Eccentrically Charitable Institution
In the early 1960s, Charles Graves (the renowned journalist and writer, son of the actor George Graves) had once pointed out that 'the eccentricity of the Eccentric Club is to be noted primarily in its fantastic generosity to charitable causes'.
Indeed, the Club's name used to be associated with many good deeds. Before the First World War, before moving to the fashionable Ryder Street premises in St James’s, the Club was famous for its open doors, friendly attitude towards strangers and good food - both inside and outside of 21 Shaftesbury Avenue: whilst inside it was for the members and their guests, outdoors there were always queues of the poor awaiting the distribution of food, particularly long - before the Christmas, when the Club members were giving away their famous, 'best in London', free Christmas hampers.
During the First World War, the members of the Eccentric were entertaining the troops on the frontline, raised over £25,000 for the limbless soldiers, regularly visited the wounded soldiers in the hospitals and distributed amongst them food, tobacco and pipes. At the same time, a number of hospitals, hostels and orphanages were built by the Club.
Shortly after the First World War, there was a memorable performance at the White City when over a thousand of war veterans were entertained and comforted by the members of the Club. On average, in the 1920-1940s the Club was spending over £1,000 a year on various charitable needs.
Copyright (c) Malcolm Warrington Ephemera Collection
During the Second World War, further £50,000 were raised to support the victory and many of the Club's members were fighting on the frontline, while back at home the premises in Ryder Street were seriously damaged by the enemy bombs, and a large part of the Club's original archive and library was burnt down...
In the 1940s-1980s, the Club was raising considerable funds for the good causes: restoring the ruined buildings in the post-war London, helping the National Flood Distress Fund in 1947, promoting amateur and professional sports...
In 1965 the Club donated a substantial amount to the Sail Training Association for the building of the schooner Sir Winston Churchill to participate in the Tall Ships Race. In 1970 the Club became a new home to 600 bridge players from the Crockford’s gaming club which was then closed. In 1975 the Eccentric Club members, Joe Davis and Noel Miller-Cheevers, were amongst the founders of the International Snooker League. The Club’s Snooker Room, acknowledged by many as ‘the finest in London’, was later named after Joe Davis. The Eccentric Club Golfing Society was arranging competitions both in Britain and abroad. Members of the Lord’s Taverners Cricket Club had an associate membership of the Eccentric almost from their very formation in 1950. Until mid-1980s, the Club continued participating in many charitable projects.
The revived club aims to honour these traditions. We believe that today, in the times of common globalisation, it is essentially important to support our local and national charities, which far too often remain undervalued and underfunded whilst the larger international organisations' needs seem to take a priority.
Local environmental and historic conservation issues may seem less important than the starving nations elsewhere, but they cannot and should not be ignored - for the sake of our children and our country. Having said that, our club has never withdrawn its support to the charitable causes abroad and responds swiftly to the Red Cross and similar emergency appeals.
We also believe that just like the paintings and sculptures are being returned to the museums and galleries, the history of the Eccentric Club and its many members, recovered and preserved by us, will return to British people and to the mankind a huge chunk of their historic and cultural heritage. For more than two centuries a great number of the most outstanding individuals were related in one way or another to the club, they have promoted its values by enriching the mankind with their thoughts, inventions, creations and acts, but only a handful of them are remembered today, despite a significant role they have played in the past. These ‘eccentrics’ are the missing pieces of the historic and cultural mosaic of our heritage. Neither them, nor one of the most important clubs in British history, such as The Eccentric, should be ever forgotten.
Since 2007, the Committee of the Eccentric Club has been undertaking a painstaking in-depth research into the Club’s history, uncovering many important documents, earlier thought to be lost, helping dozens of individuals and their families to learn more of the past of their ancestors, commemorating the former club members who had spent their lives for the benefit of the public, living by the ‘Nil Nisi Bonum’ motto, and then undeservedly forgotten.
One of the most significant discoveries was the establishment of the connection between the club, founded by Jack Harrison in 1890, and the Eccentric Society, an off-shoot of the Brilliants Club, which existed as long ago as in 1760s, though with a better-documented history from 1780s-1800s.
In the definitions of the Charities Act 2006, the Eccentric Club is presently involved in the advancement of the arts, culture, heritage and amateur sports, we are working to provide the relief to those in need by reason of their youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship and other disadvantages, we also care about the animal welfare, taking seriously the importance of protection of this country’s wildlife and birds (including, the owls, of course!).
Since 2008, we have raised funds and made donations to the following charities and good causes:
- Comic Relief
- Red Cross Typhoon Haiyan Appeal
- BBC Children in Need
- The Barn Owl Trust
- Eagle Heights Wildlife Park
- Hawk Conservancy Trust
- British Wildlife Centre
- Cancer Research UK
- Save the Children
- National Trust
- Help for Heroes
- Combat Stress (Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society)
- The Rotary Club Campaign ‘End Polio Now!’
- The Pushkin House Russian Cultural Programme in London
- The Dame Vera Lynn Trust for Children with Cerebral Palsy
- The British Heart Foundation
- London Youth
- Metropolitan Masonic Charity (Cyberknife Appeal)
- The Children's Hospital
- Royal National Children's Foundation
- Movember (Prostate Cancer Charity)
- The Royal Berks Charity
- Variety (The Children's Charity)
- Keep Wales Tidy Campaign
- Lymphoma Association Fund
- PGM London Fund of Benevolence (‘Driving to help those in need’ Mini-Bus Appeal)
Whether you are the Eccentric Club member or not, you too can show your good will by donating to the Eccentric Club – all donations, however large or small, help us to continue our charitable work, to promote the ‘Nil Nisi Bonum’ principle, to research, restore and preserve the important segments of our historic and cultural heritage, to help those in need and to upkeep the charitable traditions of this country.
You can donate online (with Paypal accepting all major credit cards) by clicking on the button below and entering any amount you choose. We shall always acknowledge your kindness at our next meeting and shall publish the names of our donors in the club magazine. Alternatively, you can send the cheques to "The Eccentric Club (UK)" to the address at the bottom of this page with a note about the charitable causes you support.
The members of the old club in Ryder Street are most welcome to donate any documents, photographs and any other effects related to the old club for our archive and museum. We will be equally grateful for the works of art and books by the members of the old and the present club, although until the acquisition of our own permanent club house, they may only be occasionally displayed and then stored away until next occasion.
God, bless you all!
We wholeheartedly THANK our donors,
who even at these difficult times of the world recession
are generously supporting our club:
Mr Robert Stevens (USA)
Mr Thierry Gerber (Switzerland)
Mr Clem Chambers (London)
Major Hon. S. P. Rothschild de Courcy (Berkshire)
Professor Sir Roger Thompson (South Korea)