London: Prince's Racquets and Tennis Club You can print this page -- Click for printer-friendly version
Prince's Racquets and Tennis Club
185? Prince's Racquets and Tennis Club (Hans Place)
   George and James Prince (Proprs)
1860 Prince's Racquets and Tennis Club (Hans Place)
   George and James Prince (Proprs)
   Turkish baths opened
1864 Prince's Racquets and Tennis Club (Hans Place)
   Prince's Racquets & Tennis Club Company Limited (Proprs)
1885 Prince's Racquets and Tennis Club (Hans Place)
   Prince's Racquets & Tennis Club Company Limited (Proprs)
   Club closed on expiry of lease
    
1889 Prince's Racquets and Tennis Club (Knightsbridge)
   Prince's Racquets & Tennis Club Company Limited (Proprs)
   New clubhouse opened 18 May 1889
1939 Prince's Racquets and Tennis Club (Knightsbridge)
   Prince's Racquets & Tennis Club Company Limited (Proprs)
   Club closed
1940 Building requisitioned during the war and later demolished
  In the above chronology, information has been taken from sources detailed in the following footnote: 1

Although the Prince of Wales was a member of this exclusive sporting club, it was actually named after its founders, George and James Prince, who opened it some time in the 1850s. Its original premises off Hans Place in Knightsbridge included racquets and tennis courts, and a cricket pitch which was, for a time, the home of the Middlesex County Cricket Club.

The Prince brothers were interested in racehorse training and it seems likely that it was through Admiral Rous, who advocated the use of Turkish baths in the training of racehorses, that they decided to build a ‘handsome and commodious’ bath at their club.1 Nothing more is known about this bath except that Thomas Gibson Bowles, who was to become a director of the London Hammam, was a club member and probably bathed there.

On the expiry of its lease, the club closed in 1885,  but was reconstituted the following year and moved into Humphrey’s Hall opposite the Hyde Park Barracks. The Hall was extensively converted into a clubhouse and sports centre, and much more is known about the club's second Turkish bath.  The conversion was carried out by Peto Brothers, builders, to the design of architect Edward Herbert Bourchier (fl. 1881-1926). The new building was ceremoniously opened by the Prince of Wales on 18 May 1889.

Smeaton adThe ‘elegantly constructed’ Turkish bath was decorated by the Sicilian artist Emilio Marolda assisted by a number of Italian artists. There was also a Russian vapour bath, a sitz bath, a needle shower, and hot and cold water baths. The plunge pool was lined with blue mosaic finished with a brass capping and, for use by the Prince of Wales, there was a private bath constructed ‘entirely of marble’. The fittings were supplied by John Smeaton, Son, & Co who specialised in furnishing the better class Turkish baths of the day.2

Prince’s Club survived until just before the second world war when the building was requisitioned for the war effort. It was later demolished.


Thank you icon

Neil Robinson, Library & Research Manager, Marylebone Cricket Club