A singular ceremony is repeated at intervals in the London Season, which may be regarded as one of the most successful efforts of the kind yet invented. On a given morning (usuaily in the week before the great Epsom race), shortly after noon, some twenty splendid equipages belonging to members of the Four-in-Hand or Coaching Clubs muster in Hyde Park.
These are the representative English driving clubs, founded on the lines of an old and exclusive club which used to start from Chesterfield House, Mayfair, and drive down to Bedfont. The leaders of this club were Lord Chesterfield, Sir Henry Peyton, and the Duke of Beaufort. Its members might drive down visitors, but could not dine them at the club table. Consequently guests (as eating and drinking play an important part in all social gatheriings in England) would not come, and the pastime subsided into dreariness. To remedy this, the Richmond Driving Club was soon started. The Richmond Club members invited guests to their dinner-table, and thus escaped the charge of unsociability brought against the old club driving to Bedfont. But the Richmond Club died out, and then coaching seemed to be on its last legs. Only one coach went out of London from Hatchett's; and very few drove four-in-hand even down to the races. Then a revival sprang up in the founding of the present Four-In-Hand Club, which was originally limited to fifty members, who on grand occasions used to turn out some twenty-four teams. One reason for this limitation was, that it was difficult to find places witliin convenient distance of London to give dinner or luncheon to more than a hundred persons. There was no idea of exclusiveness; but as the coaches had to be driven somewhere, to carry guests, the latter had to be entertained. The founding of the Coaching Club was the result of this limitation of members by the older and more famous club.
The coaches of these clubs are built on the model of the old mail-coaches of fifty years ago, and therefore answer the purpose of being useless except for show. Each of them costs perhaps £500, and to each are harnessed four magnificent horses worth at least another £1,000. Upon these wait two grooms in faultless breeches, top-boots and coats, neither of whom stands there under £80 to £106 a year. When all are mustered the coaches start (with a number of "swells" seated outside) with becoming solemnity, and oftentimes no little difficulty, and make the tour of Hyde Park, some perhaps going as far as Hurlingham or the Crystal Palace to lunch. One would have thought that this absurd and useless "ceremony" could have little interest save for the distinguished members of the clubs and their friends. Yet year after year it attracts thousands of spectators, Who are massed in the vicinity of the Powder Magazine, Hyde Park, and at other points upon the line of route. A picture of these parts of the Park on a morning of one of the meets would somewhat astonish an earnest-minded foreigner bent on studying the manners of the English. Illustrated Handbook for the Season
The date at which amateurs first began to drive four-in-hand is shrouded in obscurity Before a regular system of stage-coaching was established, the squire of the period may have added a leader or leaders to his travelling carriage, to help him over the rough roads; and so necessity may have laid the first stone of what subsequently grew to be a great institution. It is probable, too, that, when stage-coaches were first started, gentlemen were found to be ambitious of driving, regardless of the discomforts of springless coach-boxes - for the springs under the box coachmen were indebted to John Warde, 'the father of fox-hunting' - ruts three feet deep, and, probably, very indifferent horses. This, however, is surmise; yet there may have been amateur talent at least in the time of Oliver Cromwell, who, it appears, was himself something of a coachman. As, however, he is one of the earliest amateurs of whose doings on the box we have any record, we may make mention of him, especially as the scene of his exploits was Hyde Park, a place which has since become closely identified with the gatherings of the now existing driving clubs. The Count of Oldenburg had presented the Lord Protector with six German horses, four of which Cromwell, regardless of the fact that they might never have been put together before, somewhat rashly attempted to drive himself.
The accepted version of the story is that, being annoyed at one of the horses, he made an ill-advised use of the whip - how history repeats itself! - startled his team, and was eventually thrown from the box, falling on to the pole, and thence to the ground, after being dragged for some distance by his feet catching in the harness; while additional danger threatened the Lord Protector from the fact that his sudden descent caused the accidental discharge of a pistol he carried in his pocket.
Such is the prose account of the accident; but Cleveland, the cavalier, commemorated the affair in verse, in these words:
Hark how the scoffing concourse hence derives
The proverb, "Needs must when the devil drives."
Yonder a whisper cries, " 'Tis a plain case.
He turned us out to put himself n' the place;
But, God-a-mercy, horses once for aye
Stood to it, and tum'd him out as well as me.' "
Another, not behind with his snacks.
Cries out, 'Sir, faith, you were in the wrong box.'
He did presume to rule because, forsooth.
He's been a horse commander from bis youth;
But he must know there's a difference in the reins
Of horses fed with oats and fed with grains.
I wonder at his frolic, for be sure
Four hampered coach horses can fling a brewer;
But "Pride will have a fall," such the world's course is.
He who can rule three realms can't guide four horses;
See him that trampled thousands in their gore,
Dismounted by a party but of four.
But we have done with 't, and we may call
This driving Jehu, Phaeton in his fall.
I would to God, for these three kingdoms' sake.
His neck, and not the whip, had given the crack.
