The Orleans Club (King St)

The phrase “country club” immediately connotes the utmost pretention and affluence; to the average person, this is the location where men in nine-hundred dollar suits go to play golf and talk about their money in posh accents. While the stereotypes associated with these places are certainly not true for every member, they certainly are for Lord Henry Wotton. He says: “I can sympathise with everything except suffering…I cannot sympathise with that. It is too ugly, too horrible, too distressing” (Chapter 3). His credo is hedonistic at best and a direct result of his wealth; he especially does not sympathize with the suffering of the lower classes because they cannot afford the same self-indulgences and thus, they are deemed ugly. For Lord Henry, the “country club stereotype” holds true—he is, in fact, linked with the Orleans Club in the text. This elite club, based out of Twickenham, provided a town house on King St. (near Covent Garden) for both members as well as a non-members (for a fee).

We are not given any evidence to support whether or not Lord Henry is a member, only that he must “meet a man at the Orleans.” Either way, money is involved. If one was a member of the Twickenham Orleans Club, then the annual fee for the London Orleans Club was £8.8 (not including the £15.15 entrance fee and the £10.10 annual fee necessary for membership to Twickenham). In the year 2000, that roughly translates to £3,042 which, in 2015, is approximately $6,388. If he was not a member of the Twickenham branch but was only a member of the London branch, then he would have to pay the same annual fee of $6,388 plus the cost for each additional visit of $3,992. According to “Golf Digest,” the average cost of American country clubs is $6,245, so it follows that The Orleans Club has very high standards.

Because of the amount of money that is required to visit the Orleans club, one would imagine that it would be located in a wealthy district. According to the Charles Booth Poverty Map however, if the Orleans Club is located on King St. near Covent Gardens, it is surrounded by predominantly middle-class citizens with few poor districts interspersed throughout.

Orleans Club

This inconsistency could mean one of two things: either 1) that it could be located on a different King St. in London or 2) that it would account for the Orleans Club rule that “No person is eligible for admission who is not received in general society.” If the surrounding area was of a lower class, then rules are already in place to keep them out—coinciding completely with Lord Henry’s belief system and the classist disposition of many aristocrats. Either way, wealth is praised and poverty is admonished.


Avery, Brett. “Golf & Money: How To Join A Private Club.” Golf Digest. N.p., 12 Aug. 1012. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.

“Booth Poverty Map & Modern Map (Charles Booth Online Archive).” Booth Poverty Map & Modern Map (Charles Booth Online Archive). N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

Gaskins, Robert, and Randall C. Merris. “Calculate Modern Values Of Historic Concertina Prices.” Concertina. N.p., 1 June 2005. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.

“Orleans Club.” The Dictionary of Victorian London. Victorian Web. Web. Dec. 2015.

Wilde, Oscar. “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” Chapter 2.” – Wikisource, the Free Online Library. N.p. 1891. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

Holborn Theatre Royal

Not much research can be found if a location has gone through three name changes and had burned down 135 years ago; however, it is not the significance of the Holborn Theatre as it relates to the grand scheme of history that makes it important, but rather its importance lies in its personal history’s relation to the characters in The Picture of Dorian Grey. The theatre opened in 1866 and was built in a yard that had previously held mail-carts and post-office omnibuses. It was the first playhouse built after the Theatres Act 1843 which stated that the Lord Chamberlin could only terminate a production if he believed it to be “fitting for the preservation of good manners, decorum or of the public peace so to do”—greatly limiting the ultimate power over London theatres that he had previously possessed. Fortunately, this meant that the Lord Chamberlain was unable to close theatres for any reason concerning classism (as would occur before the Theatres Act 1843); this was especially favorable for the Holborn Theatre as it was located amongst a very poor to middle class section of London. The theatre burned down in 1880 but was never rebuilt.

It is the fire that interests me most—fire that destroyed a place of art. But for Dorian Grey, it was not a home of art; it was in a lower class neighborhood that was not rich with aesthetic beauty—he describes it as “a wretched hole of a place” (Chapter 4).

Holborn Theatre

The art for him in the Holborn Theatre was Sibyl Vane. Dorian first see Sibyl in the role of Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but the reader soon find out that she has played many a Shakespearean tragic heroin: Ophelia, Desdemona, Cordelia, etc. And like each of these characters, Sibyl dies because of a man in her life. Wilde writes, “They felt that the true test of any Juliet is the balcony scene…if she failed there, there was nothing in her” (Chapter 7). Unfortunately, her acting ability faltered and she did fail this crucial moment. Thus, Dorian falls in love with her for her art and falls out of love because of her lack of art; this causes her to commit suicide. The significance of the Holborn Theatre in all of this is that, like Sibyl, a vessel of Shakespearean drama and art is ultimately destroyed; the location most intimately linked with her also shares her fate. This poetic end (while not necessarily intentional) does add another layer of analysis to the novel and gives location a profound significance within the story.

“Booth Poverty Map & Modern Map (Charles Booth Online Archive).” Booth Poverty Map & Modern Map (Charles Booth Online Archive). N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.

“Holborn Theatre Royal – The Theatres Trust.” The Theatres Trust. The National Advisory Public Body for Theatres, n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.

Walford, Edward. ‘Red Lion Square and neighbourhood.’ Old and New London: Volume 4. London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878. 545-553. British History Online. Web. 17 December 2015.

Wilde, Oscar. “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” Chapter 2. – Wikisource, the Free Online Library. N.p. 1891. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.