The Club was founded in 1914 and its cardinal objective was “to bind together in one organisation Liverymen of the various Guilds by bonds of common interest in defence of all the citizens hold dear…in service to the ancient Corporation and in the maintenance of the priceless City churches”.
Little has changed since then and membership of the Club is representative of practically all the Livery Companies who still make up the bulk of the membership. Some older members continue to reminisce about the ‘golden days’ when the Club was located at Sion College, but this was in fact only one of many impressive premises the Club has occupied during the course of its history.
The Club’s original meeting place was at De Keyser’s Royal Hotel. Sir Polydore de Keyser was a Belgian waiter who came to London to make his fortune. He built the 400-room hotel in 1874 near Blackfriars on the site of the current Unilever House. The hotel hosted many Guildhall banquets and was the first meeting place of the City Livery Club in 1914. It was demolished in 1931. Having received British nationality, de Keyser became Lord Mayor of London in 1887, the first Catholic to be elected to the office since the Reformation.
After De Keyser’s Royal Hotel, the Club moved to St. Bride Foundation Institute, which was completed in 1894 to the designs of R. C. Murray. This was followed by Williamson’s Hotel in Bow Lane which was occupied by Lord Mayors of London until around 1740. The wrought iron gates at the entrance were a gift from William III who dined with Queen Mary as the Lord Mayor’s guests and are monogrammed with the letters WM, and they can still be seen today.
On 1 January 1927, the Club relocated to the Chapter House in St. Paul’s Churchyard, built to the designs of Wren in 1712-14. This was the Club’s home until 29 December 1940 when, like so many London buildings, it was severely damaged by enemy action. Sadly many of the Club’s records and effects were lost but the Chapter House was eventually rebuilt.
The Club moved to Butchers’ Hall (built 1884-5) in Bartholomew Close. Although that too was badly damaged by enemy bombing on 10 May 1941, the Club continued to occupy the premises until the end of July 1944 when the Hall was again attacked and finally became uninhabitable.
Following many months of anxious search, the Club took up residence in Sion College on Victoria Embankment making this their home for the next 52 years. Many Members regarded this period as the heyday of the Club, and lifelong friendships were forged there.
In 1996 the College disposed of its large Victorian premises. So, in June the Club moved to the Insurance Hall in Aldermanbury and then to the Baltic Exchange in St. Mary Axe (named after the Virginia and Baltick Coffee House) until September 2010.
The Club next moved to Bell Wharf Lane on the River Thames, sharing the facilities of the Little Ship Club. In August 2020 the Club moved to 42 Crutched Friars near Tower Hill sharing the premises with the City University Club.
In January 2023 the Club returned to Bell Wharf Lane where it once again shares the splendid facilities in collaboration with the Little Ship Club.