5. The Hell-Fire Club
Originally called “The order of the Friars of St. Francis of Wycombe”, the Hell-Fire Club was founded by Sir Francis Dashwood in the 1740s. Earlier mentions of other Hell-Fire Clubs date back two decades, but none were as large or as important as this one. The 18th century was a time when Britain ruled over a quarter of the world. And so, many young nobles within the country had lots of money to spend. Free time to spare was to be had but were only encumbered by the Christian way of living.
At first, there were only 12 members at the club who began having their meetings at the abandoned abbey of Medmenham. These initial members named themselves after the twelve apostles with Sir Francis playing Jesus. During their gatherings at the abbey, which they adorned with pornographic frescoes and indecent stained glass windows, they would make a mockery of the Christian mass and traditions. After these “rituals’ were over they would indulge themselves with alcohol and prostitutes which wore masks and nuns costumes. After rumors about the club and its activities had spread, they had to change venue in a series of caves on Sir Francis’ country estate of West Wycombe Park.
These rumors also brought a great number of new followers, some of the most famous being: The Earl of Sandwich (who the sandwich is named after), Thomas Potter (son of the Archbishop of Canterbury), William Hogarth (the famous painter) and John Wilkes. Others who were not members but occasionally took part in the orgies were Prince Fritz (Prince of Wales) and Benjamin Franklin (friends with Francis Dashwood).
With the coronation of King George III of England in 1760, he put most members of the club in extremely high places within the British Government, ensuring the Hell-Fire Club’s existence. By 1781 with the death of Sir Francis Dashwood, the club stopped functioning, showing that only old age could make it obsolete.