, by a raised and enriched moulding. A rich dentilled cornice surrounds the flat ceiling, which is divided by plain ribs into compartments, squares and oblongs bordering three central circles, each containing an elaborate chandelier rose composed of three rings of radiating leaves. The 'Pompeian' stencilling of Sir Edward Poynter has been replaced by the chaste grey, pale green, white and gold scheme of Sir Albert Richardson, but Burton's sumptuous four-branched lamps of gilded metal still hang from the ceiling roses.

The morning-room, north of the entrance hall, has walls hung with lincrusta in imitation of embossed and gilded Cordova leather, below Burton's very Grecian anthemion-enriched coved cornice. The ceiling has a large circular panel and four small spandrels, the colour decoration being by Poynter.

As is usual in the great early nineteenth-century club-houses, the great length of the drawing-room is divided into three compartments, a square at each end and an oblong in the middle (Plate 82). The division is effected by columns, standing just free of the walls, placed in pairs between the compartments and one in each corner of the room, all with respondent antae. The Corinthian order is used, the columns and antae having plain shafts of Siena-marbled scagliola, and simplified 'Lysicrates' capitals. They support lateral and transverse entablature-beams, having panelled soffits and scroll-modillioned cornices, so that the ceiling of each compartment is surrounded by a full entablature, free of the walls. Each compartment has its fireplace, the middle one central in the west wall, between two doorways, and one in each end wall, between the windows. Each has a white marble chimneypiece of monumental form, with panelled pilasters carrying the lintel between cenotaph-like pedestals decorated with wreaths. Above is a large plate mirror, within a wide plain margin framed by pilasters with panelled shafts and capitals based on an anta-capital from the temple of Apollo at Miletus. They carry a frieze, enriched with anthemion, and a curious cornice. The great door in each end compartment, and the smaller doors in the middle compartment, are all of two leaves each with three panels and wide moulded rails. The doorcases have moulded architraves, plain friezes and cornices, those of the larger doorcases resting on scroll-consoles. Each compartment has a flat ceiling, a treatment intended by Burton for the end compartments only, as a contrast to the ribbed saucer-dome of oval plan on shallow pendentives with which he finished the middle compartment. This highly decorative feature was, unfortunately, sacrificed to gain floor-space when the upper storeys were added. It remains to record that the walls, where they are not concealed by the later bookcases, are covered with yellow silk damask.

Four of Burton's schemes for decorating the drawing-room are preserved in the club-house. All are delightful and elegant, very much of their period and reminiscent of a Henry Moses engraving. The scheme approved by the committee on 25 June 1829, and presumably carried out, has pale green walls with gilt motifs like vase-subjects over the doors and windows, between which are banquettes placed below tall pier glasses, partly concealed by muslin and purple silk draperies. An alternative scheme has apricot-coloured walls, the doors are white and gold with grisaille panels over them, there are dado-high bookcases of rosewood partly gilt, and the windows are veiled with muslin and dressed with pale claret curtains, elaborately draped.

There is little to say about the south library (Plate 83b), which is furnished and decorated with books, as are all good libraries. These provide a rich background for the spidery elegance of the galleries, in mahogany and brass, and the curved and spiral stair of delicate cast ironwork which leads to them. The ceiling is simply patterned with shallow twice-recessed coffers. The north library is similar, though smaller, and has no staircase within the room.


