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Savage Club

A bohemian club in the style of the London club of the same name, the Melbourne Savage Club was established on 9 May 1894 for the appreciation of music, art, drama, science and literature. Having previously resided in Queen's Walk, the Savages moved into 12 Bank Place in 1925. The previous tenant of the Savages' establishment in Bank Place was wealthy pastoralist Sir Rupert Clarke. The club's name derives from the 18th-century English poet Richard Savage, not from the many tribal artefacts on the walls and ceiling of the colonial Georgian/Regency-style building. The most famous artefact is a 2000-year-old human skull, which was uncovered at Heliopolis in the presence of Yoricker Stanley Argyle, who subsequently sent it on to the Yorick Club in 1915, the Yorick Club being absorbed into the Savage Club in 1966. The club attracted mainly businessmen and professionals, but like the Yorick Club, it also brought together artists and bohemians, as well as lawyers, businessmen and politicians. Famous members include Billy Hughes (Australian prime minister during World War I), Sir Robert Menzies, who joined in 1925 and served as club president from 1947 until 1962, and artists Tom Roberts, Fred McCubbin and John Longstaff. Legend has it that before the 1936 Melbourne Cup, club member George Dickenson dreamed that Wotan won at 100-1. He backed it successfully the next day at the races, and that night at Bank Place became legendary for its luxury in food and wine. It was said that there were two rules at the Savage Club in the early days: no talk of business and no women.

Sally Ruljancich

Johnson, Joseph, Laughter and the love of friends: a centenary history of the Melbourne Savage Club 1894-1994 and a history of the Yorick Club 1868-1966, Melbourne Savage Club, Melbourne, 1994. Details