A potted history of the County Club
A brief history about The County Club
The Club was originally 3 houses, built early in the 17th Century replacing a 12th Century Inn – it's old! The County Club was formed in 1882 as a gentleman's club with 120 members. By the end of it's first year there were 150. Membership was through being proposed and seconded by current members, with the voting box, as seen in the Carroll Suite being used. If there were 1 or 2 balls out of 10 in the "no" side then the proposed member was "blackballed" and could not join. This system is still in place 127 years later but the vote is carried out by the Committee only.
By 1946 there were 106 Lady Members, but they could not use the library, front doors or front staircase but had to use the tradesmen's entrance. Whilst the Gentlemen enjoyed full waiter service in the dining room the Ladies had to collect their lunch from the kitchen and dined in a separate area to the dining room. In 1947 a Ladies Secretary was appointed who, at the next meeting of the Committee, presented a list of complaints from the lady members of the Club. They were largely ignored and female membership of the Club declined sharply.
On 5th March 1949 the Steward gassed himself in his office, having been given notice for intemperance – some say they had seen him in the club to this day. Indeed I for one have experienced his presence, normally when alone in the club when it is very quiet – he doesn't seem to mean any harm.
As late as 1982 ladies still had restricted privileges – whilst there was full waiter service in the Dining room for the gentlemen, ladies were expected to go to the kitchen hatch and collect their food from the chef, and of course, dine in a separate room.
Finally at the 1999 AGM it was voted that ladies and gentlemen have equal rights in the Club – a momentous moment for such an institution.
In 2008 the club was extensively refurbished with a growing membership of 350. It seems though as many who join the same number leave, normally because they are moving out of the area. Although it is a social club it plays it's part in the community and widely used by business professionals for networking.
Membership is £225.00 to join with an annual fee of £225.00. New members need to be proposed and seconded by current members.
The Club is open Monday to Saturday for lunch and on Thursday evenings for dinner. The Club is also available for weddings and conferences to non-members and the three meeting rooms upstairs receive regular use from local companies. We host many business breakfast meetings, being ideally set in the middle of town.
Despite the many changes that club has gone through since it's inception to this day it functions as it was founded – a social club for Guildford and Surrey, where professionals of all shades of political opinion can meet.
Kevin G Lorimer – General Manager