SURREY’S BEST KEPT SECRET
Long regarded as one of the best kept secrets in Surrey, The County Club has been providing members, and their guests, a tranquil bolt-hole in the very heart of Guildford town centre for well over a century.
So, what goes on behind those imposing double doors at the top of the High Street?
Jane Derbyshire has been Chair of The County Club since 2020, overseeing the recent £300,000 refurbishment programme, and is the perfect person to answer all of our questions.
Tell us about The County Club?
We are a Private Members Club, formed in 1882. As you would imagine with a club of our age, there is a lot of history to the place, and over the years our membership has included business leaders, MPs, and any number of high profile local dignitaries and celebrities.
So, is it ‘frightfully posh’?
Not at all, it’s a lovely comfortable club but it certainly is not elitist, we have no political affiliations and anybody is welcome to apply for membership. In fact, it makes me smile when people say we are a well-kept secret, we have been here for more than 140 years, and until very recently our front doors were painted bright red!
We do have an informal dress code, and we expect members and their guests to show respect for their surroundings and our traditions, but that is as far as we go with the rules.
What could a visitor expect?
Well, the first thing they will receive is a very warm welcome, in a relaxed environment with convivial company.
Our 70 cover Doric Restaurant is among the finest in the area, but we also have a comfortable bar, coffee terrace, Reading Room and three good-size meeting spaces.
Are the Meeting Rooms available for non-members?
Yes. The rooms are available at reduced rates for Members, but on days when they are not in use, we welcome all sorts of meetings and events. Our largest room can comfortably seat 50 people, and our other two rooms about half this number.
We find that organisers looking for somewhere a little different, completely private and with great service, tend to use us. There are a lot of lovely meeting spaces in and around Guildford, but I think it is fair to say that there is nowhere quite like The County Club.
What’s on offer for Members?
The Club hosts a number of social events throughout the year, dinners and parties of course, but we also have a thriving events programme of talks and presentations. Many of these events raise money for local charities, and in the past we have supported such wonderful causes as Oakleaf, Real Change, Home-Start Guildford, The Meath, and Guildford Street Angels, to name but a few.
Members also enjoy access to other Private Clubs in the UK and around the world, thanks to our reciprocal arrangement with places like The Sloane Club and National Liberal Club in London, The Athenaeum in Liverpool, The Clifton Club in Bristol and The Bath and County Club. We also have relationships with The British Club in Bangkok, The Wanderers Club in Johannesburg and the world famous Jodhpur Club, in India.
How do people apply to be a member of The County Club?
We have a range of different membership types, and our fee structure is based on these, all prospective members must be proposed by an existing member, and each application is assessed on its merits.
Our website has details of applying for membership, information about meeting rooms and lots more about the history of The County Club.