Founded in 1487 by William Callows, Earl of Lawncester, the Saronshire Hunting Club had enjoyed a terrible notoriety for debauched parties, degrading "experiments" involving members of the fair sex, and the infamous midnight Norrilund-Prestley phaeton races that coined the phrase "hell-for-leather." After scandal upon scandal, the club was formally closed and reorganized along the lines of an informal learned society, and eventually discovered a quiet respectability in the early years of the 16th century.
In this private gentlemen's club, scions of the aristocracy and the establishment meet to socialize and share their experimental results. Many club members have influential contacts, and the Hunting Club itself is best known for the variety of contests and "sporting wagers" that it supports, with the aim of encouraging advancement of Barlovian scientific knowledge. The most famous of these is the biannual Norrilund-Prestley race, which traditionally begins at midnight on the first day of winter from the society's clubhouse in Ammaston.
Whilst lay members find the Hunting Club to be an altruistic and amenable social facility, the club's secretive inner circle maintain traditions other than the midnight races. Paupers are regularly "purchased" from workhouse authorities, lunatic asylums, and debtors' prisons to be used in private experimental research. Such hapless souls are methodically tortured for purposes of entertainment and education. The inner circle is also rumored to take a dreadful revenge on members who reveal club secrets (although most members know nothing of these despicable private researches).