The club was founded by Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Barnes (1776–1838) in 1837. His proposal was to establish an Army Club, with all officers of Her Majesty's Army on full or half pay eligible for membership. However, when The Duke of Wellington was asked to be a patron, he refused unless membership were also offered to officers of the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines, and this was agreed.
On 28 August 1837 a meeting representing the various services took place, to elect a Committee and to settle the new club's Rules. Sir Edward Barnes died on 19 March 1838, just two weeks before the first general meeting of the club. By 1851, the club was in a strong position, with sixteen hundred members and a waiting list of 834.This pressure led to the founding of the separate Naval & Military Club in 1862.
Membership of the Army and Navy Club is now offered also to members of Commonwealth armed services, to members' immediate families and to individuals who have no service background who are nominated and seconded by existing members. The club has some five thousand members, including women. They welcome individuals from all walks of life, military or not, men or women, student or retired.
There are 75 en-suite guest bedrooms, which include double, twin and single bedrooms, all equipped with multi-channel television, radio, refreshments, toiletries, hair dryers and other comforts. The Club offers relaxing, sophisticated and convenient accommodation, providing all you need for an overnight stay. The Smoking Room Bar on the ground floor offers an enticing variety of whiskies and spirits, as well as a great range of bottled beers.
The Coffee Room, the main restaurant, offers exceptional Table d’hôte and a la Carte menus at surprisingly modest prices; experience sensational modern cuisine in a splendid room filled with 19th Century paintings of royal and military figures. The Ribbon Bar & Terrace on the third floor is the perfect spot to relax; open seven days a week from late morning to late evening, smart casual wear may be worn at any time, and families of all ages are welcome until 5.30 pm. Pall Mall - The Rag's Breakfast Room offers stylish furnishings complemented by the light and airy decor of the spacious room, which also offers superb views over Pall Mall.
The Main Library in the Club, overlooking the gardens in St James's Square, is a haven of calmness and peace that allows members to take their time in browsing the wide selection of books on military and maritime history, as well as those on current global and geopolitical aspects of military and maritime affairs. Meet Ian Stewart, The Rag’s hairdresser. His distinguished clientele includes TV newscasters, actors Richard Dreyfuss and Jeff Goldblum, celebrated playwright Tom Stoppard, music maestro Andre Previn theatrical producer Michael Codron CBE, former Fleet Street editors Donald Trelford and Brian Macarthur and the late Leonard Bernstein.
He recalls his years in the Seventies at London’s trendy salon, ‘Glints’, where regulars included famous musicians like pianist Russ Conway, TV personality Russell Harty, and Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills and Nash. Moving on, Ian started at The Savoy in 1977, where he established a fine reputation as a gents’ hairdresser over the years. Ian’s most supportive, long-standing client is Lord Bragg, who has been a loyal and devoted friend of Ian for more than a decade.