Judi Dench And Siân Phillips Welcomed Into The Garrick Club

After analyzing the club’s rules, senior judges found that there was nothing in the constitution that prevents women from becoming members.

Founded in 1831, the Garrick Club is one of the oldest private members’ clubs in the world. For almost 200 years, the club has only had male members, from politicians and royalty to actors and businessmen.

In May 2024, the members voted to allow women to join the institution, with about 60% in favor of it. After analyzing the club’s rules, senior judges found that there was nothing in the constitution that prevents women from becoming members.

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In BBC Radio’s Today program, former culture minister Lord Vaizey said that the Garrick is a “convivial place where people go and have lunch and dinner, and that’s as valid for women as it is for men.”

Opening the doors

Judi Dench and Siân Phillips are the first women to be welcomed into the club. In the past, women weren’t allowed inside the club unless they were accompanied by a male member.

Sian Phillips
Siân Phillips | Image via Wikimedia Commons

The actors’ memberships were fast-tracked, as the process can usually take around two to five years. According to the club’s rules, the general committee may elect four members each year in consideration of their public eminence or distinction.

Other nominated prospective members include classicist Mary Beard, former home secretary Amber Rudd, and Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman.

Distinguished women

At 89 years old, Dench has garnered her fair share of accolades. These include an Academy Award, a Tony Award, two Golden Globe Awards, four British Academy Television Awards, and more.

The actor made her professional debut in 1957 with the Old Vic Company, where she performed in several Shakespeare plays. Her first film project was The Third Secret, released in 1964.

The following year, she won her first major award, a BAFTA for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles. She received the award for her performance in Four in the Morning.

Judi Dench
Judi Dench | Image via Wikimedia Commons

From stage to screen, from Cabaret to James Bond, Dench has grown into a universally acclaimed actor and a household name.

91-year-old Phillips also began in theater, where she starred in plays such as Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler and George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan.

Her decades-long career has a long list of films and television programs. One of her most notable roles is Livia in BBC’s I, Claudius. Her performance won her a Best Actress BAFTA in 1976.

Phillips is also well-known for her roles as Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam in David Lynch’s Dune (1984) and Charal from Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985).

Both actors have been appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Dench in 1988 and Phillips in 2016.

Banner image via Wikimedia Commons.

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