The Braintree & Bocking Constitutional Club exists to provide an opportunity for like-minded people to enjoy a wide range of social activities. Formed in 1894, the Club moved into the Great House in 1912. The Club is affiliated to the Association of Conservative Clubs.
The Great House, located in the centre of Braintree includes two ground floor bars, function room, snooker room, cellar, small garden, and a three-bedroom apartment on the top floor.
The Great House is held in Trust for the Members and the Club is managed by a General Committee elected by the members in accordance with the Club rules. This, comprises six officers, president, chairman, two vice-chairs, treasurer and secretary, and 8 committee members.
Events and Functions
A programme of social events is organised and promoted by individuals for the benefit of members. The programme includes tribute acts, quizzes, BBQ’s, long weekends away, days out, visits to the theatre, trips to the dogs and horse racing. Any member can offer to arrange and manage a function.
In addition to being used on a regular basis by The Lions, British Legion, Young Rotarians, Outdoor Pursuits Club, Friday Club, and the Association of Beekeepers, the function room is available for hire to members for christenings, birthday parties, weddings, anniversaries, and wakes.
The Club employs a full-time steward who lives on the premises. The Steward is responsible for day to day operations and the smooth running of the Club. His duties include but are not limited to management and cleanliness of the cellar, bars, and kitchen. Full details of duties and responsibilities are incorporated in his Contract of Employment.
The Great House
In 1645 Charles I was on the throne and the Civil War was raging throughout the country. Braintree was within the Parliamentarian area held by the Roundheads and in June 1645, the decisive Battle of Naseby took place just 100 miles away. The Parliamentarian New Model Army commanded by Sir Thomas Fairfax and Sir Oliver Cromwell inflicted a heavy defeat on the Royalists. Could it be that a brighter future was seen in Braintree where three cottages still standing today, were built that year? Within a year, Cromwell had won the first civil war.
Some 60 years later Dr Benjamin Allen, a physician, naturalist, and friend of John Ray, bought all three cottages to create a family home and his surgery. John Ray, the great naturalist who published so many important works, was probably one of the doctor’s regular dinner guests.
Later in the nineteenth century the Great House was created when three storeys and a cellar were attached to the front of the cottages. However, many original features of the cottages were retained and have been preserved. They are still visible today both inside & outside the Great House. These features together with the Victorian architecture are considered to be of special interest having been awarded the prestigious Grade ll* listed status.
In 1912, the property was purchased by Braintree & Bocking Constitutional Club Property Ltd for £2,400.
The house was gifted to the Club in December 1947 by four members of the local gentry who wanted a place for gentlemen to meet socially and so it remained until 2004 when the rules were changed to allow female members.
What is a Constitutional Club?
The Association of Conservative Clubs was formed in 1894 to assist and encourage the formation of Clubs which would support the principles and aims of The Conservative Party. Such clubs can vary from Conservative Working Men’s Clubs to more prestigious clubs known as Constitutional Clubs. Significantly, the Constitutional Clubs are under no obligation to contribute to the Conservative Party funds. Our Club was formed the previous year, the same year that Harold MacMillan was born, Tower Bridge was opened to traffic, and Coca-Cola was sold in bottles for the first time.