In 1646, St John's College, which sympathised with the Royalists, acted as Prince Rupert of the Rhine's headquarters for his defence of the city of Oxford, and King Charles I, present in Oxford at the time, is believed to have taken refuge with his nephew at the college for a period of time. A possibly apocryphal story relating to these times is that the King treated Prince Rupert and 11 of his closest lieutenants to an especially opulent meal. The foundation of the Club is predicated upon this incident.
The society is still active, despite being banned from college grounds. "Invitation-only" by nature, the King Charles Club recruits solely from amongst members of St John's College. The club has certain traditions, including the laying of a wreath at Whitehall on the anniversary of the execution of King Charles I.
The dinner traditionally celebrated after this event has in recent years been held at Stringfellows, Covent Garden. Peter Stringfellow was the honorary president until his death in 2018. The incongruity of an ancient dining society meeting in Stringfellows has resulted in popular commentary, including an editorial comment in The Daily Telegraph in February 2001.
The Conservative politician Aidan Burley was president of the club during his time at St Johns. Other present or former members include Canadian Nobel Prize–winning politician Lester Pearson, and author and clergyman Fergus Butler-Gallie.
The Club colours, worn by members on Club apparel, are black, blue, and gold. Members wear a Club tie which is black with stripes of pacific blue edged with gold.
- Taylor, A.J. (1936). "The Royal Visit to Oxford In 1636" (PDF). Oxoniensia.org. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
- Spencer (9th Earl Spencer), Charles (2007). Prince Rupert: The Last Cavalier. London: Phoenix. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-297-84610-9.
- "Honorary President of the King Charles Club Oxford". Stringfellows. Archived from the original on 11 April 2019. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
- Symonds, Richard (1991). "Nursing Mother of the Elect". Oxford and Empire: The Last Lost Cause?. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 278–9. ISBN 9780198203001.
- "Strip club mogul fronts John's drinking soc". The Oxford Student. 27 April 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
- "Drinking the town dry". Cherwell.org. 8 October 2003. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
- "Who's afraid of the big, bad club?". Cherwell. 16 October 2015. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
- "Sign o' the times". The Daily Telegraph. London. 1 February 2001. Archived from the original on 26 May 2019. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
- Nicholas Watt (18 December 2011). "Tory MP who attended Nazi-themed stag party loses ministerial aide post". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
- "U32- King Charles Oxford Dining Club". Charleston: Ben Silver Corporation. Archived from the original on 26 May 2019. Retrieved 26 May 2019.