In a poem entitled "The Fall," Sir John Birkenhead also commemorates Cromwell's accident. Both of the foregoing uncomplimentary rhymesters, however, fell upon evil times; Cleveland was imprisoned in Yarmouth gaol, whence he addressed to Cromwell a petition for his release; and Sir John Birkenhead was very nearly starved until, at the Restoration, he obtained a lucrative appointment as one of the Masters of Requests.
Whatever else we learn of amateur coachmanship is very fragmentary and wholly unimportant, until the end of the eighteenth century, by which time the labours of McAdam and Telford had begun to bear fruit. Roads were good, a higher rate of speed was attained; 'then,' in the words of a grateful coachman of old time, 'came Mr. McAdam, with his hammers, sand, and resin, and the crooked places were made straight, and the rough places plain and hard.' The advent of the famous road engineer was indeed the dawning of a new era, for in the old days of bad roads the lot of the coach traveller was far from being a happy one. A coach, which took four days to reach London from York, made its first journey on Friday, April 12, 1706, the announcement being made in the form of the advertisement as shown below.
In due course other stage-coaches made their appearance: one between London and Dover was established on March 28, 1751, taking about thirty-six hours on the way, and having 'a conveniency behind the coach for baggage and outside passengers.' About the same time there was coach communication between London and Edinburgh, as in 1754 the vehicle previously in use was, 'for the better accommodation of passengers, altered to a new genteel two-end glass coach machine, being on steel springs, exceeding light, and easy to go in ten days in summer and twelve in winter.' In 1757 the merchants of Liverpool organised their 'flying machine,' also on steel springs, in imitation of the Manchester 'flying coach;' and as time sped on, the business of coaching expanded; many of the best known men of the day interested themselves in the affairs of the road, and were often seen 'at work.' The natural outcome of the taste for driving was the founding of the Bensington (Oxonice Benson) Driving Club, which was instituted on February 28, 1807. 'Nimrod ' says that it consisted of twenty-five members elected by ballot, each of whom paid 10l. on admission. To these enthusiastic coachmen, to whom long journeys were of every-day occurrence, distance was at first of no consideration. Accordingly, we find the club rules provided that members should drive twice a year to the Whiite Hart, Bensington, in Oxfordshire, fifty-six miles from London; and twice to the Black Dog, Bedfont, near Hounslow, fourteen miles from town. This arrangement lasted for sixteen years, when the Bensington gatherings were given up. Bedfont, however, seems to have been the virtual headquarters of the B.D.C., and there it was that the club had its wine-cellar, a circumstance which may or may not have prompted a chronicler of the time to say, when describing one of the visits to Bedfont, that the members 'dashed home in a style of speed and splendour equal to the spirit and judgment (sic) displayed by the noble, honourable, and respective drivers.' During its early years the B.D.C. was colloquially known as the Black and White Club, owing to the places of meeting being the White Hart and the Black Dog.
Before the B.D.C. had been established for a year, the Benevolent Whip Club came into existence. It has been said that the Bensington Driving Club men founded it; but such was not the case. A dozen well-to-do professionals, anxious for the interests of their less fortunate brethren, conceived the idea of establishing a benefit society; and their deliberations took the form of the Benevolent Whip Club, whose object it was to relieve coachmen and guards, when in distress, and to allow 12s. per week to the families of those who were in prison for debt. To the funds of this society the B.D.C. contributed one hundred guineas, and its resources would appear to have been subject to a heavy drain, as, in twenty years, grants to the amount of 9,000l. were made to needy men, and the families of those who found themselves in prison. When this club was dissolved cannot be discovered; but its modem representative is the Cabdrivers' Benevolent Association.
The prestige which immediately surrounded the original driving club caused applications for membership to flow in; but it was decided not to exceed the number of 25, so in 1808, Mr. Charles Buxton, the inventor of the Buxton bit, together with one or two of his friends, were instrumental in founding a second society, called the Four-Horse Club, but often, though erroneously, known as the Four-in-Hand Club, the Whip Club, and the Barouche Club. It no doubt received the last-named appellation owing to the fact that its members drove a sort of barouche. In the Sporting Magazine for February, 1809, under the heading 'Carriages for the Whip Club,' a contributor wrote: - 'The Vis landau will be the fashionable carriage among the members of the Whiip Club this season. This carriage differs from the vis-a-vis in respect to its size; the former carries four, the latter only two. It is round on one side, with a single sweep from elbow to door-rail, the roof is less round than heretofore; the joints are of Prince's metal, or plated; the crests in raised silver in a garter on the head-plates; arms on door and end panels. The Vis landau differs from the barouche by reason of the former being divested of the sword-case behind, and the sweep in the fore-panel, which latter gains another seat or two. There are two lamps in front The body is yellow, between a patent and a king's yellow; the carriage is red picked out with black; its length is 8 feet, and the body is hung 4 feet from the ground on German instead of Polignac springs. It has a barouche box instead of a fixed or Salisbury one, and is hung to the body with open fore-end. The lining is of dark blue, with blue and yellow lace. Lord Sefton, Lord Saye and Sele, Lord Hawke, the Hon. M. Hawke, Messrs. Butler, Best, and Buxton will exhibit a splendid appearance.' The club rules, however, merely said that the barouches should be yellow bodied, with 'dickies,' the horses bay, with rosettes at their heads, and the harness silver-mounted. Inasmuch as Mr. Annesley drove roans, and Sir Henry Peyton greys, however, the stipulation as to the colour of the horses does not appear to have been strictly enforced.
