The St James's Club was a London gentlemen's club which operated between 1857 and 1978. It was founded by two leading diplomats and its members continued to be largely diplomats and authors. It was first established in Charles Street and moved to 106 Piccadilly by 1868. In the final quarter of the twentieth century many gentlemen’s clubs of London suffered from declining membership, and in 1978 the St James's Club merged with Brooks's Club and vacated its premises.
The club was founded in 1857 by the Liberal statesman the second Earl Granville and by the Marchese d'Azeglio, Minister of Sardinia to the Court of St. James's, after a dispute at the Travellers' Club. Most members of the diplomatic corps resigned from the Travellers' and joined the new club. The club's members continued to be largely diplomats and authors, and it became the home of the Dilettanti Society.
The name St James’s Club had previously been used by William Crockford as the official name of his gambling ‘hell’ in 1823 when he acquired the lease to 50 St James's Street. In the next two years he also acquired the leases to nos. 51-53, and when he pulled these down he transferred the Club to 106 Pall Mall. When the pioneer of photography William Fox Talbot (1800–1877) was elected in 1825 to the St James's Club it was already using the 106 Pall Mall premises, where it remained until late 1826. At about the time part of the Guards Club premises at 49 St James's Street collapsed on 9 November 1826 as a result of the rebuilding of Crockford's Club next door, Crockford evidently moved the Club out of 106 Pall Mall, as the Guards Club was able to move into it within a few weeks, and it remained there until it returned to 49 St James's Street in November 1827. (The Traveller's Club only moved from 49 Pall Mall into 106 after the old building had been pulled down in 1829 and its new premises, designed by Charles Barry, had been completed by July 1832.) Crockford's palatial premises for his St James's Club, taking up the entire site of 50-53 St James's Street, was opened in mid November 1827 and closed on 1 January 1846.
The number of members included in a London club varies from 2200 in the Army and Navy to 475 in the St James's club.
The St James's Club was first established in Charles Street, just off the south corner of Berkeley Square, London. By 1868, it had moved into its clubhouse at 106 Piccadilly which had previously been Coventry House, the London residence of the Earls of Coventry since it had been bought by George Coventry, 6th Earl of Coventry from Sir Hugh Hunlocke in 1764, for 10,000 guineas. Coventry House had been built in 1761 on the site of an old public house called 'The Greyhound Inn'. The five-bay structure is neo-Palladian in style, with alternating pediments on the grand floor windows, over a rusticated ground floor. The Palladian window on the side façade lights a handsome staircase. There are ceilings by Robert Adam in rooms on the piano nobile. Thomas Cundy the Elder effected some remodelling, probably in 1810-11.
St James's Club, 106, Piccadilly, W.—Ordinary members of this club are elected by ballot, but members of the corps diplomatique, of the English diplomatic service, and of the diplomatic establishment of the Foreign Office, may be admitted without ballot, under certain restrictions. The entrance fee is £26 5s.; the subscription £11 11s.; and carefully considered reductions are made in the case of members of the English diplomatic service who are employed abroad. The election is by ballot in committee; "six shall be a quorum, one black ball in nine, if repeated, and two above nine, shall exclude." The club occupies the premises once tenanted by the defunct Coventry House Club, also known as the Coventry Club, which had opened on 1 June 1846  and closed on 25 March 1854.
The club was described by Charles Graves, writing of London clubs in Leather Armchairs (1963), as "the only one in London, or possibly anywhere else in the world, which has a separate room – and a large one at that – devoted solely to backgammon".
The club was also well known as a London venue for chess matches.
End of the club
In the decades fter the Second World War, the popularity of gentlemen's clubs of London gradually fell into decline. Facing financial problems, the club merged with Brooks's Club in 1978 and vacated its premises. The grand former club house at 106, Piccadilly, later became the headquarters of The International House network of language schools, founded by John Haycraft. Since October 2007, it has been the London campus of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, a private intercontinental university based in Malaysia. From September 2017, it will be home to Eaton Square Upper School.
