White's is a London gentlemen's club, established at 4 Chesterfield Street in 1693 by Italian immigrant Francesco Bianco (AKA "Francis White"). Originally it was established to sell hot chocolate, a rare and expensive commodity at the time (and the source of its original title of "Mrs. White's Chocolate House"). These "chocolate houses" were seen as hotbeds of dissent by Charles II, but many converted into fashionable and respectable gentlemen's clubs like White's.
As a side-business, tickets were sold there to the productions at King's Theatre and Royal Drury Lane Theatre.
In the early 18th century, White's was notorious as a gambling house and those who frequented it were known as "the gamesters of White's." Jonathan Swift referred to White's as the "bane of half the English nobility."
In 1778 it moved to numbers 37-38 St James's Street, on the east side of the street. From 1783 it was the unofficial headquarters of the Tory party, while the Whigs' Brooks's club was just down the road. A few apolitical and affable gentlemen managed to belong to both. The new architecture featured a bow window on the ground floor. In the later 18th century, the table directly in front of it became a seat of privilege, the throne of the most socially influential men in the club. This belonged to the arbiter elegantiarum, Beau Brummell, until he removed to the Continent in 1816, when Lord Alvanley took the place of honour. It was here that Alvanley bet with a friend £3,000 as to which of two raindrops would first reach the bottom of a pane of the bow window.
This was not the most eccentric bet in White's famous betting book. Some of those entries were on sports, but more often on political developments, especially during the chaotic years of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars. A good many were social bets, such as whether a friend would marry this year, or whom.
In the later 1970s, the exterior was painted azure with white trim.
One former club chairman was Ian Cameron, the father of the current British Prime Minister, David Cameron.
Famous quotes containing the word white:
“And then, the negro being doomed, and damned, and forgotten, to everlasting bondage, is the white man quite certain that the tyrant demon will not turn upon him too?”
—Abraham Lincoln (18091865)
“No other group in America has so had their identity socialized out of existence as have black women.... When black people are talked about the focus tends to be on black men; and when women are talked about the focus tends to be on white women.”
—bell hooks (b. c. 1955)