Money. Power. Time. What more could you ask for, right? It sounds like a luxurious life, one that most of us strive to achieve. But what would you do with it all? Travel? Spend time with your loved ones? You’d like to think than an endless trail of happiness and positivity would then follow. But that’s not what the Hellfire Club was known for. Instead of helping others or sharing their riches, their days consisted of activities that would repel and terrify the public…
The first known official Hellfire Club was founded in 1718 in London, England by Philip, Duke of Wharton, along with others in high society. But the one that is most notorious was established later in 1749 until around 1760 or 1766. Other clubs that followed were mostly formed in Ireland and were under many different names. They gave way to darkness and secrecy by gentlemen from the upper class. This included men apart of Parliament, Lords, military officers, and others with highly admired positions. They lacked morals and boundaries, seeing what they could get by with, which was actually a lot given their status and privileges.
The Hellfire Club was often associated with satanic rituals, murder, human sacrifice, and it’s said they made deals with the devil and often left an open seat at their meetings – an open invitation for Satan himself.
During the Enlightenment, many wondered about the club’s religious affiliations but what they would do was basically mock religion. When Philip Wharton started the Hellfire Club, it was all about drinking and debauchery and they were skeptical of Christianity. They would dress like monks and Biblical characters and it was this that authorities really had a problem with. Wharton’s club was shut down in 1721 due to ‘blasphemy and profaneness’.
Another club creator named Sir Francis Dashwood grew a bitter hatred for the Roman Catholic Church when he was in Italy even before his club, ‘Knights of Sir Francis of Wycombe’ and hired artists to do sacrilegious paintings of himself. He founded his club (never named the Hellfire Club as it was given much later) in 1746 and meetings would include activities of inappropriate nature, drinking, and wenching. They would often sacrifice to deities Bacchus and Venus and Dashwood’s garden contained statues and shrines of numerous gods.
Irish Hellfire Club Member Henry Barry, Lord Santry liked to add murder to the list. He apparently had a servant, for when he became sick and bedridden, Santry forced a quart of Brandy down his throat then lit him on fire. Another similar incident occurred when – during a Hellfire Club meeting in Dublin – he made a man drink Brandy as it filled his stomach, then set him ablaze as well.
Another incident caught more attention. When someone laughed at Santry, he stabbed a tavern employee with a strike of his sword. While he bribed his way out of trouble, it was only a temporary fix as he was eventually put on trial. And though he was found guilty, he was pardoned because of his wealth as he threatened to cut off Dublin’s drinking water.
Speaking of drinking, alcohol was passed between the members as they spent a lot of their time drunk. They would usually start their meetings with a drink called scaltheen (whiskey, butter, pepper, and sugar). Another member named Richard Chappel Whaley had an odd, infatuation with fire, landing him the nickname, ‘Burn-Chapel.’
This Irish Hellfire Club used a ruined, abandoned building in Montpelier Hill in Dublin for their wild behavior and satanic practices. The building was damaged by a fire that Richard Chappel Whaley started when he poured brandy on someone and set them on fire for then it spread throughout the building and killed other members. (But there are plenty of other stories as to why the building burned.) After, they migrated to the Stewards House nearby for a short time.
In 1771, the Irish Hellfire Club was revived for another thirty years and they again used Montpelier Hill to carry on their dark doings. It’s even rumored that they kidnapped a farmer’s daughter then murdered and ate her… The club died along with most notorious member after he repented then passed in 1800.
Those apart of these mischievous clubs were brutal, unforgiving drinkers who had zero remorse or guilt and got away with a whole lot. They did whatever they want to whoever they wanted and because of their status, they were untouchable.
People visit today as the name Hellfire Club became the most popular name for the building. Attached to it are rumors of demonic manifestations because of former club activities as people attribute paranormal events to this location, notably haunted by a black cat which was actually the club’s mascot.
Would you visit the Hellfire Club?
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Disclaimer: The information above is a combination of prior knowledge and research. No works were plagiarized, only referenced as a source of information. While anyone is welcome to comment, I attempt to make this a positive and friendly community where we can share our experiences. Any derogatory or negative comment(s) will be deleted. As always, reader discretion is advised.