The Oriental Club has an assured place in history. In literature, it has been a reference point throughout the nineteenth and into the twentieth century, with novelists such as William Thackeray and Lytton Strachey referencing the Club, and countless others drawing from its stable of colourful characters. 

Club Founders

The Oriental Club was founded by returning officers and officials from India and the East who had witnessed both wondrous and challenging sights. The Club was a valued haven in a London that must have seemed at once comfortingly familiar and yet so different to the exotic climate and culture that had become their everyday in the East.

Major General Sir John Malcolm coordinated the founding committee in 1824 and advertised a Club that would draw its Members from 'Noblemen and gentlemen associated with the administration of our Eastern empire, or who have travelled or resided in Asia, at St. Helena, in Egypt, at the Cape of Good Hope, the Mauritius, or at Constantinople.'

A Suitable Home

The first home of the Oriental Club was in Grosvenor Street, only a few hundred metres away from its current home. It remained there for four years before moving to a suitable site in Hanover Square where a new Clubhouse was built.

By the 1950s, the Oriental Club was in some difficulty. The post-war Members had no taste for old-fashioned Clubs and the Hanover Square building required massive expenditure beyond the means of the Oriental Club. At first, the Committee considered selling Hanover Square and seeking a more economical home, but then the Chairman, Sir Arthur Bruce and his Committee developed an elaborate plan.

Aynsley Bridgland, another Member of the Club and a property developer, suggested that instead of selling the Hanover Square site and a third party to make it profitable, the Oriental Club should be its own property developer. Thanks to the support of its Members, the existing building was duly demolished to make way for a new office block which was rented out successfully for many years.

Stratford House

The Oriental Club's handsome new home was Stratford House. The building was constructed in the 1770s for Edward Stratford, later the second Earl of Aldborough. Stratford paid £40,000 for the site (formerly occupied by the Lord Mayor of London's Banqueting House) along with the Robert Adam-inspired building.

The House was variously remoulded over the years with new plumbing and a second storey on the east and west wings in the 1890s. However it was in 1908 when Lord Derby bought the lease that the most extensive alterations were set in motion. He purchased additional property in Marylebone Lane, removed the stables and built a Banqueting Hall with a grand ballroom above (the last privately owned ballroom to be built in this country). It was a spectacular room of Italian design which was converted when the house was acquired by the Oriental Club.

When Stratford House was purchased by the Oriental Club in 1960, it was necessary to make certain alterations, as the needs of a Club were different to those of a town house of the aristocracy. The ballroom was converted into two floors of bedrooms, additional lifts were installed and alterations to the Banqueting Hall were made, which is now the Dining Room.

The recent addition of eight new bedrooms continues the Oriental Club's tradition of providing a welcoming and comfortable home-from-home for its Members in the centre of London.

Rich Heritage

The Oriental Club is proud of its rich heritage, some of which is catalogued among the impressive collection of books in the Library, acquired throughout the centuries.  The Oriental Club also has an extensive art collection which brings the history of the Club to life.