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Guildford’s County Club Appoints First Female Chair

Published on: 19 Apr, 2021
Updated on: 22 Apr, 2021

Jane Derbyshire, County Club Chair

The 139-year-old County Club at the top of Guildford High Street has appointed its first female chairperson.

It wasn’t until 1999, not long after the new chair Jane Derbyshire joined the club and was invited to stand for the board, that both ladies and gentlemen were given equal rights.

Having taken over from Richard Middlehurst, Ms Derbyshire said: “I moved to Guildford over 30 years ago with my husband and we have brought up our four children here.

“I have been fortunate to meet so many interesting people from all across the country through The County Club. It’s been such an enriching experience and I am proud to have been appointed as the first female chairman.”

Said to be one of Guildford’s best-kept secrets, the County Club was formed in 1882 as a gentleman’s club with 120 male members.

Image: The County Club in the 1930s

According to the club website: “The original County Club building, built by Joseph Pickstone in 1800, was probably intended as a gentleman’s residence, as domestic properties were a feature of the High Street until the early twentieth century.

“Charles Dodgson’s nephew was a member (recorded 1905) which influences the number of Lewis Carrol references around the Club.”

By the end of the Second World War, there were 106 lady members, although they had restricted privileges; they could not use the library or front staircase and had to enter via the tradesmens’ entrance.

It wasn’t until 1999, not long after Jane joined the club and was invited to stand for the board, that both ladies and gentlemen were given equal rights.

“There was a refurbishment around that time but I remember the demarcation before that – the separate ladies’ and men’s bar,” explains Jane. “It’s been a gradual process but a very successful integration – the club has come a long way since the early days and has moved with the times.”

The Carrol Conference Suite Image: The County Club

A spokesperson for the club said:  “With a growing membership of over 350 men and women, the club’s ethos remains very much the same as it did when it was founded almost 140 years ago – as a comfortable town centre space where professionals of all ages can meet.

The Club is preparing to re-open to members for outside lunches from April 12, Jane hopes to encourage a younger audience to make the most of the benefits membership of the club offers.

Se said: “I think there’s a real gap in the market for a place in Guildford where young professionals can get together,” she says. “The County Club is a fantastic oasis in the town centre. I hope more people look to take advantage of the many opportunities it can bring, as so many others have for well over a century.”

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Responses to Guildford’s County Club Appoints First Female Chair

  1. Alan Cooper Reply

    April 20, 2021 at 2:01 pm

    Delighted to learn that Jane Derbyshire has been appointed Chair of the County Club. She has done much for The County Club since being on the board especially behind the scenes including many fundraising evenings for the benefit of the local community.

    Congratulations to her and I wish her every success during the forthcoming year.

  2. Bill Stokoe Reply

    April 23, 2021 at 8:47 am

    Yes – good luck, Jane! The Club is in good hands.

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