Throughout history men have formed clandestine clubs where rich young aristocrats met and indulged in drunken orgies, gambling and carousing. But few clubs have attained so much notoriety as the Hellfire Clubs established in Britain and Ireland in the 18th century.
The original Hellfire Club was founded in London in 1718 by the Duke of Wharton, a licentious character who was said to lead two lives—one a “man of letters” and the other “a drunkard, a rioter, an infidel and a rake.” The club was more of a satire meant to mock religion and generally shock the outside world. The members called themselves devils and partook in dishes like “Holy Ghost Pie”, “Breast of Venus”, and “Devil's Loin”.
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“A Rake's Progress—Tavern Scene“ by William Hogarth, circa 1730s.