As we approach high summer, with the start of the Test series between England and South Africa and the Women’s World Cup in progress, it seems appropriate to look through some of the sources available at Hampshire Record Office for the history of cricket.
Hampshire is of course known as ‘the birthplace of cricket’, as Hambledon Cricket Club, founded in 1750 was once the most powerful club in the country. It took on responsibility for developing many laws of modern day cricket, such as the addition of a third stump. The Record Office holds a number of records from the club, including a minute book, 1772-1796, which has the following entry for July 1791 where the umpire said ‘I really think the ball hit the ground, but I cannot be positive’.
Hambledon Cricket Club minute book 1772-1796 ref 4M85/1
The Record Office also holds the archives of Hampshire County Cricket Club (ref: 10M89), which was founded in 1863. The records include score books from 1883-2011 and committee minutes 1863-2001. In 2000, former England and Hampshire batsman Robin Smith visited the Record Office to present our Charter Mark, and can be seen here looking at some of the Hampshire County Cricket Club archives, including a score book featuring a personal century achieved during his debut for Hampshire.
Robin Smith with archivist Sarah Farley
Country House cricket became increasingly popular in the late nineteenth century and photographs, letters, cuttings and score books exist in some of our large family collections. Games were played at the Vyne, home of the Chute family, from as early as 1859. The Carnegie family, Earls of Northesk had their own cricket ground at Longwood House near Owslebury, complete with a thatched pavilion designed in the style of a Swiss chalet. Family and friends played matches with visiting local teams, and they held a regular cricket week in July. The Earl also placed the ground at free use for visiting local teams, such as a match held in 1889 between the tradesmen of the North and South of Winchester High Street.
Cutting about Longwood cricket week (1881) ref 133A15/A10/3/3
We hold the archives, mostly score books and minute books, of a number of individual Hampshire Cricket Clubs, including Petersfield, Sparsholt, Winchester St Cross and Fareham. Companies and other large employers also had their own cricket teams. The Castle Cricket Club was formed in November 1911 (disbanded in 1995) for employees of Hampshire County Council. We hold a number of their minute books and score books, as well as this photograph of the team in 1912.
Photograph of Castle Cricket Club (1912) ref 113M71/F1
Military and schools cricket are also represented in our holdings. The Royal Green Jackets archive contains a number of photographs and score cards of cricket matches. ‘Green Jacket Week’ took place each year in July, with matches being played at the St Cross ground, Winchester.
Photograph of a group outside the cricket pavilion, St Cross during Green Jacket Week, (1925) ref 170A12W/P9565
Girls and ladies also played cricket, as can be seen by this team book from the archive of St Swithun’s School, Winchester. A match was held in June 1939 between the first XI and a fathers’ XI, which the girls won by 15 runs. The fathers’ did have a bit of a handicap though, having to retire on 20, while the St Swithun’s team had two lives each!
St Swithun’s School team book (1939) ref 40M95W/I1/2/1
To finish, a couple of more unusual cricket related items. Thomas Lord, the founder of Lord’s cricket ground spent the final two years of his life at West Meon, and died there in 1832. He is buried in West Meon churchyard.
Burial entry for Thomas Lord, 67M81/PR12
It may be high summer, but cricket can be in the mind of all year round, as illustrated by this Christmas card from Lysses School, Fareham, dating from the 1950s.
Christmas card (1950s) ref 68A17/5
So if you are interested in researching the history of cricket in Hampshire, or want to find out how many runs an ancestor may have scored, please search our catalogue or pay us a visit.
Sarah Farley, Archivist