Cream soup and toasts at Lyons Corner House
When the victorious Bentley team sat down to their celebratory dinner after winning Le Mans in 1928, they must have had one eye on posterity; the assembled crew all signed this menu listing the evening’s fare. Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin, the winners, plus WO Bentley, Tim Birkin, Dudley Benjafield, Bertie Kensington-Moir and Frank Clement are among those who added their imprimatur to the card, its cover graced by a cartoon of Barnato cursing his Stutz rivals, who had led for over 22 hours.
Despite the glamorous society life led by the ‘Bentley Boys’, this dinner, given by the firm to its employees six weeks after the race, was not at Claridges or the Savoy. It had a rather more down-to-earth venue — Lyons Corner House in Coventry Street, London W1.
Yet the feast ran to a healthy five courses, with sole, saddle of lamb and chicken casserole before toasts were drunk to HM The King, the Bentley team and chairman Barnato.
Given that the usual form on such occasions would be for everyone to sign a menu and pass it on round the table, there must once have been 10 or 20 specimens. Few now exist, making this a rare item.
It would truly have astonished the cheerful assembly at the Corner House that this piece of cardboard would one day be worth far more than a brand-new 4½-litre from Cricklewood. At Bonhams’ auction in December it was knocked down for the sum of £2990.