- Granville Leveson-Gower, 2nd Earl Granville (1815–1891), Liberal statesman
- Vittorio Emanuelle Taparelli, Marchese d'Azeglio (1816–1890), Minister of Sardinia
- Sir Osbert Sitwell, 5th Baronet (1892–1969), author
- Sir Sacheverell Sitwell, 6th Baronet (1897–1988), author and brother of Sir Osbert
- Oliver St John Gogarty (1878–1957), Anglo-Irish author
- Sir Harry Verney, 4th Baronet MP (1881–1974), politician
- Victor Hay, 21st Earl of Erroll (1870–1928), diplomat
- Sir Murdoch Macdonald (1866–1957), politician and engineer
- Alfred Clayton Cole (1854–1920) Governor of the Bank of England
- Arthur Rowley, 8th Baron Langford (1870–1953), diplomat
- Major Cav. Lawrence Edward Lotito (1921–2004), business owner, meteorologist
- Anatole de Grunwald (1910–1967), film producer
- Lord Ivor Spencer-Churchill (1898–1956), cousin of Winston Churchill
- Evelyn Waugh (1903–1966), author
- Sir Osbert Lancaster, cartoonist, stage designer and author 
- Harold Soref, politician and businessman
- Graves, Charles, Leather Armchairs: The Chivas Regal Book of London Clubs (London, Cassell & Co. Ltd, 1963, with foreword by P. G. Wodehouse)
- Letter to Fox Talbot from the St James's Club, July 28th, 1825 at foxtalbot.dmu.ac.uk (accessed 10 January 2008)
- Morning Post, 10 November 1826, p. 2.
- See Berkshire Chronicle, 8 February 1828, p. 4 , ‘Chronology of the Principal Events during the Year 1827’ entry for 12 November: ‘About this time Crockford’s new Hell opens’.
- Letter dated 24 December 1845 from R. W. Graham to Thomas Duncombe, in Thomas Slingsby Duncombe, Life & Correspondence, 1868, quoted in A. L. Humphreys, Crockford’s, or The Goddess of Chance in St. James’s Street 1828-1844, London: Hutchinson, 1953, pp. 199-200. ‘It is all over with Crocky’s, and the place is to be closed on the 1st January; and it appears there is no intention to form another club out of it.'
- Encyclopædia Britannica, 10th Edition (1902): article on Club, online at Club at 1902encyclopedia.com (accessed 18 January 2008)
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- The date is on a lead cistern, according to Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, London, vol I (Buildings of England series; 2nd ed., 1962:573).
- Lord Coventry also employed Adam in the country, at his seat of Croome Court, Worcestershire.
- Pevsner, ibid..
- Charles Dickens, Jr., Dickens's Dictionary of London (1879)
- Daily News (London), 22 May 1846, p.4f.
- The Examiner, 18 February 1854, p. 108.
- Life and Times of Ian Fleming at obsessional.co.uk (accessed 10 January 2008)
- Harley, Brian, Music and Chess in Music & Letters, Vol. 12, No. 3 (July, 1931), pp. 276–83
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- Limkokwing University Campuses & Contact Centres Archived 31 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine at limkokwing.co.uk (accessed 10 January 2008)
- Rupert Neate (21 July 2017). "Fit for an oligarch: school for the super-rich opens in London's Mayfair | Education". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
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- MACDONALD, Sir Murdoch in Who Was Who 1897–2006 online (accessed 10 January 2008)
- "COLE, Alfred Clayton", in Herbert Henry Bassett, Men of Note in Finance and Commerce (1901), p. 59
- LANGFORD, Arthur Langford Sholto Rowley, 8th Baron in Who Was Who 1897–2006 online (accessed 10 January 2008)
- de GRUNWALD, Anatole in Who Was Who 1897–2006 online (accessed 10 January 2008)
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