Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do we define 'Eccentricity' ?
Eccentricity comes in many shapes and forms, it can be amusing, entertaining, enlightening, creative, useful, dangerous, egoistic, tasteless, threatening, etc. Regrettably, so many things and acts are being called “eccentric” that the definition of eccentricity is too wide and vague. The Eccentric Club, traditionally, celebrates eccentricity as the originality and individual creative expression of its members, unique and yet practical, achievable and yet fantastic in the eyes of the conventional observers, successful in its completion and useful – not just to the originator, but to the public in general, to the nation and the mankind.
Centuries ago, our predecessors were also talking about “Good Fellowship” and “True Sociality” – “virtues which are now getting rare and eccentric; but which it is the wish and intent of this Society to cherish within their narrow circle to the utmost of their power... in the occasional enjoyment of ‘The feast of reason and the flow of soul’” (The Eccentric Society Rules and Regulations, 1808).
2. What do we do at the club ?
Our members meet on a regular basis at one of the venues to enjoy each other’s company and the intellectual conversation over a glass of fine wine or a convivial club dinner. We often invite our friends, non-members, members of other clubs, and those interested to learn more about our club, to our monthly meetings. That’s where our members can get to know better our guests and vice versa, questions are asked and answered on both sides, both parties may occasionally treat those gathered to some artistic entertainment.
We also have a number of ‘special’ annual events designed to generate the necessary publicity about the club's revival, its activities and charitable work. These include “The Great British Eccentric Annual Award”, “The Annual Friday the 13th Dinner”, “The Battle of Verse” and others.
We take very seriously the charitable heritage of our club, once one of the most charitable organisations in Britain. Our main work consists of the historic research and preservation of the club and its history, which is inseparable from that of Britain itself. 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 the mankind a huge chunk of their historic and cultural heritage.
We believe that today 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. Having said that, the revived club does not exclude entirely its support to the charitable causes abroad – as you may see from the list of the charities we have helped.
The Eccentric Club continues to be involved in the advancement of the arts, culture, heritage and amateur sports, 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!) .
3. Who are our members and what are they like ?
Presently, the club membership consists of some remarkable gentlemen and ladies, all of whom were carefully selected and include many prominent figures notable for their achievements in various fields of Art, Law, Politics, Science and Business.
We have in our midst the actors, restaurateurs, property developers whose projects are changing London skyline, antiquarians, fashion and furniture designers, writers, artists, performers, professional sportsmen, barristers, judges, inventors and members of the aristocracy.
4. What do we expect of our members ?
The club’s motto is ‘Nil Nisi Bonum’ – ‘Nothing But Good’ – and that is precisely what is expected of our members’ conduct. Our tradition requires our members to avoid discussing any business, political or religious issues, the members are expected to demonstrate a high degree of consideration in their words and actions, to treat fellow members with respect and to avoid any issues which may result in a conflict between them; if such a conflict has occurred nevertheless, they are expected to extinguish it at the earliest opportunity. Those responsible for any furtherance of such a conflict may be expelled from the club.
5. How does one become a member of our club ?
There are many ways for one to become a member of the Eccentric Club. If you are patient and determined, you are very likely to succeed, whether you are a gentleman or a lady.
The best way, of course, is to be proposed and seconded by the existing club members, and the longer they have been our members - the better. If they have belonged to the old club in Ryder Street, this is even better still.
If, however, you know no-one at the club, you may still register your interest in our membership online, so that we will have your details should we want to contact, meet and consider you as a candidate for our membership.
It may be so that your life story and various achievements will impress so much the Committee, that you will be invited to the club for an interview, which may convince the Committee to make an exception and vote for your election as a member.
Finally, if you can think of an original and eccentrically creative act, which may be offered to the club members as their entertainment, or if you are a particularly good sportsman (cricket, snooker/billiards, golf), do approach the Committee, and you may be invited to the next club event to perform or to the relevant sports team of our members to play for the club against other clubs. Some of the most successful performers, sportsmen and after-dinner speakers are traditionally awarded with a year’s free membership of the Eccentric Club.
6. I am not an 'eccentric', may I still join your club ?
Being an eccentric, in one’s understanding, is not the ultimate requirement for being considered as our future member. Not all the eccentrics are the members of our, or, indeed, of any other club. And not all of our members are the eccentrics (in fact, most of them would reject the very idea!).
