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Isla St. Clair: Musical Memories of Home

Close your eyes, and think of Scotland. It’s a land of majestic natural beauty, of ancient and fascinating cities, of inventive and friendly people, and of a million other delights to all the senses. It’s also a country with one of the strongest, proudest, and most evocative musical traditions on earth, and for Scotsmen and women everywhere, the lilting ballads, feisty dances, and the irresistible power of the pipes are engraved upon their hearts, and never anything but an utter joy to encounter.

Over the centuries, Scotland has produced many of the most talented and timeless musicians, singers, and folk artists that have ever graced a stage. Imbued with a natural romanticism, and possessed of an ability to weave stories through song, they’ve contributed so much to Scottish cultural identity and a sense of being. Among the finest of the Scottish folk singers, we find the unique talent and stage presence that is Isla St. Clair; folk singer extraordinaire, and bonafide Scottish celebrity whose performances never fail to bring a reel to the legs and a patriotic tear to the eye.

Singing Songs as Old as the Hills

When Isla St. Clair takes to the stage, she brings centuries of heritage with her. Few folk singers today have such a clear passion for their material as Isla does, nor do they possess such an encyclopaedic knowledge of the history and cultural significance of the songs they sing. Whether she’s singing a simple reel, a timeless ballad, or one of her favourite popular folk numbers, Isla has the ability to capture her audience with little more than an acoustic guitar and her golden voice. At once melancholy and euphoric, her reinterpretations of iconic folk songs have brought delight to countless thousands across the years, and she seems to get better year by year on the folk circuit.

Isla St. Clair’s ability to transmit the history and majesty of the Scottish landscape, the essence of Scottish history and culture, and the incredible and evocative folk tradition she forms part of is a wonder to behold. It’s something which has come about after a lifetime of performance, study, and passion, and her expertise and mastery of the songs and her vocal skills are evident from start to finish. Isla’s musical career is one which has spanned the decades; she was already an established folk club singer in Aberdeen by the age of ten… and her star has only risen and risen since then. No wonder, then, that she is considered a preeminent folk singer and champion of Scottish musical heritage, and a performer of incredible pedigree and distinction.

Isla St. Clair: A Life in Music

Born on the 2nd of May, 1952 into a musical household in Grangemouth, Stirling, it was clear from a very young age that Isla St. Clair had a life in music ahead of her. Her regular performances at the Aberdeen folk club – at the tender age of ten years old – made her a favourite with those seeking to hear the classics sung with the purity of her young voice, and by the age of twelve, she was performing on both television and radio. Through her appearances on popular television programmes, such as My Kind of Folk and Stories are for Singing, the young star made contact with plenty of well-established singers on the folk circuit (not least the hugely successful and now almost legendary Jeannie Robertson), which undoubtedly fueled her enthusiasm. After leaving school at seventeen, Isla decided to follow her dreams and her heritage, and became a full-time professional folk singer with dozens of credits soon appearing against her name on the national and international folk scene.

Before long, the allure of London was irresistible to the young singer, and her natural charm and flawless voice made her the perfect choice to present The Song and The Story. Popular with viewers up and down the UK, and with her old fans in Scotland cheering her along every step of the way, her television career began to take off in a big way. Of course, we all remember with great fondness Isla St. Clair’s long-running collaboration with Larry Grayson on the BBC’s family game show, The Generation Game. Her appearances on Saturday night primetime TV led to many new fans discovering her vocal work and folk heritage, and when she finally left Grayson’s side to renew her enthusiasm for live folk performances, her fans remained true and endlessly supportive.

Over the decades which followed, Isla recorded several albums of traditional Scottish music, to great critical and fanbase acclaim. These included the stunning Inheritance, as well as the transportative album Scenes of Scotland, which featured Isla getting in touch with the music composed by her mother, and which she had once danced and sang along to as a little girl. Today, Isla remains at the peak of her powers, and her love of performing live to an enthusiastic audience seeking authentic Scottish folk music has faded not one bit. Her voice remains pure and true, her clear understanding of and passion for her her songs remains at the heart of her engrossing performances, and the essence of the musical tradition of her homeland informs each and every note.

A Night to Remember at The Caledonian Club

Back in April 2017, Isla St. Clair performed at the Caledonian Club in London for members. It’s hard to imagine a more fitting venue for the veteran folk singer; she was surrounded by those who share an enthusiasm, a fascination, and a deep respect for Scottish heritage, folklore, and culture, and her performance was met with rapturous applause, and nary a dry eye in the house.

Such cultural events are far from unusual at The Caledonian Club. As London’s premier private club for those of Scottish descent and heritage, concerts, performances, dance events, poetry readings, dinners, and whisky tastings – among many more cultural highlights – are key aspects of this elegant club’s monthly roster of gatherings. It’s a place to be surrounded by friends and fellow countrymen and women, and something of a home from home, where tales are shared and memories relived. What’s more, with the Caledonian Club’s incredible chefs and catering team, it offers a more literal taste of home, and a wide range of sensory delights which are sure to transport you to the beauty and majesty of Scotland.

