Rare glimpse at one of Liverpool’s oldest private clubs

Rare glimpse at one of Liverpool's oldest private clubs

You would never know this grand old club sits just metres away from Primark

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These photos offer a rare glimpse inside one of Liverpool’s best kept secrets – an old members' club that's hidden just above some of the city's busiest shops.

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Like something out of a Harry Potter film, this historic club is tucked away right under the nose of the thousands of shoppers usually walking up and down Church Street.

But despite existing so close to one of the city's busiest thoroughfares, most people aren't even aware this secret club even exists.

The Athenaeum private members’ club is hundreds of years old and filled with rare treasures – including one book valued at more than £250,000.

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Founded more than 200 years ago in 1797, the club has been based on Church Alley since 1927 – and it’s grand rooms have acted as the backdrop for a number of film and TV settings.

ITV’s hit drama Cilla, staring Sheridan Smith, filmed some scenes in The Athenaeum, but outsiders aren't normally allowed into the building unless it's to hire the venue for a special event.

The club holds a private dining room for members who pay an annual subscription fee to qualify for the benefits of Athenaeum membership.

So how much does it cost to get access to this stunning club?

Membership fees are staggered based on age, ranging from £195 per year for 18-29 years olds, right the way up to £795 per year for members aged 40 and over.

The Athenaeums's historic library, which looks like it’s been plucked straight out of Hogwarts, is easily the most impressive room in the club – and visitors come from around the world to explore the treasures tucked away inside.

One copy of the Magna Carta from 1282 which is kept hidden in the vaults of the club library is worth in excess of £250,000.

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The Athenaeum was originally created to allow business people to get the news from Fleet Street as quickly as possible – and the historic news room is still running today (complete with a fully stocked bar).

Despite being a private members’ club, The Athenaeum has made moves in recent years to open itself up to the public.

Non-members can now get married at the secret location – with a full silver service wedding breakfast and a disco in the historic newsroom.

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The Athenaeum also offers building tours, as well as opening its doors up to school children and students who are given the chance to explore the great library.

However, amid the coronavirus outbreak, The Athenaeum was forced to close until May 4, with the date for re-opening being regularly reviewed by the club.

And while the club is a calm and civilised haven in the busy city centre, it also hosts film nights, quizzes, concerts and talks arranged throughout the year.

  1. Inside The Athenaeum's famous newsroom

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  2. The library inside the Athenaeum

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  3. Members pay up to £795 per year to access the benefits of The Athenaeum

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  4. The Athenaeum's newsroom was originally created so members could get the news from Fleet Street as quickly as possible

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  5. The newsroom has a fully stocked bar

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  6. Visitors come from around the world to see the treasures kept in this library

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  7. The library is full of rare books

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  8. Many of the books in The Athenaeum's library are donated by members

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  9. The library at The Athenaeum looks like it was plucked out of a Harry Potter book

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  10. This fabulous library is tucked away just off Church Street

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  11. The Library at the Athenaeum is filled with historic and valuable books

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  12. People can get married in the library at The Athenaeum

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  13. Inside Liverpool's Athenaeum members' club

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  14. The stunning entrance of private members club The Athenaeum

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  15. Members of the public can book tours of this historic private members' club

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  16. All sorts of treasures are hidden in the stacks at The Athenaeum

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  17. The grand staircase inside The Athenaeum

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