One of the characters in "The Eccentric Club: Being a Short Outline of Its Past" (published in 1880), a book by X.Y.Z., the Eccentric Society Club member, says: "I'm afraid... that eccentricity may become fashionable. Nobody wants eccentricity a fashion - would not do. Want it natural. A man to be worthy of this Society should not know he has it himself. They say, I'm eccentric, I didn't know it. I'm the last man myself to believe I am eccentric. Still, I am told I am."
If, on the other hand, you believe that you share our ideals and would be able to contribute to the club’s further development and the charitable work we do, we shall be delighted to hear from you.
7. I am not your club member, may I recommend someone for your club membership ?
By all means. Why not?
Do recommend us someone else, who, in your opinion, might enjoy getting to know us, to learn more about our history and traditions, charity and original entertainment, and whose company might be equally enjoyed by our members.
8. Is your club 'gentlemen only'? Can ladies join your club ?
Yes! In 1984 it was announced that the Eccentric Club, known for many years as a male bastion, is to start accepting female members. It then closed for the refurbishment and never re-opened again, until its revival in 2008 in totally different premises, run, mostly, by totally different people. Some evil tongues in the 80s were saying that this decision led the club to its closure, that it was never meant to accept women as members...
In our day and age, however, it sounds obsolete and unreasonable to refuse our ladies a chance to exercise their originality, eccentricity and social network weaving skills to the fullest at the Eccentric Club. We upheld the 1984 decision and from the very first day of our revival we have been accepting lady members, who, at the moment make up about 25 per cent of the club membership.
9. What is the dress code at your club ?
Despite a popular belief that 'eccentrics need no dress code', we believe that our inner originality won't lose its sparkle if it is framed in a formal attire acceptable throughout the clubland.
If anything, our fellow eccentrics enjoy overdressing and celebrating their sense of fashion and taste.
For the club dinners, drinks receptions and convivial evenings, we expect Black Tie from the gentlemen (White Tie on some rarer occasions) and Evening Dress from the ladies. Top hats and tiaras are always welcome as are the ties and scarves, particularly, our own club ties and scarves.
10. Is your club related to the old Eccentric Club which used to be in Ryder Street ?
When the club’s revival was started in 2007, we were considering creating a brand new club. However, as our efforts were becoming more noticeable, we have been getting more and more support of the former members of the old club, their families, relatives and friends, many of whom were joining our club, seeing in it the continuation of the old Eccentric Club.
When the last President of the old Eccentric Club, the late Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, had entrusted us his personal archive of the documents related to the old club, he gave us his blessing, and fully supported our endeavours, acknowledging that we are the next chapter of the old Eccentric Club.
In November 2009, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, has granted us his Royal Patronage and was formally re-elected as our Honorary Life Member.
The old club’s logo, motto and the very name “Eccentric Club” are now the registered trademarks of our club, so there is no other Eccentric Club in the UK.
11. The old Eccentric Club was founded in 1890, why do you claim being older ?
For many decades it was believed that the club was founded in 1890 by Jack Harrison, which is partially true. However, there are records of at least a few previous Eccentric Clubs which existed in London between 1780s and 1880s.
We have reasons to believe that a theatrical costumier from Covent Garden by the name of Harrison, who was a member of the older Eccentric Club in 1830s-1850s, was in fact the father of Jack Harrison.
In 1893, at the Third Anniversary Dinner, Jack Harrison admitted that the Eccentric Club roots go to a much older club, which existed in 1800s, and that the white owl was its symbol. His speech was recorded and reported in a number of contemporary newspapers, one of them being The Era, popular at the time.
12. Didn't the old Eccentric Club merge with the East India Club ?
After the renovation works started in Ryder Street in 1984/85, the East India Club invited a number of the Eccentric Club members of good standing to join it and enjoy its facilities along with its own full members and many members of other clubs, which over the years have merged with the East India Club, giving it its present name: “The East India Devonshire Public Schools and Sports Club”, which is almost meaningless to those who do not know this club’s history.
Many of the old Eccentric Club members disliked the idea of joining the East India Club at the time, still hoping to be able to use the Eccentric clubhouse in Ryder Street and believing that the very spirit of the East India Club was quite different to that of the Eccentric.