Equally particular were the Four-Horse-men about their personal appearance. The uniform of the modem driving clubs is very simple; but eighty years ago far greater attention was bestowed upon matters of detail. The prescribed dress consisted of a drab coat reaching to the ankles, with three tiers of pockets, and mother-o'-pearl buttons as large as five-shilling pieces; the waistcoat was blue, with yellow stripes an inch wide; breeches of plush, with strings and rosettes to each knee; and it was de rigueur that the hat should be 31/2 inches deep in the crown. Making all allowance for the whims of fashion, and the changes in dress in the course of three-quarters of a century, there was something rather outre in this attire. Charles Mathews, the elder, ever on the watch for a subject for travesty, caricatured the unifonn of the Four-Horse Club in 'Hit and Miss,'and thereby brought upon himself the wrath of the coaching fraternity, one of whom professed to see in the comedian's get-up a likeness to himself. 'Hit and Miss,' however, ran its course, and was laughed at by the public. Joseph Grimaldi, too, the famous clown, made capital out of the dress in one of his comic scenes. After the fashion of clowns, he stole a blanket which served for a coat; this he decorated with cheese-plates (the result of a second theft) for buttons; and a cabbage served for a bouquet. A landau and wheels was extemporised out of a cradle and some cheeses, and a toy-shop burglary yielded four blotting-paper horses. Behind this team Grimaldi took his seat, and, after having in pantomimic action filed his front teeth, in imitation of one or two amateurs who had in that particular copied certain professionals, was drawn across the stage amidst much whistling and whip-flourishing. This, however, was taken in good part; indeed, the travesty soon became popular, and all the coaching men in London filled the boxes at the theatre to witness Grimaldi's scene.
The first meeting of the Four-Horse Club was held in April 1808, and the subsequent days of meeting were the first and third Thursdays in May and June. The members assembled at Mr. Buxton's house in Cavendish Square, and drove down to Salt Hill to dinner, patronising the Windmill and the Castle alternately. At one of the club dinners a controversy arose concerning the merits of the two houses; both had their advocates, and, as the question of supremacy could not be satisfactorily settled by the experience of the past, it was resolved to give both landlords notice of the dispute, and to notify the fact that, in the next season, the usual visits would be made with the special object of deciding in favour of one or the other. In due course May arrived, and the first visit was to the Castle. The dinner and its surroundings were as perfect as they could be, and no exception could be taken to the amine or the wines. The next foregathering at the Windmill only resulted in a gastronomic dead heat, for the preference could be given to neither. There was then nothing to be done but to give one more trial to each hostelry and the second dinner at the Castle served but to further fog the self-appointed arbiters. Then it so happened that, when the club went to the Windmill, for the last time, the day was broiling hot. The cloth had been cleared, and the diners were on the point of settling down to their wine, when the head waiter entered, followed by numerous attendants. Each guest was requested to rise, and the chair on which he had been sitting was exchanged for a cool one. After this careful attention to detail, the verdict was in favour of the Windmill. There were a couple of halts on the way down to Salt Hill, a distance of 24 miles from London. The club lunched at the Packhorse, Tumham Green, on the right of the road, and took further refreshment at the Magpies, Hounslow Heath; thence they ran to their destination, and back the next day, 'without,' as Nimrod says, 'the horses being taken out of their harness.'
Scarcely, however, had the Four-Horse Club been fairly started ere a charge of furious driving was formulated against some of the members: ' an ungovernable phrensy,' it was stated, took possession 'of these youths, who fancied, no doubt, that they were in the act of directing Roman chariots in the field of Mars, by their declared hostility to everything that came in their way.' For this, they 'received permission to resign,' and there was some talk of starting a new club, the Defiance, to be composed partly of 'new hands and partly of the members who were lately permitted to retire from the Buxton and Peyton Association.' The intending founder of the club was a gentleman whose name cannot be discovered; but he was a coachman of repute, and likewise a personage with science enough to 'design many of the improvements in the new fangled machines.' Preliminaries were carried as far as declaring that the key-bugle should be substituted for the straight horn, that the coats should be of Yorkshire drab, and the waistcoats of 'white silk shag.' Arrangements, however, fell through, and the club never existed.
