The County Club itself was formed in 1882 with an original cohort of 120 gentlemen members, a number which rose to 150 by the end of its first year. Membership was strictly through a proposed and seconded system, with members given the opportunity to ‘blackball’ anybody they did not fancy. The original velvet-lined voting box can be found, enjoying pride of place in the Carroll Suite.
By 1946 there were 106 lady members, but their privileges were restricted, so much so that they could not use the library, the front doors, or even the main staircase, and while their male counterparts enjoyed full waiter service, the ladies had to collect their lunch and dine in a separate area.
We have come a long way, albeit rather slowly, in fact, it was as late as 1982 before separate dining rooms were completely done away with, and although the parity of membership was finally voted in at the 1999 AGM, the rules had been relaxed much earlier.
But what about ghosts?
Of course, we have a resident spirit, (there is no truth in the rumour that he only appears when the other type of ‘spirit’ is involved). In 1949, the Club steward took his own life having disgraced himself by agreeing to abide by new Government regulations about of all things, and irony of ironies, the size of spirit measures served in the bar. It is the spectral vision of this poor steward that is said to walk the landings to this day.
And the future?
The County Club is in robust shape to enjoy another century or two yet, membership is flourishing, and we are welcoming more and more visitors to use our meeting spaces and enjoy our hospitality.
The County Club is most certainly a place for its members, and Guildford to be proud of.