The University Women’s Club was founded in 1886 when Miss Gertrude E M Jackson of Girton College, Cambridge, called a meeting at her Portman Square home, attended by 60 people, to discuss the idea of a club for University Women.
At that first historic meeting, it was agreed that the entrance fee be one guinea (£1.05) and the annual subscription be the same.
A number of meetings were subsequently held and in January 1887 the University Club for Ladies, as it was then called, opened premises at 31 New Bond Street on the second and third floors providing a drawing room, dining room, library and dressing room. By 1894 the Club needed to expand and new premises at Maddox Street were secured.
By 1904, the Club had moved to 4 George Street, Hanover Square where a number of bedrooms were available and by 1913, membership had grown to 800 members.
After the Great War, the Club was again looking for new premises and, after a lengthy search, the freehold of 2 Audley Square – the Club’s permanent home today – was purchased in 1921. At the same time, the Club adopted the name The University Women’s Club.
Audley Square was designed by T.H. Wyatt, and was built in 1876/7 for Lord Arthur Russell on the site of the house in which his mother and father lived from 1850 to 1874. The house remained in the family until sold to the Club. It is reputed to have been used by Dorothy L. Sayers in The Story of the Haunted Policeman as the model for “the Belchesters’ House” in Audley Square that Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane took as their town house when they married. Jill Paton Walsh’s completion of Sayers’ “Thrones, Dominations” continues the story of their life in Audley Square.
Today, The University Women’s Club is the only women’s club in the UK to be wholly owned by its Members. It remains true to the aspirations of its founders by providing a welcoming environment and pleasant accommodation in Central London for Graduate, Professional and Business women. It offers first class cuisine, social events and a place to relax away from the hubbub of the busy city.