For several years both the B.D.C. and F.H.C. flourished in friendly rivalry; members turned out in their full strength, and the coachmen were, from all accounts, the very embodiment of good-fellowship. About 1815, however, the Four-Horse Club began to wane, and in 1820 its dissolution came. 'I hear you men have broken up,' was the remark made by a well-known amateur to one of the club. 'No, we haven't broken up,' was the reply; 'we've broken down; the Four-Horse Club had not enough in hand to keep on with.' In 1822 it was revived under somewhat altered conditions. The carriage was a brown landaulet without ornaments; the horses might be of any colour, and the harness was brass-mounted, instead of silver-plated, as formerly. Even these more simple regulations were ineffectual to restore the club to its earher popularity, and, after existing for a year or two in a casual sort of way, it finally died out altogether about 1824. Meantime the B.D.C. held its way, was never short of its 25 members, who drove to its meets with unfailing regularity, at least till the year 1824, when the long journeys to Bensington were abandoned, and the expeditions confined, as already stated, to the Black Dog at Bedfont B.D.C, nevertheless, stood just as well for Bedfont as for Bensington, and as long as the club initials only were used there was no great solecism in giving up the visits to the place from which the club took its name. The alteration, however, appears to have been in accord with the taste of the members, and the Bedfont dinners gained in popularity. One night, after the club had dined, the King stopped to change horses at the Black Dog, and, on the members being informed that His Majesty's carriage was at the door, they drank his health with three times three. The King shortly afterwards saw one of the B.D.C. men, and having acknowledged the loyalty of his subjects on the night in question, asked, 'Was not old John Warde among you?' On being told that he was, the King remarked, 'Ah! I thought I knew his holloa.' 'Nimrod,' who relates the story, tells another about a Mr. Prouse, whose name seems to have been a household word on the Great Western road. In his own proper person good coachmanship, good fellowship, a marvellous capacity for liquor, and the skill of the juggler would seem to have been happily combined.
After five bottles of hock (says the narrator) which he could put under his waistcoat at a sitting without the smallest inconvenience, he has often been seen to fill a bumper, and place the glass on his head, during the time he would sing a song, in which not only every coachman's, but every innkeeper's, name between London and Plymouth was introduced. At the same time also he would go through the manoeuvres of hitting wheeler and leader, without spilling a drop of his wine; and, after he had drunk it off, he would run the empty glass up and down the large silver buttons on his coat with very singular effect.
In more ways than one, probably, worthy Mr. Prouse would be more than a match for most coachmen of to-day.
To return to the history of driving clubs, however, the B.D.C. was without a rival from the time of the break-up of the Four-Horse Club until the year 1838, when the Richmond Driving Club was founded by Lord Chesterfield 'the magnificent,' who was its president. No longer was it the correct thing to ape the manners and dress of stage-coachmen; for 'Ches,' as the originator of the club was familiarly called, insisted on his followers 'driving like coachmen, but looking like gentlemen;' and his lordship's standard of both qualifications was a high one. (*No better coachman ever drove four horses -D.)
At the outset the club consisted of the following members, their names and the description of their equipages being as given by Lord William Lennox: President, Earl of Chesterfield, blue and red coach, four bays; Marquis of Waterford, brown and red coach, four greys; Earl of Waldegrave, blue and red open barouche, bay team; Earl of Sefton, dark coloured barouche, bay team; Earl of Rosslyn, dark coloured coach, bay team; Count Batthyany, dark blue and white coach, bay team; Viscount Powerscourt, open barouche, four greys; Lord Alford, dark brown and red coach, bay team; Lord Alfred Paget, yellow and blue coach, mixed team; Lord Macdonald, dark brown and red coach, mixed team; Hon. Horace Pitt, blue and red coach, mixed team; Sir E. S my the, Bart., dark green coach, three greys and a piebald; Mr. A. W. Hervey Aston, dark blue and white coach, two bays and two greys; Mr. T. Bernard, dark brown coach, bay team; Mr. J. Angerstein, dark brown coach, bay team; Colonel Copeland, yellow barouche, four browns; Mr. George Payne, yellow coach, bay team; Mr. Lewis Ricardo, dark blue and white coach, bay team; Mr. H. Villebois, Junr., yellow coach, four bays.
Whatever may have been the criticism bestowed upon the earlier driving clubs, an outline of whose history has already been given, the efforts of the members of the Richmond Driving Club were not, perhaps, uniformly successful, if, indeed, any reliance is to be placed upon the stinging satire, The 'Chaunt of Achilles,' at first attributed to 'Charley' Sheridan, but afterwards recognised as the production of Mr. Surtees, the author of 'Mr. Facey Romford's Hounds,' 'Soapy Sponge,' and other works of a like character. At any rate, after stating that Lord Chesterfield led the way, this is how the author dealt with the procession: -
Following his track succeeds a numerous band.
Who vainly strive to work their fours-in-hand.
For Richmond bound I view them passing by,
Their hands unsteady, and their reins awry.
Some scratch their panels, some their horses' knees -
Beaufort and Payne, I class you not with these;
For who so smartly skims along the plain
As Beaufort's Duke? What whip can equal Payne?
