Den Norske Klub was founded in 1887 on 17th May, Norway’s Constitution Day. It is the oldest club of its kind in the UK and is still an important meeting place for the Norwegian community in London.
The early years
The Klub owes its existence to a dozen young Norwegians who were celebrating their national day in a bar that year. When, at closing time, they were told they could stay only if they were representing a private club, one of the participants had the presence of mind to declare, “Well, we represent the Norwegian Club in London.” They jotted down some articles of association on a piece of paper, which they all signed, and that allowed them to carry on drinking – and the Den Norske Klub was born.
The first meetings took place every Thursday evening in a pub and the membership fee was fixed at 1 shilling per month. Most of the members were young men in their 20s who had come to London to study or to train as businessmen, particularly in shipping, and only stayed in London a few years. The resident Norwegian colony, including the older gentlemen, were at first skeptical to the Klub but became involved after about 1900. Whilst Den Norske Klub was originally formed as a gentlemens club where women were only admitted as guests at Klub dinners and balls, since 1982 the Klub welcomes women as full members. In the early years, membership varied between 20-odd to about 50 members. Today, the Klub has more than 150 fully supporting members.
The Second World War 1939-1945
For the first few decades, the Klub held its meetings and dances at a variety of hotels, inns and pubs in central locations around London. This changed in 1924, when Den Norske Klub moved to Norway House off Trafalgar Square, occupying the top three floors. This building in Cockspur Street came to play an important role during World War II, when many Norwegian institutions and government bodies were housed there. HM King Haakon VII and the members of his Norwegian government-in-exile were regular visitors to the Klub.
King Haakon VII became Den Norske Klub's first patron. His son, HM King Olav V, was honorary president from 1957 until his death in 1991. The present HM King Harald V, HM Queen Sonja, HH Princess Märtha Louise and Mr Ari Mikael Behn are honorary members of Den Norske Klub.
In 1997, Norway House was sold and Den Norske Klub moved to the Naval & Military Club, also known as the In & Out, in 2000. This was endorsed by the membership, and it was thus that in 2000 the Club came to an arrangement with the Naval and Military Club, but with Den Norske Klub maintaining its identity. The members enjoy all the facilities and amenities of the Naval and Military Club.
See here for more about Den Norske Klub