Isla St. Clair’s beautiful performance in one of the grandest rooms of the Caledonian Club was a genuine pleasure to be involved in, and her songs undoubtedly moved the emotions of all who were present. She’s sure to return some day soon, bringing her ancestral music with her… but in the meantime, there’s plenty to explore and enjoy at this wonderful events space and clubhouse. We hope to see you soon, and provide you with an authentic Scottish welcome that’ll never be forgotten.

January 26, 20190 commentsRead More

Burns Night in London

For any proud Scotsman or woman, few nights of the year fill the heart with more national pride, or evoke the beauty and majesty of Scotland more successfully than Burns Night. Each year on the 25th of January, we gather together with friends, family, and our fellow Scots for a night of music, revelry, fine food and drink, and to share readings in honour of the bard of Ayrshire, Robert Burns.

Burns Night is a national celebration quite unlike any other, and is one which revolves around the power of words to conjure up a nation’s sense of self. As such, it is a festival not just of poetry, nor one which simply revolves around the life of a most singular man. It is a chance for the Scottish to take pride in all which sets them apart; their warmth, their inventiveness, their endurance, the beauty of their landscapes, the heartiness of their cuisine… and much more besides.

At the Caledonian Club – London’s exclusive and sophisticated Scottish private member’s club – it should come as no real surprise that Burns Night is one of the most important calendar events of the year. Burns Night in London is a beautiful, emotionally powerful, and deeply communal event; being away from one’s homeland and in the capital of another country gives this celebration even more significance, and emphasises the importance of brotherhood among London’s Scots. As a result, we strive to host Burns Night in a way which not only pays tribute to the bard himself, but which gives our members, their families, and their guests the opportunity to enjoy the very finest of Scottish music, food, company, and hospitality.


Alongside our dedicated Burns Night celebrations, our stylish and elegant functions rooms are also available to hire for hosting your own Burns Supper. Whether you’re looking to host an event which pulls out all the stops and comes complete with all the traditional trimmings, or wish to arrange something more intimate and personalised for your Burns Night celebrations, the dedicated Caledonian Club team will be on hand to help you make it an event to remember.

Who Was Robert Burns?

Born in Alloway, Scotland, on January 25th 1759, Robert Burns (sometimes referred to as ‘Rabbie’ Burns) was a celebrated poet, who went on to become nothing short of a national hero for Scottish people everywhere. His poems, ballads, and lyrics commonly dealt with the civil and political issues of his lifetime, and his tendency to write in Scots dialect and use common Scottish idioms saw his popularity with the common folk skyrocket during his short life. His fame, and love for his work, become unrivalled by any other Scottish writer after his death in 1796.

The first ever Burns Supper was held on the 21st January (the anniversary of his death) in Ayrshire, during the late 18th century. It was a meeting of friends and associates, who were eager that the poetry of Robert Burns be preserved and remembered for posterity, and who believed that Burns’ work had the power to unite people and give them pride in their national identity. As such, Scottish folk music was performed, poems were read aloud and meditated upon, and traditional Scottish food was served. While the date of Burns Night was later changed to January 25th (to commemorate the bard’s birthday, and thus become a celebration of life, rather than a memorial of death), the essential features of that first Burns Supper have stayed more or less the same throughout the ages

Unmissable Features of Burns Night

While Burns Night can be a formal occasion or an informal, friendly, and revelrous one, and is by nature a night on which plenty of personalised touches can be easily added, there are a handful of charming features which simply cannot be excluded from a traditional Burns Supper.

These include toasts to the great poet himself (Scotch single malt whisky is as much as part of Burns Night as is the poetry!), and readings of his most popular works. The main event of the Burns Supper, however, is unquestionably the presentation of the haggis; that most Scottish of dishes, and a savoury, peppery delight which warms the soul so well on a cold January evening. The haggis is brought to the diners on a large platter, accompanied by the full ceremonial bombast that only the Highland bagpipes can provide. The supper host will then recite the beloved Burns poem ‘Address to a Haggis’, and the haggis will then be sliced in half to rapturous applause, before being dished out to the guests alongside a series of delicious sides.

The Caledonian Club: Celebrating Burns Night in a Truly Elegant Setting

It’s hard to imagine a better or more appropriate place in London at which to celebrate Burns Night than the Caledonian Club. Not only is our club home to some of the capital’s most beautiful interiors and furnishings, it’s also a place where one can enjoy fine Scottish cuisine, a superb array of drinks, and all the warmth of genuine Scottish hospitality. We specialise in welcoming guests to our stunning and sophisticated function rooms, where they can experience all the music, revelry, and patriotic enjoyment associated with this deeply special calendar event.

Burns Night at the Caledonian Club is never anything but an incredibly special affair. We work hard to ensure that everything – from the atmosphere, the food, and our esteemed guest speakers – are all as perfect as you deserve on this night of merriment and national pride. Our house piper, Pipe Major Calum Galleitch, provides the gusto and ceremonial music for the cutting of the haggis, and we always ensure that music is also performed by our handpicked favourite Scottish singers and accompanists. Our guests are able to enjoy a series of toasts, speeches, and readings from guest speakers, as well as tastings from rare and aged Scotch whiskies, donated specially for the night’s proceedings.