No matter - dinner comes, when all are able
To drive their coaches well about the table.
Ricardo then can driving feats relate,
And Batthyany swear he'd clear the gate;
Till midnight closes o'er the festive scene,
Then who so bold as ride with Angerstein? *
He who aloft can mark with unmoved nerve
The wheelers jibbing while the leaders swerve,
And sit, all careless, 'mid the wordy war
To lose a linch-pin, break a splinter-bar.
(*Mr. Angerstein was so rash a coachman that no one would ride with him. On one occasion, when starting home after dinner at the Castle Hotel, Richmond, a guest inadvertently climbed on to his (Mr. A.'s) coach-box. Mr. Angerstein was so delighted at getting a passenger that he did not wait to start in procession, but went off at once. This caused his box-seat passenger to turn his head, whereupon, seeing to whose care he had entrusted himself - that he was on Angerstein's coach - he said nothing, but stood up and jumped straight off the box into the road. - B.)
With reference to the above scathing lines, it may be mentioned that the then Duke of Beaufort, though taking part in some of the processions, was not a member of the club. There were, however, other opinions besides those expressed by Mr. Surtees, for another rhymester is more complimentary:
In this famed driving club it were endless to trace,
All the notable coachmen the ribbons who grace;
Since Waterford, Paget, and Pitt swell the stream,
And the eye dwells delighted on every team.
'Paget' was the late Lord Alfred; and 'Pitt' was subsequently Earl Rivers.
The Richmond Driving Club used to meet at Lord Chesterfield's house, and drive to dinner to the Castle Hotel, Richmond. There poor Charley Sheridan would sing his best songs, one of them being 'John Collin,' beginning:
My name is John Collin, head-waiter at Limmer's,
At the comer of Conduit Street, Hanover Square,
Where my chief occupation is filling up brimmers
To solace young gentlemen laden with care.
In spite of the prestige the club gained under its noble president, the Richmond Driving Club only lasted about six or seven years, and the B.D.C. was once more alone in the field, and so it continued to the year 1853 or 1854. By this time, it must be remembered, the 'palmy days' of coaching were over; the train had driven most of the coaches off the road; and amateur driving was no longer influenced and inspired by the real business. Moreover, many members of the B.D.C. were well stricken in years; while, lastly, the Crimean war had broken out. Each of these circumstances had, without doubt, its influence upon the B.D.C, and contributed its share towards the breaking up of the club in the years 1853 and 1854, when, after an uninterrupted existence of forty-six years, it was dissolved, the bars were hung up, private fours-in-hand seemed likely to become as extinct as the quadriga, and the driving of four horses a lost art.
There was one amateur, however, who still remained faithful to the amusement in which he had for so long a period excelled. In the last of his papers upon the 'Four Georges ' - written in 1852 - Thackeray says: -
Where my Prince did actually distinguish himself was in driving. He drove once in four hours and a half from Brighton to Carlton House - fifty-six miles. All the young men of that day were fond of the sport. But the fashion of rapid driving deserted England, and, I believe, trotted over to America. Where are the amusements of our youth? I hear of no dicing now but amongst obscure ruffians; and no boxing except amongst the lowest rabble. One solitary four-in-hand still drove round the Parks in London last year; but that charioteer must soon disappear. He was very old; he was attired after the fashion of the year 1825. He must drive to the banks of the Styx before long, where the ferry-boat waits to carry him over to the defunct revellers, who boxed and gambled, and drank, and drove, with him who died George IV.
This 'solitary charioteer' was none other than Sir Henry Peyton, whose yellow coach and grey horses had been, for many, many years, a familiar sight at the gatherings of the B.D.C., and in London. Ten grey horses was the average strength of his coach stable; he drove all the year round; when not in London, his coach was-invariably to be found in Oxfordshire, either between Swift's House and Oxford, or, laden with a party of hunting men, on its way to the fixture of Mr. Drake's hounds. It was Sir Henry Peyton who first introduced the two mounts now seen on nearly every whip.
On peace being proclaimed, in 1856, the taste for driving once more asserted itself, and the idea was conceived of forming a new club, to take the place of the defunct B.D.C. A meeting was accordingly called, and took place in April, 1856, at 2 Hamilton Place, Piccadilly, the residence of the Marquis of Stafford, afterwards Duke of Sutherland. On that occasion there were present the Marquis of Stafford, Earl Vane, afterwards Marquis of Londonderry, William Morritt of Rokeby, Esq., the Hon. Leo Agar-Ellis, and John Loraine Baldwin, Esq. After some discussion it was determined to form a four-in-hand driving club.
At the first meeting the following rules were proposed and adopted:
1. That this Club be called the Four-in-Hand Driving Club.
2. That the Club be limited to thirty members.
3. That the Committee consist of President, Vice-President, and three members. 4. That the Committee alone have power in the election of members, and in all matters connected with the Club.
5. That during the season two days at least be appointed for a meeting of the coaches to drive down to some place for dinner.
