Staging death, Victorian style

When Palmerston, Prime Minister from 1855-8, and 1859-65, died, in 1865, White’s, Boodle’s and Brookes’s clubs in St James’s all covered the front of their buildings in black drapery.

The Reform club, however, topped that: it covered its street frontage with ‘a sable curtain, bearing a viscount’s coronet and the letter ‘P’, with yellow wreaths of immortelles tastefully festooned…and the pillars and balustrades dressed in black and white’.

Can we see any London clubs even contemplating, say, lowering a flag or drawing their blinds for Mrs Thatcher, much less Tony Blair — or John Major? Street-theatre is not what it was…