Watier, there's a fly in my soup!
Posted by Bob Whitworth on August 22, 1998 at 02:01:28:
The following information about Watier’s is from "Old and New London Illustrated," vol. IV, pg. 284.
At the opposite (east) corner of Bolton Street, (Piccadilly) stood, from 1807 to 1819, Watier’s Gambling Club. Concerning the origin of this club--or rather, gaming house, for it was nothing more--the following ancedote is told by Captain Gronow:--”Upon one occasion, some gentlemen of both ‘White’s’ and ‘Brooks’s’ had the honour to dine with the Prince Regent, and during the conversation the Prince inquired what sort of dinners they got at their clubs; upon which Sir Thomas Stepney, one of the guests, observed that their dinners were always the same, the eternal joints or beef-steaks, the boiled fowl with oyster sauce, and an apple tart. “that is what we have at our clubs, and very monotonous fare it is.’ The Prince, without further remark rang the bell for his cook, Watier, and in the presence of those who dined at the royal table, asked him whether he would take a house and organise a dinner-club. Watier assented, and named the Prince’s page, Madison, as manager, and Labourie, from the royal kitchen, as cook. The club flourished only a few years, owing to the night-play that was carried on there. The favourite game played there was ‘Macao.’" The Duke of York patronised it, and was a member. Tom Moore also tells us that he belonged to it. The dinners were exquisite; the best Parisian cooks could not beat Labourie.
Mr. John Timbs, in this account of this club, remarks, with sly humour, “In the old days, when gaming was in fashion, at Watier’s Club both princes and nobles lost or gained fortunes between themselves;” and by all accounts “Macao” seems to have been a far more effective instrument in the losing of fortunes than either “Whist” or “Loo.”
Mr. Raikes, in his “Journal,” says that Watier’s Club, which had originally been established for harmonic meetings, became, in the time of “Beau” Brummell, the resort of nearly all the fine gentlemen of the day.
“The dinners,” he adds, “were superlative, and high play at ‘Macao’ was generally introduced. It was this game, or rather losses which arose out of it, that first led the ‘Beau’ into difficulties.” Mr. Raikes further remarks, with reference to this club, that its pace was “too quick to last,” and tha its records show that none of its members at his death had reached the average age of a man. The club was closed in 1819, when the house was taken by a set of “black-legs” who instituted a common bank for gambling. This caused the ruin of several fortunes, and it was suppressed in its turn, or died a natural death.
- More info? Lou 12:57:03 8/22/98 (0)
- Good info, but . . . Woodhouse 10:35:14 8/22/98 (1)
- Black-legs Bob Whitworth 14:04:35 8/22/98 (0)
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