6. That any person being absent from the Club during a whole year cease to be a member.
7. That five form a quorum of the Committee.
It was agreed that, no Subscription being necessary, there should be none to the Club.
Driving Rules to be Observed on Club Days.
1. That no coach be permitted to pass another, unless the latter be standing still, or permission has been obtained.
2. The general pace not to exceed ten miles an hour.
3. The order of starting to be arranged by lot.
4. The starting-point to be within Hyde Park. The hour 4.45 P.M.
The date of the first meeting of the coaches is not entered in the book, but Lord Stafford, Lord Henry Thynne, Captain H. S. Baillie, Royal Horse Guards, Mr. W. P. Thomhill, and Mr. W. Morritt turned out early in May, and they went to the Trafalgar at Greenwich. The second tum-out was on Whitsun Monday, May 12 - a fearfully wet day - not a soul in the Park but the three or four coaches that went. No record in the book who put in an appearance, but the President and Captain H. S. Baillie both took their coaches down, and there were two or three others in addition; the dinner took place at the Castle Hotel, Richmond. The only note is 'The badness of the dinner surpassed by the execrable wine.' We can say the weather was a match for either in point of badness. On May 24 they turned out again: the President, Vice-President, the late Lord Willoughby de Broke, Messrs. W. G. Craven, W. P. Thornhill (the late), W. Morritt (the late); and on June 5 eleven coaches, headed by the Vice-President, assembled again. On June 28 eleven coaches, the President, Vice-President, all the Committee except Lord Vane, and seven others met; and there was a last meeting of seven coaches on July 9, 1856. It was a very bad wet summer.
On May 13, 1859, the thanks of the Committee and Club were voted to the two Honorary Secretaries, and they were elected Honorary Members of the Club. In 1861, on July 5, Lord Sefton and Mr. W. P. Thornhill were added to the Committee. In 1867 Colonel Leslie, in 1870 Lord Londesborough, in 1872 Lord Aveland were also placed on the Committee. In 1873 Mr. W. Morritt, who had acted as Secretary since 1859, died, and Lord Aveland kindly undertook his duties. The Club had increased to fifty-four members, including the officers driving the coaches of the three regiments of Household Cavalry. It was now found necessary to have a subscription of 1l.. per annum to meet the expenses of police, etc., in the Park, and Lord Aveland appointed Mr. Lovegrove, who is in the Lord Great Chamberlain's office in the House of Lords, to be Secretary, since which time the irregularities in the keeping of the records have ceased, and the name of every member who turns out at the meets, or is present with his coach in the enclosures at Ascot, Lord's, or elsewhere, is duly entered. On May 18, 1874, the Earl of Macclesfield and the late Lord Wenlock were put upon the Committee. On June 24, 1874, the German Ambassador, Count Miinster, was elected a member of the Club, with which he almost invariably turned out, and to which he still belongs. In 1875, annual subscription was raised to 2l. 2s. In consequence of the very; great increase in the number of the carriages using Hyde Park during the season, H.R.H. the Duke of Cambridge, the Ranger, wrote to the Chief Commissioner of Works to say that the driving clubs when they met in the Park caused such an obstruction to the traffic that it would be advisable for him (the Commissioner, the Right Honourable Gerard Noel) to suggest their meeting elsewhere. This was after the first meet of the coaches that year. Not only the Park, but Piccadilly, St. George's Place, Grosvenor Place, and Hamilton Place were completely blocked for over an hour. Soon after June 30, it was arranged between the Board of Works, the Chief Commissioner of Police, and the Committee, that the meets should take place at 12.30 p.m. instead of at 5 p.m., and there is, in consequence, but little inconvenience on the days of meeting. As the members like, in July, to dine at the Crystal Palace on a firework night, they met on July 19, 1877, in Belgrave Square, and carried out their gathering with scarcely any crowd. Since then H.R.H. the Ranger has permitted the Club to meet, when it wishes to do so in the afternoon, on the Horse Guards Parade in St. James's Park. On June 17, 1879, the Earl of Macclesfield was elected Vice-President vice the Duke of Sutherland, who took his name off the list of members of the Club, and Viscount Castlereagh (now the Marquis of Londonderry) was added to the Committee. On June 19, the Earl of Fife was elected a member of the Committee vice Lord Wenlock resigned. On Saturday, May 12, 1883, Rule 10 was added, viz: 'That, in future, the Club shall consist of fifty members,' and it was resolved on June 12 that the subscription be raised to 3l. 3s. per annum; on May 13, 1885, the Duke of Portland was added to the Ccmmittee, in place of the Marquis of Londonderry deceased.
The following are the RULES.
1. That this Club be called The Four-in-hand Driving Club.
2. That the Committee consist of President, Vice-President, and Six Members.
3. That the Committee alone have power in the election of Members, and in all other matters connected with the Club.
4. That during the Season two days at least be appointed for the Meeting of the Coaches, to drive down to some place for dinner.
