Secret London: The London Thirteen Club

The London Thirteen Club was set up as an ‘antidote to superstition’ by Camberwell historian William Harnett Blanch in the 1890s.

It met on the 13th of every month in Holborn. There were thirteen dinner tables each with thirteen settings and diners wore green ties with toy skeletons in their buttonholes. Meals were served by two cross-eyed waiters, who announced dinner was to start by smashing two mirrors.

To get to the dining room, guests had to follow an undertaker underneath a ladder and then sit at tables decorated with a centrepiece featuring a black cat, peackcock feather and witch’s cauldrons. They were asked to spill salt before they could begin eating.

The club had numerous members, including leading journalists and politicans, and their membership fees were distributed to the poor of Southwark. Oscar Wilde, however, refused to join saying that ‘I love superstitions. They are the opponent of common sense.’

Despite this public flouting of superstitions, the London Thirteen Club had a very low mortality rate – only one member died, and he’d failed to pay his fees. As it was pointed out by some, ‘It is actually rather lucky to belong the Club.’ Read more here.

Happy Friday 13th, readers.

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5 responses to “Secret London: The London Thirteen Club

  1. Wonderful find. I’ve suggested a revival to Skeptics in the Pub.

  2. Excellent. I do think they rather laboured the point though!

  3. Typical Victorian sledgehammer subtlety, eh?

  4. Pingback: Friday the 13th X 3 in 2012 - SLUniverse Forums

  5. Pingback: London’s Fear Of The Number 13 | Londonist

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