  • 1. Carlton House and Carlton Gardens have been described in Survey of London, vol. xx, 1940, The Parish of St. Martinin-the-Fields, Part III, pp. 69–87.
  • 2. The Sunday Times states that the King 'presented the portico of the staircase to the United Service Club'. It may safely be assumed that this is a misprint for 'portico and staircase'.
  • 3. These undated plans were reproduced on pages 21–2 of Major-General Sir Louis Jackson's History of the United Service Club. They show the domestic accommodation in the eastern extension of the club, but show no portico on either the south or west sides. They must therefore have been drawn up between June and December 1826.
  • 4. Formerly Sir Charles Long (1761–1838), member of Parliament for most of the period 1789–1826; he had assisted George III and George IV in the decoration of the royal palaces.
  • 5. This partition has subsequently been replaced.
  • 6. Illustrated on Plate of Survey of London, vol. XX, 1940, The Parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Part III.
  • 7. With the exception of some sketches for the decoration of the drawing-room, Burton's original drawings have not survived The earliest surviving set is that made in 1882 by Charles Barry, junior, who was then architect to the club; six drawings from this set are reproduced on Plates , , . The Victoria and Albert Museum possesses two small plans signed by Burton and dated November 1841; in the library of the Royal Institute of British Architects there are two undated plans by William Burn.
  • 8. Humphrey Ward, History of the Athenaeum 1824–1925, 1926, plan facing p. 32.
  • 9. 7 Geo. IV, c. 77, public.
  • 10. P.R.O., LRRO53/67.
  • 11. Sixth Report of the Commissioners of His Majesty's Woods, Forests and Land Revenues, 1829, pp. 12–13, 162.
  • 12. United Service Club committee minutes, 28 Feb. 1826.
  • 13. Major-General Sir Louis C. Jackson, History of the United Service Club, 1937, pp. 125–6.
  • 14. United Service Club committee minutes, 7 March 1826; D.N.B.
  • 15. Ward, op. cit., p. II.
  • 16. Ibid., pp. 13, 21.
  • 17. Athenaeum committee minutes, 20 July 1824.
  • 18. Ibid., loc. cit; D.N.B.
  • 19. Athenaeum committee minutes, 18 Aug., 14 Dec. 1824.
  • 20. Ibid., 14, 28 Dec. 1824, 1 March 1825.
  • 21. Ibid., 5 Dec. 1825.
  • 22. P.R.O., LRRO52/31.
  • 23. United Service Club committee minutes, 7 March 1826.
  • 24. P.R.O., LRRO60/711.
  • 25. The Sunday Times, 11 June 1826.
  • 26. Survey of London, vol. XX, 1940, The Parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Part III, p. 15.
  • 27. The Builder, 23 May 1857, p. 288.
  • 28. Athenaeum committee minutes, 20 May 1826.
  • 29. Athenaeum annual reports, report of 8 May 1826.
  • 30. P.R.O., LRRO60/710.
  • 31. Athenaeum committee minutes, 20 June 1826.
  • 32. Ibid., 27 June 1826.
  • 33. P.R.O., LRRO60/711; LRRO45/6, pp. 193–4; United Service Club committee minutes, 17 Oct. 1826.
  • 34. Athenaeum committee minutes, 22 Aug. 1826.
  • 35. United Service Club committee minutes, 17 Oct. 1826.
  • 36. Athenaeum committee minutes, 24 Oct. 1826.
  • 37. P.R.O., LRRO45/6, pp. 240–1.
  • 38. P.R.O., LRRO45/6, p. 261.
  • 39. Athenaeum committee minutes, 19 Dec. 1826.
  • 40. Ibid., 16 Jan. 1827; D.N.B.
  • 41. P.R.O., LRRO45/7, p. 18.
  • 42. Ibid., LRRO45/7, pp. 73–4.
  • 43. Ibid., LRRO45/9, pp. 91–2.
  • 44. United Service Club committee minutes, 6 Feb., 12 April, 5 June 1827.
  • 45. Ward, op. cit., p. 36.
  • 46. Athenaeum annual reports, report of 12 May 1828.
  • 47. Athenaeum building contract.
  • 48. P.R.O., LRRO45/8, pp. 187–8.
  • 49. Ibid., LRRO45/8, pp. 202–3.
  • 50. Athenaeum committee minutes, 26 Feb. 1828.
  • 51. P.R.O., LRRO45/9, pp. 47–8.
  • 52. Ibid., LRRO45/9, pp. 58–9.
  • 53. Ibid., LRRO60/710; LRRO45/9, pp. 91–2.
  • 54. Ibid., LRRO45/9, pp. 78–9.
  • 55. Ibid., LRRO60/710; LRRO45/9, p. 105.
  • 56. Ward, op. cit., pp. 37–8.
  • 57. Gunnis.
  • 58. United Service Club committee minutes, 11 Nov. 1828.
  • 59. Ibid., 25 March, 1 April 1828.
  • 60. Athenaeum annual reports, report of 11 May 1829.
  • 61. Athenaeum committee minutes, 11 May 1829.
  • 62. P.R.O., LRRO60/710; Athenaeum building box papers, table of extra works and works omitted, 1830; Ward, op. cit., p. 47.
  • 63. Athenaeum annual reports, report of 9 May 1831.
  • 64. Ward, op. cit., p. 47.
  • 65. Athenaeum committee minutes, 2 March 1830.
  • 66. The Builder, 5 Oct. 1844, p. 503.
  • 67. United Service Club committee minutes, 8 May 1834; general meeting minutes, 17 June 1834.
  • 68. Ibid., general meeting minutes, 3, 17 May 1842.
  • 69. Ibid., 21 May 1844; P.R.O., LRRO60/711.
  • 70. United Service Club general meeting minutes, 4 May 1858; C.E.O., file 11338; Jackson (17 above), op. fit., pp. 57–9.
  • 71. United Service Club general meeting minutes, 18 May 1858; committee minutes, 3 Aug. 1858, 9 March 1859.
  • 72. Ibid., committee minutes, 13 July 1886; Jackson (17 above), op. cit., p. 86.
  • 73. Jackson (17 above), op. cit., pp. 116–18.
  • 74. Ibid., pp. 120–1.
  • 75. C.E.O., plan 64/77.
  • 76. Ibid., file 11338.
  • 77. Ward (12 above), op. cit., p. 66.
  • 78. Athenaeum annual reports, report of 9 May 1831.
  • 79. Ibid., report of 8 May 1843.
  • 80. Ibid., report of 9 May 1856.
  • 81. Ibid., passim.
  • 82. Athenaeum. A Letter to the Committee from Mr. Decimus Burton on the subject of Plans for altering the House, 1854.
  • 83. C.E.O., file 10655.
  • 84. Ibid., loc. cit., and plan 63/13.
  • 85. Athenaeum annual reports, 1858.
  • 86. Ibid., 1864.
  • 87. Ibid., 1865, 1866.
  • 88. Ibid., 1868; C.E.O., file 12521.
  • 89. Athenaeum annual reports, 1870; C.E.O., file 12521.
  • 90. Athenaeum annual reports, 1881, 1883, 1884.
  • 91. Ibid., 1887, 1888, 1895;C.E.O., file 12521.
  • 92. D.N.B.; Who was Who 1916–28.
  • 93. Athenaeum annual reports, 1892.
  • 94. Ward (12 above), op. cit., p. 88.
  • 95. Athenaeum annual reports, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1905, 1908, 1911.
  • 96. The Observer, 14 Aug. 1932, quoting the secretary of the club.
  • 97. Athenaeum annual reports, 1899, 1900, 1901; Ward (12 above), op. cit., p. 89.
  • 98. The Architectural Review, July-Dec. 1913, pp. 54–8.
  • 99. D.N.B.