5. Any Member, by turning out with his own Coach and Horses at a Meeting of the Club, will be entitled to a Ticket for the F.H.D.C. Enclosure at Ascot, Hampton (since abolished), Lord's, etc., Tickets for which must be paid for at the time of issue.
6. Any Member who has not turned out at a Meeting of the Club during the seasons of 1872 and 1873 will not be entitled to a Ticket for the Enclosures in 1874. This will apply in future to any Member who does not turn out for two years.
7. Any Member who has not been out for two years, upon turning out at a Meeting of the Club, will again be entitled to a Ticket for the Enclosures.
8. That each Member pay an Annual Subscription of 3l. 3s. The Subscriptions to be paid to Mr. Lovegrove, 9 Halkin Street West, Belgrave Square, during the month of May; and any Member whose Subscription remains two years in arrear shall cease to be a Member of the Club.
9. That three form a quorum of the Committee.
10. That in future the Club shall consist of 50 Members only. BEAUFORT, Chairman
The uniform of the Club is brown coat and vest with gilt buttons.
In connection with the Blues old coach there is a somewhat curious story. A few years ago the regiment ordered a new coach of Messrs. Holland & Holland, who took back the old one. When that firm came to scrape the latter, it was found that she had been an old West-country Mail, and on taking off the front seat, an antiquated bird's nest was found underneath, the supposition being that the coach had at some period in her career stood in some inn yard, and that the bird had taken advantage of the circumstance to build her nest therein.
Some years later, a club on a smaller scale was established in Monmouthshire, also under the presidency of the Duke of Beaufort, their chief meet being to drive to Abergavenny Steeplechases, when the little parade made a most imposing show. Mr. Hamilton, of Hillstones, formerly in the 13th Hussars, was the originator, and the late Major Alec Rolls, Mr. Crompton-Roberts, the late Lord Raglan, Mr. Reginald Herbert, Mr. Crawshay Bailey, and one or two more were members; but death, vacancies, and change of residence among the little band, have broken it up and it has now ceased to exist. A Coaching Club has also been started at Hyderabad.
The Four-in-Hand Driving Club continued alone in its glory from the day of its foundation until 1870, by which time the four years of coaching revival had invested with greater interest the meets of the F.H.D.C, and had given a decided fillip to the taste for driving four horses. The Four-in-Hand Driving Club was both exclusive and limited in its numbers, and could not, even if its members had been so inclined, have received a quarter of the candidates upon their books. At this juncture Mr. George Goddard suggested to one or two gentlemen interested in coaching the formation of a second driving association. The idea was approved of, and the Coaching Club was established; history thus repeating itself in the formation of an overflow society. A beginning was made with fifty members; but the club became so popular, and the driving mania, as it was derisively called at the time, increased so greatly, that, in a very short time, it had quite outgrown itself, and there were no fewer than 120 on the books. This was found to be too great a number, and no fresh candidates, excepting under extraordinary circumstances, were put up for election, until retirement, and other causes, had reduced the muster-roll to one hundred. As already stated, the Coaching Club was founded in 1870, but its opening meet did not take place until Tuesday, June 27, 1871, on which day 22 coaches (a larger number, it is believed, than had ever before been seen at a driving club meet) assembled at the Marble Arch, preparatory to driving down to the Trafalgar at Greenwich for dinner. Among those who attended were the Duke of Beaufort, president; Lord Carrington, vice-president; Marquis of Downshire, Earl Poulett, Lord Cole, Lord Valentia, Colonel Armitage, Mr. Reginald Herbert, Mr. Foster, Mr. J. Harrison, Mr. Candy, and Mr. Murrieta. The uniform of the club is dark blue coat, buff waistcoat, gilt buttons with 'C.C.' engraved on them; and the following are the rules of the club, and a list of its members (1888):
1. That the Club be called The Coaching Club, and be limited to 100 Members, who will pay an Entrance Fee of 10l. 10s, and an Annual Subscription of 2l. 2s.; but, notwithstanding the above limit, the Committee shall have power, if they think it desirable, to elect in each year not exceeding three Members from the Book of Candidates.
2. That the Members be elected by the Committee, five Members to form a quorum.
3. Every Candidate for admission shall be proposed by one Member and seconded by another, and be the bona fide owner of a Coach and Four Horses. The Candidate's name, usual place of residence, rank, profession, occupation, or any other description, shall be inserted by the proposer in the Book of Candidates at least one month prior to the day of election: the Candidate must be personally known to both the proposer and seconder.
4. That the Entrance Fee and Subscription be payable in advance to the Bankers of the Club for the time being. Subscriptions to be payable on the 1st of January in each year. Any Member omitting to pay his Subscription by April 1 shall have his name erased from the List of Members.
5. That the Conmiittee consist of Twelve Members, three of whom are to retire annually in rotation; the vacancies to be filled up at the Annual General Meeting. 6. That the First Meeting of the Coaches shall take place annually on the Saturday next but one before the Derby.
