The Chelsea Arts Club
Old Church Street
(just off Kings Road)
For over a hundred years the Chelsea Arts Club has remained a central gathering place for the artistic community of London and now boasts nearly three thousand life time patrons.
It's services include a massive dining room and garden which serves a daily menu which even though not cheap will satisfy even the most demanding palettes, vegetarians are catered for in full, for the full monty try Sunday lunch - you will not be disappointed. If the formal dining room proves too much of a task you can stay in the lounge area and order a sandwich from the bar until 17.00. As for the bar itself it remains open until 12.00am every night. After all the eating and drinking you may not be able to face the journey home - if you can stay in one of their guest rooms which are housed in the upper stories of the building.
Founded in 1891 at the height of the bohemian movement in Europe by the American painter James Abbot MacNeill Whistler alongside a group of friends in response to the need for a exclusive meeting place that was a little more friendly to the new revolutionaries. Chelsea even though the centre of the artistic movement in London at the time did not care to cater for the more free spirited generation.
Since it origins the Chelsea Arts Club has remained the same with the decor changing little, even though now it attracts the more mature and some would say more disillusioned circle of artists. It still attracts a modest number of new patrons a year and even though the atmosphere is subdued it is still a pleasant place to have a drink and meet friends (a member can invite up to five guests in one day).
For much of this century the Chelsea arts club fancy dress ball was a major social event - up until the 1980s it was frequently held in the Albert Hall, while more recently it has been held in a tent in the garden.
When I lived in Chelsea you could see the garden of the Arts Club from my window, in fact the gardens of the Club were and extension of ours, the only separation was a small fence and little stream. Whilst my father (a patron) was across the way with his new bride (my mother) socialising I would run across and sneak into the Club completely oblivious at the age of five of its strict no children policy. When I recently went back after over fifteen years I noticed that a 10 foot high brick wall had been erected and that their where a few small children with their parents in the club.