email@example.com | Office 01525 841736 Bar 01525 403321
37 Church St, Ampthill, Beds, MK45 2PL
The Wingfield Club occupies one of Ampthill’s finest and most imposing Georgian houses built in about 1742 by Mrs Catherine Coppin, a clergyman’s widow, on an impressive site at the brow of a slight hill in Church Street. Little is known of Mrs Coppin and nothing of the designer of her house, other than that he must have been a person of considerable capability and skill. The portico, on classical pillars, is carried the three storeys of the façade with great effect from the outside and interesting views from within. From the entrance hall a magnificent staircase rises the full height of the house and the landings retain original panelling.
Extensive remodeling of the ground floor to adapt the building for its modern use has meant the loss of almost all the original work except two paneled walls and the fireplace of one room. A fine bow-windowed Regency drawing room at first floor level, which led directly onto the garden is now a conference room, whilst the Victorian billiard room, also at first floor level, has been lowered to become part of the games room in the bar. In the 1980’s lounge (with offices above) was converted out of the original coach house and stables of Mrs. Coppin’s house – and those had been created out of a 17th century timber-framed house.
Between 1848 and 1850 the Revd Charles Cavendish Bentinck, vicar of Ridgmont, lived here (his grand-daughter became Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother) but in 1881 the property was purchased by Mrs Sophia Wingfield of Ampthill House (which used to stand near the site of Brinsmade Road cul-de-sac) and was named Foulislea in honour of the Revd Sir Henry Foulis, guardian of her children. In the early years of the 20th century Mrs Wingfield’s son Anthony (he was knighted in 1937) kept a menagerie in the combined grounds of Ampthill House and Foulislea which attracted a wide interest from some very eminent people including members of the British and foreign royal families, some of whom made regular visits. Foulislea was at the time used as accommodation by the zookeepers.
The club was founded in 1920 as part of Ampthill’s war memorial and was known as the United Services Club since it was under the auspices of the United Services Fund. The war memorial in the Alameda was unveiled on 17th May 1921, by Queen Victoria’s daughter the Princess Beatrice, who visited the club and formally declared it open on the same day, the first members having been enrolled the previous November.
The United Services Association was wound up in 1947 when the club became independent, taking its name from its president and landlord Sir Anthony Wingfield. He died in 1952, when the Wingfield Club was able to purchase the premises in which it still flourishes.