7. That the Annual General Meeting of the Club shall take place during the week before the Derby. The day to be fixed by the Committee.
8. That each Regiment in the Service possessing a coach shall be entitled, on payment of Entrance Fee and Subscription, to name an annual representative, who shall enjoy all the privileges of the Club as an ex-officio Member.
9. That no coach race with or pass another belonging to the Club when driving on Meeting Days.
10. a That the Committee be empowered to make such Rules that from time to time they may consider necessary for the welfare of the Club.
11. That any Member (with the exception of ex-officio Members) not having turned out at a Meeting of Club Coaches for two years shall not be entitled to a Ticket for any of the Club Enclosures, till he again turns out
12. That the Committee shall have the power to decide any dispute arising out of irregular driving, or any other matter brought to its notice, when the Club assembles to drive to Races and other places j and that their opinion on such matters shall be accepted by the Members of the Club as final.
Each driving club has a private enclosure for itself at Ascot - the Four-in-Hand being stationed nearly opposite the Royal Stand, and the Coaching Club by the telegraph board - in each of which from twenty to thirty well-turned-out coaches are drawn up on each of the four days of the royal meeting. Private enclosures are also reserved for both clubs at Sandown Park, Kempton Park, and Lord's Cricket Ground, The meets of the coaches at the Magazine, in Hyde Park, are among the most popular sights of the whole London season. Ex-officio Members 1888.
Each club has two parades a year, the Four-in-Hand Driving Club generally meeting at the Magazine on the Wednesday before the Derby, and later in the season on the Horse Guards Parade; while the Coaching Club holds its first levee on the Saturday next but one before the Derby, and its last shortly after Ascot. This, at least, is the recognised programme, though, from unavoidable circumstances, it has of recent years been more often the exception than the rule.
The Four-in-Hand Driving Club, being much smaller and more exclusive, does not generally turn out in such large numbers as the junior club, which, on two or three occasions, has mustered over thirty. In 1880, at the meet of the F.H.D.C, twenty-two members turned out, and the same number were counted at the corresponding gathering in 1881. In 1882 the number dropped to fourteen, but rose to twenty- two again in 1886. The meets and the parades of these clubs are often patronised by the Prince and Princess of Wales, the former of whom occasionally occupies the box-seat of one of the coaches, and by other members of the Royal Family. The crowds that assemble far exceed in magnitude any others that are ever seen at any time in the Park, while the show of magnificent horses and carriages can scarcely be equalled, let alone surpassed, in the whole wide world.
Neither club has a house of its own, and on the meeting days, after the drive round the Park in parade order is over, the members generally disperse, some going down in a body to luncheon at Greenwich or Richmond, the Crystal Palace, the Hurlingham or Ranelagh Club, or elsewhere, the others merely to take a turn round the Park again. Several years ago the Road Club was established in Park Place by Major Fumivall as a home for the coaching fraternity, and at first it answered very well, kept a coach of its own for a season or two, and was a very comfortable house; but other attractions, not so innocent as the road, crept in: Major Fumivall at last left the sinking ship, and in a short time it ceased to have the remotest connection with coaching. In 1875, the late Mr. Hurman, who, when not engaged in coaching, hunting, or racing, practised as a medical man at Turnham Green, took the lease of 100 Piccadilly, and there established the Badminton Club, which was then, to all intents and purposes, a thorough coaching club, always having all the year round a coach, a break, a team or two, besides brougham, mail phaeton, etc., as well as capital stabling and coach-houses, with chambers and bedrooms kept for the use of its members. The idea of 'the Doctor' was a novel one, and most people thought at the time that he had gone mad, for to all appearances there were no available means of utilising, for the purposes of a club, the premises which had for years been occupied by a succession of horse-dealers, and consisted of about forty or fifty stalls and loose boxes. But the Doctor set to work. The front yard, where the horses used to be trotted up and down, was metamorphosed into a very pretty garden; a stable leading out of it, that had. contained five stalls and three loose boxes, was transmogrified into a smoking-room; the hayloft became the coffee-room; the com store was converted into a billiard-room; and so it was occupied until 1883, when the number of members beginning to increase rather too rapidly for the capacity of the premises, and the lease falling in, the opportunity was seized of converting the club into a company. The two next houses, 98 and 99, were secured, and a noble pile of buildings has sprung up. All the old associations, the garden in front, the stables, etc, in the rear, with all their surroundings, are kept up, and the new club-house now (1889) forms a prominent feature of Upper Piccadilly.
The institution of driving clubs has not been confined exclusively to England, as in 1875 a Four-in-Hand Club was founded in New York. The first meet took place in 1876, on which occasion six coaches turned out; but the taste for driving four horses having once taken root, flourished, as in 1878 there were nine coaches by English builders, two of Parisian make, and several of American construction. Subsequently the number rose to twenty-two; but the total has since declined.Driving Sports and Pastimes, Badminton: March, 1889. Edited by His Grace The Duke of Beaufort, K.G. Assisted by Alfred E. T. Watson.