Most of the old Eccentric Club Committee members, however, have accepted this offer and became the East India Club full members, some remain such until this very day and a few are working for various Committee roles at the East India Club. One of the bars at the East India Club has also 'Eccentric Clock', a replica of the famous Eccentric Club clock.
However, many other former eccentrics, after realising that the club house in Ryder Street is unlikely to re-open ever again, have joined the R.A.C., the Oxford and Cambridge and many other clubs.
The Eccentric Club Golfing Society went on to play at the Ealing Golf Club and the Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club. Some snooker players went to the R.A.C., where you may see now some of the original Eccentric Club snooker tables.
So, it would be incorrect to say that the Eccentric Club ‘merged’ with the East India Club, many of the former old Eccentric Club members would strongly disagree.
13. Is your club related to the Monster Raving Loony Party ?
No, we are not. In fact, the club is completely politically unaffiliated and impartial, although we do have some members, who, at various times, were participating in this party’s activities and one member who stood as this party’s candidate at the General Elections and received a great deal of support in Surrey!
But that was his personal choice. Nevertheless, we are proud of him and his achieved results.
14. What is your 'Convivial Evening' or 'The Candidates' Night' ?
We hold monthly our ‘Convivial Meetings’ (apart from occasional cancellations), often inviting to them not just the club members, but their friends, new candidates, former members seeking re-election and some new ‘interesting’ guests, chosen by or recommended to the Committee anonymously by our members.
It is an old tradition in our club to suggest such new guests to be invited, if the members believe that they may get interested in our club’s heritage, philosophy or our members, who may equally enjoy the new guests’ company.
Convivial Meetings are designed as joyful and merry evenings, full of entertaining conversations, drinks and canapes, occasional performances by the club members and the surprise guests, and the unique opportunity to get acquainted with the existing members of the club and ask them any questions about it.
Fun goes hand in hand with social networking here, the world’s leading artists, fashion designers and performers mix with the lawyers and politicians, members of the aristocracy and the eccentric inventors. But this is not just another networking club – all our guests are carefully selected by the organisers or suggested by the club members and then privately invited to attend. Those ignoring such invitations are normally not re-invited again. Those invited but unable to attend are always advised to let us know whether they’ll be wishing to come to a future club event.
15. I have been invited for 'The Candidates' Night', may I bring along a friend ?
Yes. If you have been invited to our Open Convivial Meeting or The Candidates' Night, you may bring a guest or two, as long as you feel that they will be interested, will fit in with a club like ours (even if only as the guests) and would be able to observe our rules of conduct, first of which is respect to everyone present and ‘Nil Nisi Bonum’. See above No.4.
16. I am a guest, may I photograph at your club ?
You should always formally ask us, and you may also need a formal permission from the venue we meet at. On most occasions, if the photographs are taken for the private use only, we would have no hesitation in allowing you to photograph, however, you may also need to ask the individual members whether they do not mind being photographed by you.
If you may also forward us afterwards any of the photographs of our members (ideally, in high resolution), we would always be happy to receive and preserve them – for the club archive and our newsletter/magazine. You will be credited everywhere where these images may appear, if there will be any interest in their publication elsewhere, outside the club, we shall duly contact you and seek your permission/approval of such a publication (and any commercial terms of it).
If you are a journalist and may need to use these images in some publication, please read first our Media Policy.
17. Can I stay overnight at your club ?
We have an arrangement with the clubs where we presently meet and other venues - for our members and the reciprocal members to be able to book a bedroom, subject to availability. However, it is advisable to contact the Eccentric Club Secretary some time in advance and let us know when you may need it.
18. Can I become a business partner of your club ?
Although the Eccentric Club is not a business, it is a long established and a well recognised social brand, associated with the subject of eccentricity. It may occasionally endorse a business with ethical and moral values close to those of “Nil Nisi Bonum”.
We would occasionally consider getting involved and associating with such businesses in order to raise the additional funds for the club’s charitable projects.
The Eccentric Club always welcomes all enquiries from the individuals and organisations willing to support our projects.
You may get a unique exposure on our website, in the club magazine, or become a sponsor of our annual events – The Great British Eccentric of the Year, The Annual Friday the 13th Dinner, The Battle of Verse and many other entertaining, charitable and cultural events.
Please contact the Club Secretary to discuss all the available options in greater detail.