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The Guardian reported on the leaked list of Garrick Club member names in March 2024, revealing a significant number of members were legal professionals, including powerful judges. Concerns were immediately voiced on the implications of judges who were members of gender-discriminatory clubs, particularly concerning judges hearing cases on gender-based violence. Dr Charlotte Proudman organised an open letter, signed by over 100 legal professionals, calling out this conflict and asking judges to resign from their memberships. Another letter was written and signed by MPs, legal professionals, academics, and campaigners calling for women to be admitted as members. Following the letter, a peaceful protest was held outside the gates led by Apsana Begum MP, activist and legal professional Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, and our founder, Dr Proudman, trying to deliver the letter, but they were locked out of the Club. Upon calling to ask for the gates to open so the letter could be delivered, the Garrick responded, ‘No, thank you’.

Since the leak and the letter, midway into April, several members resigned, including the head of the civil service, Simon Case, the MI6 chief, Richard Moore, appeal court judge Keith Lindblom, high court judges Nicholas Cusworth, Nicholas Lavender, Ian Dove, and Julian Flax. Two judges have been recused from cases in part due to their membership in the club, including one meant to preside over an alleged rape case. In May 2024, the Garrick voted to admit women.

The work is ongoing, though, despite the significant victory. There are still a number of men-only clubs with powerful members, including the King, Peers, MPs, senior members of the judiciary, barristers, actors, and others, which refuse to grant women equal access but do allow them as guests, observers, staff, accessories, and entertainment for older men.

Why are Women Banned from Membership in 2024? 

The Bath & Racquets Club, founded in May 1989, bans phones and women, but women may watch squash games (but may not participate). 

The Beefsteak Club, founded in the 1700s, still bars women from membership. Despite its secrecy, it is known for its powerful members, reportedly including former MP Brooks Newmark, Rory Stewart, former MEP Stanley Johnson, Boris Johnson, Former Minister of State of the United Kingdom for Europe and North America Alan Duncan, Hugo Swire KCMG, PC, Norman Lamont MP, Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson, Lord Peter Lilley, and Lord Nicholas Soames. 

Brook’s Club was founded in the 1700s and, unfortunately, has a history not only of excluding women as members but also of objectifying women. [Brook’s] gambling excesses are legendary, culminating in a story of how in 1785 Lord Cholmondeley placed a bet with Lord Derby that he would win 500 guineas ‘whenever his lordship [fornicates with] a woman in a balloon one thousand yards from the Earth’.” 

Buck’s Club was founded in June 1919, and women cannot be members, but they can attend meals at “The Bond Street Horticultural Society”. The traditional event is referred to as “nieces’ night” by members. Older male members have dinner with a rotating list of younger female guests. The club discussed discontinuing the tradition after the Presidents Club scandal in 2018 exposed sexual misconduct at another all-male high-society dinner but decided against it.

The East India Club was “founded in the middle of the 19th century, its original members were ‘the servants of the East India Company and Commissioned Officers of Her Majesty’s Army and Navy’”. The East India Company pioneered the Atlantic slave trade and colonialism in India. In addition to the privileged and racist roots, the club clings to gender discrimination as well, refusing entry to women as members. 

The Flyfisher’s Club was founded in the 1800s and includes members such as King Charles. After the passing of the Equality Act, the club met and decided the only way to continue to exclude women was to ban them entirely, as opposed to their previous allowance for women at certain meals. 

The Savage Club, founded in the 1850s, is still barring women from entry, only allowing them temporary entry as guests or as widows of former members. 

The Savile Club, founded in the 1860s in Mayfair. In 2017, they amended their 150-year-old ‘men-only’ rule to allow a transgender woman to remain a member. They have not extended membership to all women, just one. 

The Travellers Club was founded in 1819. Prince Philip was its Patron, and the King, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward all hold honorary membership. Women are welcome as guests except in the smoking room and the cocktail bar. The club has male and female ambassadors, but only the male ambassadors can be members. They previously held a vote to allow women but elected not to, with reasonings including not wanting to hear women’s “shrill voices” or have them, as categorically “normal-life” persons, intrude on the club.

White’s Club, founded in the 1960s, whose members reportedly include the King, has become a symbol of resistance to positive change. David Cameron resigned over their refusal to allow women as members.

The Portland Club in London continues to deny women access. 

The Turf Club (which Prince Charles and Prince Harry are reportedly honorary members of) continues to deny women access.

It’s time to end this unjust gender-based exclusion and move towards a future where clubs reflect the equality and inclusivity that must define our society.


Read the letter addressed to all men’s clubs: Open Letter to All Mens Club.

Read the long version of the letter: Long Letter to All Male Clubs.