Since its foundation in 1928, the British Club of The Hague has welcomed newcomers to the Netherlands, as well as longer-term residents. We understand the challenges of moving to a new country: many Members have experienced this themselves.
Although the Club has already celebrated its ninetieth birthday with a season of innovative and memorable special events, it moves with the times. Members organise an annual programme which is designed to interest, amuse, and inspire. You can see details on other pages, but in a nutshell:
Readers’ Group – Topical Discussion Group – Cultural visits – Film Group – Bridge – Mahjong – Talks – Crafts Mornings – Antiques visits – Games Mornings.
The Club selects a Charity each year, with the aim of raising funds specifically for this one organisation during the year. Our Autumn Market in November is our main fund-raising event, and attracts artisan stallholders from around the region.
Twice a year, in June and December, we hold a special Lunch when Members’ guests are also welcome. These events have a traditional ambience and are deservedly popular.
A Brief History of the British Club of The Hague
The British Women’s Club was founded in 1928 when thirty women decided to form a club for British women living in The Netherlands. Before the Second World War the British Women’s Club was primarily a luncheon club, meeting at monthly luncheons held at venues such as Restaurant Royal and Hotel Twee Steden in The Hague. The library was started in 1939 in a room on the fourth floor of the Damesleesmuseum on Lange Voorhout, but this had to be closed when the German occupation began in May 1940. The committee decided to close the club for the duration of the war; in 1946 the club was revived by members of the original committee and soon had over 200 members.
From its inception the BWC raised money for good causes – the earliest beneficiaries were the two British Seamen’s Missions in Rotterdam. Since then the club has raised money for more than 110 charities, both in The Netherlands and abroad, and continues to do so to this day.
In 1951 the library and regular luncheon venue was moved to the Park Hotel on the Molenstraat, where the club met until 1960. Lunches were also held in other restaurants including the Kurhaus, Hotel des Indes and Restaurant Royal. Club activities included: excursions; talks and demonstrations; courses; children’s parties; teas; coffee mornings; charity sales; fashion shows; balls and other evening events; choir; bridge drives; play-readings; and (children’s) sports activities. Some club activities have ‘spread their wings’ – such as the Cecilia International Choir, which started life in 1976 as the British Women’s Club Choir.
The BWC had a number of different meeting places over the years; in 1960 the club rented one room for the library above the ‘Arbeid Adelt’ shop on Noordeinde 92. However, with a membership of 699 and a limit of 25 persons in the clubroom at any one time, a move was made in 1975 to a suite of rooms above the Bruna bookshop at Passage 61, the site of the present Novotel. The club then moved to four rooms on the top floor of Sociëteit de Witte, Plein 24, its home from 1986 to 2008.
In 2006 the British Women’s Club became the British Club of The Hague and now admitted men as members. In 2008 the BCH decided to leave De Witte and, for the next three years, found a welcoming home with the American Women’s Club in Scheveningen. But, in 2011, when the AWC decided to sell their clubhouse, the BCH moved to its present meeting place – the Pastoral Centre of the English Speaking International Roman-Catholic Parish in Bezuidenhout.
Our Dutch Launching Place: a History of the British (Women’s) Club of the Hague from 1928, is available in the club library.