CHANCELLOR, E Beresford. Memorials of St James's Street together with The Annals of Almack's. Grant Richards, 1922.
8vo., sometime bound by Root in full dark blue crushed morocco, ruled in gilt, spine ruled and lettered in gilt, top edge gilt, rich gilt turn-ins over watered silk endpapers. With 16 illustrations, extra illustrated with 8 colour plates and 44 black and white plates (predominantly portraits). A little rubbing to raised bands on spine otherwise a very good copy.
First edition. A handsomely bound extra-illustrated copy including a hand coloured frontispiece of Pollard's Four in Hand at the Roebuck (rather incongruously as The Roebuck was in Turnham Green).
With a history of the Club Almack's. Almack's Assembly Rooms was a social club in London from 1765 to 1871 and one of the first to admit both men and women. It was one of a limited number of upper class mixed-sex public social venues in the British capital in an era when the most important venues for the hectic social season were the grand houses of the aristocracy. From 1871 it was renamed "Willis's Rooms"
The Assembly Rooms first opened in purposeful rivalry to Mrs. Cornelys' entertainments at Carlisle House; her masquerade balls were becoming notorious. At first it was described as a "female Brook's"—a gambling club to which women were admitted, as well as men. Male members proposed and elected the female members, and women proposed and elected the male members. At this time, like Almack's other establishments, it was meant to make money as what would now be called a casino. It was, like a male club, open any night, and gambling was all that went on, besides a little supper served by Mr. and Mrs. Almack, the latter of whom poured tea while wearing a fashionable sack gown.
In 1770, Horace Walpole wrote of "The Female Coterie", "There is a new Institution that begins to make, and if it proceeds will make, considerable noise. It is a club of both sexes to be erected at Almack's, on the model of that of the men at White's. Mrs Fitzroy, Lady Pembroke, Mrs Meynell, Lady Molyneux, Miss Pelham and Miss Lloyd are the foundresses. I am ashamed to say I am of so young and fashionable society; but as they are people I live with, I choose to be idle rather than morose. I can go to a young supper without forgetting how much sand is run out of the hour-glass.
This first phase of Almack's suffered from competition from The Pantheon or "Winter Ranelagh Gardens" from 1772 until it burned down twenty years later. Play seems to have fallen off, as Almack's entered its second phase some time after 1800.