Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Dinner at the Oriental Club ... and a book to review

I was very busy yesterday, hence the fact that I didn't get around to writing blog entry.

The morning was spent taking my wife to the dentist for a check-up. As she was expecting that the dentist might want to do some work that required her to have a local anaesthetic, I drove her there and back. Luckily, the expected work wasn’t necessary, but it did give me time to sit in my car reading the last chapter of Boris Akunin’s NOT SAYING GOODBYE.

After lunch, Sue and I set off for central London to attend a ‘white table’ dinner. This was being held by the London Lodge of which I am an honorary member – the Blackfriars Lodge No. 3722 – and took place after their meeting. Whilst I attended the meeting – which was held in the Japan Temple in Freemason’s Hall, Great Queen Street – Sue had a chance to catch up on her reading in the building’s first floor Drawing Room.

The meeting ended just after 5.30pm, and by 6.15pm we had made our way – by taxi – to the Oriental Club, Stratford Place, near Oxford Street and Bond Street. The dinner began with a champagne reception, and the food that followed was excellent. The whole event was a great success, and raised over £1,600 for the Worshipful Master’s charity, which helps to train specialist assistance dogs for people who have physical disabilities.

The Oriental Club was set up in 1824 for men who had ‘been resident or employed in the public service of His Majesty, or the East-India Company, in any part of the East – belonging to the Royal Asiatic Society – being officially connected with our Eastern Governments at home or abroad … The British Empire in the East is now so extensive, and the persons connected with it so numerous, that the establishment of an institution where they may meet on a footing of social intercourse, seems particularly desirable. It is the chief object of the Oriental club to promote that intercourse ... (Quote from the April 1824 issue of THE ASIATIC JOURNAL AND MONTHLY MISCELLANY.)

The club’s first (and only) President was the Duke of Wellington, and its membership has included many famous people associated with the Far East in general, and British India in particular … although the original link with the Honourable East India Company declined after the formation of the East India Club in 1849.

During its history, the club has had several homes. When it was founded, it met at 16, Lower Grosvenor Street. In 1828 it moved to a purpose-built clubhouse in Hanover Square, and it remained there until 1961, when it moved to its current location in Stratford House in Stratford Place, just off Oxford Street, London.

Just before lunch yesterday, the postman delivered a book for me to review. It is Frank Jastrzembski’s latest book, entitled ADMIRAL ALBERT HASTINGS MARKHAM: A VICTORIAN TALE OF TRIUMPH, TRAGEDY & EXPLORATION. I reviewed Frank’s VALENTINE BAKER'S HEROIC STAND AT TASHKESSEN 1877: A TARNISHED BRITISH SOLDIER'S GLORIOUS VICTORY back in September 2017, and enjoyed it immensely. I know a little about Admiral Markham’s life, but even a quick flip through the book made me realise that he was much more significant a character than I had previously realised. I’m looking forward to reading this book over the next week or so, and then writing a review of it.


  1. Replies
    1. Steve-the-Wargamer,

      Over the years, I've visited quite a few London clubs (including the Savile, the Royal Overseas League, the Naval and Military, and the Home House) and they all have interesting stories as well as being accommodated in some pretty impressive buildings.

      All the best,


  2. PS. I was reading Wargamers Newsletter issue 175 yesterday where your game report featured and you were also on thew letters page.. :o)

    1. Steve-the-Wargamer,

      I remember writing that. It was my first ever published article ... and I have a copy in my files.

      I've come quite a long way since then ...

      All the best,



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