My latest book Freemasonry and Fraternal Societies looks at how different clubs and societies served different groups of people in the nineteenth century, especially in the United Kingdom where the class divide created a social gulf. The book looks at the industrial areas of England and how societies such as the Oddfellows, Foresters and Druids served these working class communities, and it also examines the Gentlemen’s Clubs that served the upper-classes, both supplying a sense of belonging and bonding to the men that used them.
The book also discusses how some Freemasons were members of various Gentlemen’s Clubs in London during the nineteenth century, some of the clubs being learned societies, others being mere locations of the pursuit of pleasure. At the moment I’m reading about the Clermont Club – a gaming club that operated for gamblers in the late 1960s and the 1970s, whose members included Lord ‘Lucky’ Lucan, businessman James Goldsmith, club owner John Aspinall and artist Dominick Elwes. None of them were Masons, but the science of secrecy that was practiced amongst its members certainly resonated there, especially with the disappearance of Lord Lucan and the suicide of Dominick Elwes. Included here are a few photos of the club on 44 Berkeley Square, originally designed by William Kent in the 1740s.