Of course, the main event – the supper itself – is provided by our team of highly talented chefs, and includes a haggis of supreme quality and flavour, buttery bashed neeps, and a host of other sides and Scottish delicacies. Burns Night is an evening on which we ensure all senses are deeply satisfied, and the poetry of Robert Burns lives on in every aspect of the celebration. As the bard of Ayrshire himself wrote:

“Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it,

But we hae meat and we can eat,

And sae the Lord be thankit.”

Let’s give thanks to Robert Burns, Scotland’s hero of poetry and the source of so much pride and happiness, at the Caledonian Club; our elegant and beautiful home in the heart of London, where the spirit of Scotland never fades.

January 7, 20190 commentsRead More

Private Dining at The Caledonian Club

Sarah Spreckley on behalf of Park Lane Events

Nothing brings people together better than good conversation, accompanied by delicious food served in a fabulous location. Here at The Caledonian Club we are proud to provide various private dining options for our members and non-members and an impressive menu selection to tickle all taste buds and satisfy all dietary requirements.

Founded in 1891, ourstunning listed building boasts a variety of elegant rooms in which to enjoy aspecial birthday celebration, reception or corporate event; from the intimateOval Room that can accommodate 16 for a private dinner to the impressiveJohnnie Walker Room with a seated capacity of 170 – we offer a fabulous locationto celebrate in style with friends, family or colleagues. For groups of 10-50guests, we have 5 stylish spaces that can be transformed to provide the perfectsetting for private lunches or dinners, including our cosy Library (below)

Our in-house event team and chef are on hand to suggest and guide you through from enquiry to event to ensure you are looked after at every step of the process – why not incorporate a whisky tasting into your dinner? We have a very impressive selection and would love the opportunity to share this with you and your guests! The Club still has selected dates available in 2018 including exclusive use (dry hire) on New Years’ Eve – why not toast 2019 in with your nearest and dearest and sing Auld Lang Syne in a truly Scottish setting? Alternatively, they can provide the perfect venue to celebrate Burns Night in January – for more information, head to www.caledonianclub.com or email the team on banqueting@nullcaledonianclub.com

December 13, 20180 commentsRead More

Countdown to Christmas…

Sarah Spreckley on behalf of Park Lane Events

It’s safe to say that the fabulous summer of 2018 is finally over and as the supermarket shelves have been telling us for a while – the Christmas countdown is well and truly on. With just 10 weeks to go, it’ll soon be time to celebrate the festive season with our nearest and dearest, say goodbye to 2018 and welcome 2019 in style. If you’re still on the hunt for the perfect venue in which to dine and be merry with friends, family or colleagues – then look no further…

Located centrally in London between Knightsbridge and Mayfair sits The Caledonian Club; a Scottish private member’s club that offers an elegant venue for both formal and informal Christmas private dining events for non-members.

Founded in 1891, the stunning listed building boasts a variety of rooms to come together and be merry; from the intimate Card Room that can accommodate 10 for a seated dinner to the impressive Johnnie Walker Room with a capacity of 250 for a standing reception – The Caledonian Club offers a fabulous location to celebrate in style.

The Club still has the following selected dates available in 2018:

December 8th, 11th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 18th & 19th

including exclusive use (dry hire) on New Years’ Eve – why not toast 2019 in with your nearest and dearest and sing Auld Lang Syne in a truly Scottish setting? Alternatively, they can provide the perfect venue to celebrate Burns Night in January – for more information, head to www.caledonianclub.com or email the team on banqueting@nullcaledonianclub.com.

October 19, 20180 commentsRead More

Whisky Tasting at The Caledonian Club

Sarah Spreckley of Park Lane Events on behalf of The Caledonian Club

Regardless of where you sit on the whisky appreciation scale – there’s no better place in London to sample a wee dram than at The Caledonian Club, a Scottish private member’s club located in the heart of Belgravia.

Founded in 1891, the listed building located centrally between Knightsbridge and Mayfair and is often referred to as ‘a little bit of Scotland in the heart of London’, offering a unique setting to enjoy a Scotch with friends, family or colleagues.

The Caledonian Club offers guests and delegates the opportunity to experience an impressive array of malts to suit every palate (over 200 at the last count…) by taking the whisky tour logging their journey from the Lowlands to Speyside, the Highland and Islands for an intimate tasting event. Accompanied by the well-travelled barman who certainly knows his malts – guests can enjoy a tasting session in one of seven private event spaces, with the largest accommodating up to 250 for a standing reception. A sunny terrace can also be hired for outside tastings (when our reliable English weather allows!)

Prices start from £30 pp to include tastings, canapes and room hire (minimum of 10 delegates applies)

For more information on availability – please contact the team on banqueting@caledonianclub.com or head to www.caledonianclub.com for an online tour of the Club.

September 26, 20180 commentsRead More