The original one was set up in London in 1721 by Sir Francis Dashwood, a committed Christian, and was linked to French debauchery and pagan worship. At this exclusive club patrons had unlimited access to alcohol, drugs and free sex. Members of the Hell Fire Club included the Prince of Wales, the Earl of Bute (who later became prime minster), the Earl of Sandwich, the novelist Lawrence Sterne and Benjamin Franklin was hailed as an occasional guest (although some believe he was a spy!).
Regular meetings were held at the George and Vulture Inn where a naked girl was used as an altar. The ceremonial activities were followed by an orgy. In the latter part of the century members became known as ‘monks’ and wore red habits. High society ladies dressed as nuns (sometimes wearing masks to hide their faces) attended and engaged in rites and immoral activities hoping not be recognised by friends or colleagues of their husbands.
The Clubs slowly disintegrated after Dashwood was appointed the Chancellor of the Exchequer and sat in the House of Lords. Many of his club members were either arrested or driven into exile as blasphemous (pornography were also illegal at that time under the law of the land).