Organizations of the sort have existed for many years, as evidenced by Ancient Greek clubs and associations collegia in Ancient Rome. It is uncertain whether the use of the word "club" originated in its meaning of a knot of people, or from the fact that the members "clubbed" together to pay the expenses of their gatherings.
The oldest English clubs were merely informal periodic gatherings of friends for the purpose of dining or drinking with one another.
In John Aubrey wrote, "We now use the word clubbe for a sodality [a society, association, or fraternity of any kind] in a tavern. John Selden , John Donne , John Fletcher and Francis Beaumont were among the members although it is often asserted that William Shakespeare and Sir Walter Raleigh were members of this club, there is no documented evidence to support this claim. With the introduction of coffee-drinking in the middle of the 17th century, clubs entered on a more permanent phase.
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The coffee houses of the later Stuart period are the real originals of the modern clubhouse. The clubs of the late 17th and early 18th century type resembled their Tudor forerunners in being oftenest associations solely for conviviality or literary coteries. But many were confessedly political, e. The Rota, or Coffee Club , a debating society for the spread of republican ideas, broken up at the Restoration in , the Calves Head Club c.
The characteristics of all these clubs were:. See English coffeehouses in the 17th and 18th centuries. The idea of the club developed in two directions. One was of a permanent institution with a fixed clubhouse.
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The London coffeehouse clubs in increasing their members absorbed the whole accommodation of the coffeehouse or tavern where they held their meetings, and this became the clubhouse, often retaining the name of the original innkeeper, e. White's , Brooks's , Arthur's , and Boodle's.
These still exist today as the famous gentlemen's clubs. The peripatetic lifestyle of the 18th and 19th century middle classes also drove the development of more residential clubs, which had bedrooms and other facilities. Military and naval officers, lawyers, judges, members of Parliament and government officials tended to have an irregular presence in the major cities of the Empire , particularly London, spending perhaps a few months there before moving on for a prolonged period and then returning. Especially when this presence did not coincide with the Season , a permanent establishment in the city i.
Clubbing with a number of like-minded friends to secure a large shared house with a manager was therefore a convenient solution.
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The other sort of club meets occasionally or periodically and often has no clubhouse, but exists primarily for some specific object. Such are the many purely athletic, sports and pastimes clubs, the Alpine, chess, yacht and motor clubs. Also there are literary clubs see writing circle and book club , musical and art clubs, publishing clubs. The institution of the gentleman's club has spread all over the English-speaking world. In the United States clubs were first established after the War of Independence. One of the first was the Hoboken Turtle Club , which still survived as of The earliest clubs on the European continent were of a political nature.
These in were repressed in Austria and Germany, and later clubs of Berlin and Vienna were mere replicas of their English prototypes.
In France, where the term cercle is most usual, the first was Le Club Politique , and during the French Revolution such associations proved important political forces see Jacobins , Feuillants , Cordeliers. Buyer's clubs or buying clubs are clubs organized to pool members' collective buying power, enabling them to make purchases at lower prices than are generally available, or purchase goods that might otherwise be difficult to obtain.
There are many legitimate buying clubs — for example, food buying clubs — but many are unauthorized credit card billing scams, in which a customer is induced to enroll in a free trial of a buyer's club membership, and then unexpectedly billed when the trial ends. There are two types of athletic and sports clubs: those organized for sporting participants which include athletic clubs and country clubs , and those primarily for spectator fans of a team.
Athletic and country clubs offer one or more recreational sports facilities to their members. Such clubs may also offer social activities and facilities, and some members may join primarily to take advantage of the social opportunities. Country clubs offer a variety of recreational sports facilities to their members and are usually located in suburban or rural areas. Swimming pools , tennis courts , polo grounds and exercise facilities are also common. Country clubs usually provide dining facilities to their members and guests, and frequently host special events like weddings.
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Similar clubs in urban areas are often called "athletic clubs". These clubs often feature indoor sports, such as indoor tennis, squash , futsal , basketball , volleyball , boxing , and exercise facilities. Members of sports clubs that support a team can be sports amateurs—groups who meet to practice a sport, as for example in most cycling clubs —or professionals; football clubs consist of well-paid team members and thousands of supporters. A sports club can thus comprise participants not necessarily competitors or spectator fans, or both.
Some organizations exist with a mismatch between name and function. The Jockey Club is not a club for jockeys , but rather exists to regulate the sport of horseracing ; the Marylebone Cricket Club was until recently the regulatory body of cricket ; and so on. Sports club should not be confused with gyms and health clubs, which also can be for members only.
Fraternities and sororities are social clubs of secondary or higher education students. Membership in these organizations is generally by invitation only. Hobbies are practiced for interest and enjoyment, rather than financial reward. Examples include science fiction clubs , ham radio , model railroading , collecting , creative and artistic pursuits, making, tinkering, sports, and adult education. Engaging in a hobby can lead to acquiring substantial skill, knowledge, and experience. However, personal fulfillment is the aim.
Personal Clubs are similar to Hobby Clubs. These offer benefits to clubs but also require meeting certain rules and obligations. Whatever structure or status you choose, make sure you understand what the implications are and you may want to consider updating your Constitution to reflect your new structure.
Club Management Club Structures. It is important that your club is structured, from a legal perspective, in a way that best suits your needs now and in the future. Use the buttons below to explore the different structures in more detail. Our Club Structures Online Module and Workshop investigate the pros and cons of each legal structure. As this can be a complex area, your National Governing Body may be able to provide further support and in some instances, you may need to seek professional advice.