The Círculo Eça de Queiroz Club, Lisbon.
By Bob Pigott
The club was founded in 1940 and is named after Portugal’s greatest novelist, José Maria de Eça de Queirós (sic), who was a Portuguese Consul posted to the UK in the late 19th century. Between 1879 and 1888 he was posted in Bristol and apparently resided at 38 Stoke Hill, Stoke Bishop.
The club is located in an old historical part of central Lisbon, with a very discreet entrance which takes some finding! We were met by the Secretary, Maria João Barral who showed us around the club rooms and joined us for lunch. The club day rooms are quite small, but there are a couple of large very well-appointed function/ meeting rooms. The dining room is open for lunch every day with a fixed menu comprising three courses.
The Círculo Eça de Queiroz primarily exists to ‘elevate the social and intellectual level of Portuguese life’ through literature and arts. They also hold musical events in conjunction with the Lisbon Orchestra as well as inviting notable speakers to give talks and presentations. Their library holds an impressive 3,000 books.
Full Membership is restricted to 202, a significant number for the Club, as it relates to the imaginary mansion in the Champs-Élysées where one of the author’s fictitious characters lived !
During Eça de Queirós’ time in Bristol, he wrote “Everything (here) is disagreeable to me – from its limited way of thinking to its indecent manner of cooking vegetables”. I wonder what he would say today!