Oxford University's Most Infamous Secret Society Is Up To Its Old Tricks Again


Photo: Tejvan at Flickr

Oxford University’s most infamous private society, the Bullingdon Club, is making headlines again after a student reported to be a member set off fireworks in a nightclub.The incident took place last week at a Oxford nightclub called “The Bridge”, popular with Oxford students.

One witness described the incident to Oxford university’s independent newspaper, the Cherwell:

“[I saw] a flare-like firework fall into the corridor towards Anuba [an adjacent ‘pre-bar’ to Bridge]. It fizzed for a bit and then zipped off – there was lots of smoke but I didn’t hear anything. I then saw two guys dragged out and interrogated by who I think was the owner of Bridge.”

The two men were later identified as Oxford university undergraduates Orme Alexander Clarke and Felix Goodman and fined by police, according to reports.

In a new twist this week, the Oxford Student has identified Clarke as a member of the Bullingdon Club, which is almost certainly the most infamous student society in the UK, and seen by many to represent the most worst of the UK’s class system

Some history: the club is rumoured to have existed since the 18th century. Today it is known to be extremely small (reports say no more than a dozen members at any one time) and exclusively male. While there is no membership fee, being a member is incredibly expensive because of the club’s two calling cards; formal, tailor-made uniforms, and the ritual of trashing expensive restaurants after extravagent, booze-fuelled feasts (the group pays for the damage on the spot).

The society became a household name in the UK after a photo of three of the country’s most important people — Prime Minister David Cameron, London Mayor Boris Johnson, and Chancellor George Osborne — wearing the Bullingdon Club’s elaborate uniforms appeared in the press a few years ago.

Clarke and Goodman’s recent fireworks display seems to be par for the course for the club. However, the Oxford Student offered a fascinating glimpse into the club’s initiation process with a quote from an acquaintance of Clarke.

“He described them as involving him having to burn a £50 ($75) note in front of a tramp (homeless person),” the acquaintance explained.

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