Gar­rick Club set to end 187-year ban on women

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Talk Of The Town -

IT IS one of the last men-only bas­tions in the coun­try, a club that has stead­fastly re­fused to al­low women through its doors as members for two cen­turies.

But I can now re­veal that The Gar­rick Club, in the heart of Lon­don’s West End, plans to hold a vote that could see women ad­mit­ted as members for first time in its 187-year his­tory.

The club, which counts Stephen Fry and Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch as members, will host a se­cret meeting of its com­mit­tee in the new year to de­cide whether it should hold a new vote on the sub­ject.

In 2015, 50.5 per cent of members voted in favour of al­low­ing fe­male members – far short of the two-thirds ma­jor­ity needed for a rule change.

Sev­eral sources close to The Gar­rick, which was named af­ter lead­ing 18th Cen­tury ac­tor David Gar­rick and which has strong con­nec­tions with the the­atre world, con­firmed that members were pre­par­ing for fur­ther dis­cus­sions on the sub­ject as there has been a change in mood since 2015.

One of those in favour of fe­male mem­ber­ship said: ‘The role of women in the the­atre should be recog­nised. I think there has been a huge swing [since that vote]. There is a great feel­ing that this is some­thing we need to look at.

‘At the last meeting those members who were anti women members were vit­ri­olic, vi­cious and un­be­liev­ably rude and re­ally un­pleas­ant.’

Last time members such as Stephen Fry, Damian Lewis, Hugh Bon­neville, Michael Gove and Sir Trevor McDon­ald in­di­cated they would sup­port women join­ing. And BBC jour­nal­ist John Simp­son said af­ter the vote fell short: ‘No­body in The Gar­rick feels this is the end of the road.’

The Gar­rick was founded in 1831 and its orig­i­nal se­lec­tion cri­te­rion de­creed that ‘it would be bet­ter that ten un­ob­jec­tion­able men should be ex­cluded than one ter­ri­ble bore should be ad­mit­ted.’

It is one of just a hand­ful of clubs that still refuse to ad­mit fe­male members. The oth­ers in­clude White’s, Boo­dle’s and Pratt’s.

The Gar­rick de­clined to com­ment.

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