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Bullingdon Club: Five Facts About The Super-Rich, Elite Oxford University Drinking Club

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BULLINGDON CLUB
Charles Cecil Cotes, the album compiler, is standing at far left. Standing at back in the corner with arms folded is Archibald Philip Primrose, the 5th Earl of Rosebery, who went on to become prime minister in 1894. Probably the richest prime minister. | John Bowen via Getty Images
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The Bullingdon Club has a 'rich' history, spanning more than 200 years. Yet it has recently become notorious for very wealthy students from Oxford University trashing restaurants and participating outlandish, criminal behaviour.

On Monday, David Cameron, who used to be a member of the elite drinking club, faced political embarrassment after allegations of drug use, debauchery and "bizarre rituals" during his time at university were published in a new book by Lord Michael Ashcroft.

Described as a "toffs' brat pack", other big name former members of the "elite dining society" include London Mayor Boris Johnson, Chancellor George Osborne and BBC broadcaster David Dimbleby, who insisted wearing its uniform was nothing to be ashamed of.

"I loved being elected to the Bullingdon Club and I'm very proud of the uniform that I can still get into," Dimbleby told the Radio Times in 2013 of the club's clothes.

According to The Week, the official uniform is estimated to cost around £3,500.

Forget 'Chipping Snorton', Young David Cameron Was The Man Who Could Have Legalised Drugs

Call Me Dave makes a series of allegations against the Prime Minister, including his time in the club.

Here, we look at the five things we do know about the Bullingdon Club.

  • 1
    Members hold bizarre initiation ceremonies
    EncroVision via Getty Images
    As with many university clubs, an initiation is required in order to join its ranks. In 2013, it was reported that members of the Bullingdon Club were required to burn a £50 note in front of a beggar as part of an “initiation ceremony”. The Daily Mirror reported that a friend of one of the club's members revealed the prank to the student newspaper.
  • 2
    They trash pubs and restaurants
    Heiko Küverling via Getty Images
    In 2004, it was reported that a country pub near Oxford was wrecked by members of the Bullingdon Club. A group of students smashed 17 bottles of wine, every piece of crockery and a window at the 15th Century White Hart pub in Fyfield, near Oxford. The BBC reports that the landlord, Ian Rogers, said the ringleader claimed to be from the Bullingdon Club. Four of the group were arrested, spent a night in the cells, and fined £80. The Telegraph quotes Mr Rogers as saying: "It was totally bizarre. They were extremely well-dressed and well-to-do young men. I assumed they had all gone to Eton or Winchester by the way they spoke. But they just erupted and smashed everything up, shouting, swearing and attacking each other. It was like a drinking club mixed with a fight club. I called the police and threw them out." The Mirror quoted a former Etonian. who went by the name of 'Edward' in order to protect his identity. Edward said: “One night we started drinking the finest whisky and port. Then we went to an Indian restaurant. The restaurateur couldn’t believe his eyes when the Bullingdon arrived so smartly dressed. But by the end the man was crying into his hands – we caused £10,000 of damage. It was f***ing carnage." He called it "posh hooliganism" and said they paid £10,000 that night to buy the restaurateur’s silence.
  • 3
    It's misogynistic
    themacx via Getty Images
    Rumours of sexism in the all-male club have circulated for some time. With most of the men in the Bullingdon Club coming from all-male boarding schools, their attitudes towards women has been scrutinised. In a piece penned by Barney Ronay in The Guardian, called "Young, rich and drunk", he writes: "Then there's the Bullingdon's committed and longstanding misogyny. It's not just the all-male exclusivity, more the tales of hiring strippers to preside at the initiation of new members at the annual breakfast. Plus the trapped, frantic and vaguely sexual energy of the whole thing. The Bullingdon is simply a no-go area for women. These are teenagers almost exclusively from an all-male boarding school background. It's no real surprise that some of the naive, hostile and retarded attitudes fostered there resurface at a university reunion. You just have to hope they grow out of it."
  • 4
    Members like to drink. A lot.
    Brand New Images via Getty Images
    The club was founded in 1780 as a hunting and sporting club, but is now better known for being a drinking and dining society. Presenter, David Dimbleby, lambasted Boris Johnson for his "disgraceful" behaviour during his time in the Bullingdon Club. Dimbleby, who was once a member of the club, said that the mayor, David Cameron and George Osborne had turned the 200-year-old group from a well behaved gentleman's club into a riotous organisation. He said: "We never broke any windows or got wildly drunk. It was a completely different organisation from what it became when Boris Johnson, David Cameron and George Osborne joined," adding: "We never did these disgusting, disgraceful things that Boris did."
  • 5
    It inspired the film The Riot Club
    Dave Hogan via Getty Images
    In 2014, 'The Riot Club' was released in cinemas. The film, which was adapted from Laura Wade's 2010 play 'Posh' follows the lives of two new university students at Oxford University. Both boys become members of the elite drinking club, which has been linked to the Bullingdon Club. The film's director, Lone Scherfig, said: “Laura’s play is inspired by the Bullingdon Club but you won’t recognise any contemporary politicians in my film.”
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