"Anyone for Cricket?"
Epsom's cricketers in the 18th & 19th centuries,
notably F C Ladbroke, A W Schabner, H R Kingscote,
Lord F Beauclerk, Thomas Vigne, and the Woodbridge brothers
Cricket became well established in Surrey during the 17th century and the earliest village matches took place before the English Civil War.
The following extract from Toland
's Letter to Eudoxa
in 1711 - '...whether you go to some Cricket-match and other prizes of contending villagers, or choose to breath your horse at a Race, and to follow a pack of hounds in the proper season: whether, I say, you delight in any or everyone of these, EPSOM is the place you must like before all others. I that love the country entirely, and to partake in same measure of most diversions (except gaming) have fixt my residence here,...'
- makes it clear that cricket was being played by locals from early in the 18th century.
A public house, known by the sign of Batts & Balls, had been opened by Mrs Eleanor Deacon, a widow, in her rented cottage on the north-eastern side of Stamford pond in the mid 18th century [Lehmann 11C7]. Eleanor was buried at St Martins on 26 July 1760, however, and trading had ceased there before 5 January 1761. Nevertheless it may be inferred that a cricket pitch had previously become established on Stamford Green.
Epsom Cricket Club is reported to have been founded in 1800 and for a period became a major team, playing seven known first-class matches from 1814 to 1819, including the following examples.
Brighton v Epsom, at Royal New Ground, Brighton, on 28th, 29th July 1814, a 3 day match completed in two. A venue for first-class cricket matches from 1814 to 1847, also known as 'Box's Ground', this was the home of Brighton Cricket Club and became the county ground of Sussex CCC when the latter was formed in 1839.
In The Sporting Magazine
, Vol. 46, was described: -
"A grand match, for 1000 guineas, between the Epsom Club and the county of Sussex, commenced on Brighton Level, on Monday the 7th of August , and, after three days fine play, terminated in favour of the latter. State of the game:- Sussex, 1st innings, 152; 2d ditto, 54: Epsom 1st innings, 75; 2d ditto, 110. At the commencement of the game, the odds were five to four in favour of the county, and during its progress, they increased to ten and twenty to one; but towards the middle of the last innings, these odds were considerably reduced, and some even placed confidence in the success of the Club. The field was numerously attended by spectators, the assemblage each day being computed at four thousand."
This event on the Level had been arranged by 'Squire' George Osbaldeston
(1786-1866) who epitomised the rural sportsman, excelling at hunting, shooting, angling, riding, royal tennis, rowing, boxing, cricket and coursing, usually with a wager attached. The vice of gambling led to the loss of his estates during the 1840's!
A drawing of a cricket match at the Level - a grass area
directly north of the pier and Old Steine, Brighton, so-called
because it is the only absolutely flat area of open space in the town.
A scorecard for Lords, 24 August 1815, appears in Patricia Berry's Around Epsom in old photographs at page 76. The Epsom Club, which had played the Gentlemen of Middlesex (with Robinson), won in one innings by 358 runs. Players included F Woodbridge, 107, A Schabner, Esq., 10, E Woodbridge, Esq., 70, F Ladbroke, Esq., 116 & T Vigne, Esq., 38, and the eleven scored a total of 476 runs.
Epsom v Hampshire on 21, 22 & 23 August 1816 (3-day match) which Epsom won by 8 wickets.
Prince's Plain, later re-named West Kent Cricket Club, against Epsom in 1818
'An Old Colleger', author of Eton of Old, 1811-1822 wrote: -
"The Cricket of those days should not be passed over in silence, for in one respect it was a special art, irrecoverably lost to all appearance for ever. It was the time of underhand bowling, in which the slightest raising of wrist or elbow called for a 'no ball'. There was fast bowling, sometimes as fast as that of the present throwers; and in the hand of an expert, the pitch was almost certain. A good bowler could pitch his ball within an inch or two of his intention, and regulate it according to the skill and style of his antagonist; it was straight and certain, and so there was no necessity for the cumbrous, ungainly leg and other pads and guards, which disfigure the batsmen of our modem days, and draw the thoughts to German students decked out for a duel. We were, in the lightest costume, white jean, or other airy jacket, if jacket, and flannel, nankeen, or duck trousers. On match days, silk stockings with a rolled thin cotton sock over the ankles, and coloured silk handkerchief or belt round the waist.
We had two matches every year; latterly three, after Keate, who ought to have known better, had learned that the boys did not share the expenses of the tent and dinner. The two regular matches were generally with the Epsom, and the Bullingdon from Oxford; and it was a pleasure to see the tall, handsome figures of Budd, Ward, or Ladbroke, for instance, come forth from the tent in white kerseymere [a fine woollen cloth with a fancy twill weave] shorts and silk stockings, with a light sock rolled on the ankles, as much for appearance as for protection. The whole field, on both sides, in light, airy costume, presented a sight fair to look upon, and say what we will, there was a grace, an elegance - though I dislike the word, about the game which has left it. It was the same in first-class matches all over the country, and with good high-class play as well.
It was in these years that the stumps were raised some inches. They were so low that a regular or good ball rose above them. It became at last an acknowledged evil, and they were raised as now, so that a good ball missed should just lift the bails. It was an admirable move, but destroyed the neat system of cuts, over the low bails, which then were harmless, but now too dangerous for uncertain strokes."
The Gentlemen Players
Felix Calvert Ladbroke (1771 - 14 March 1840)
F C Ladbroke was born at Idlicote, near Shipton-on-Stour, Warwickshire, as the second son of Robert Ladbroke, banker and MP, who subsequently sold Idlicote and purchased estates in Surrey, including Headley. Felix had inherited £10,000 on his father's death in 1814 and land, mainly in Surrey, from his cousin James Weller Ladbroke Following his father, he became a partner in the banking firm of Ladbroke, Kingscote and Co. and had had insurance and brewing interests. In 1829 he was appointed High Sheriff of Surrey
As a cricketer he was mainly associated with Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). An amateur, he made 29 known appearances in major cricket matches from 1804 to 1826. The centuries scored by him and Frederick Woodbridge in the match against Middlesex, 24/25 August 1815 were amongst the earliest known.
Henry Robert Kingscote (25 May 1802 - 13 July 1882)
The Oxford DNB records that Henry Kingscote "was educated at Harrow School, and early became a cricketer and rider to hounds. Six feet five inches tall, he played his first match at Lord's on 21 May 1823. President of the MCC for 1827, he initiated a three-match series between Sussex - whose bowlers used the controversial round-arm style denounced by its opponents as 'throwing' - and 'All England', which aroused much interest". He played first class cricket up to 1844 making 33 known appearances in first-class matches including 8 for the 'Gentlemen' from 1825 to 1834. Of relevance to this article is the fact that he was a partner of F C Ladbroke and appeared for the Epsom Club between 1823 and 1834.
Rev. Lord Frederick Beauclerk, DD (8 May 1773 - 22 April 1850)
Lord F Beauclerk
was an outstanding but controversial English first-class cricketer for 35 years from 1791 to 1825 and, on his retirement, he served as president of MCC in 1826. Played for the Epsom Club 1815 - 1819.
Thomas Vigne (1771 - 30 March 1841)
T Vigne was another amateur, mainly associated with Surrey. He made 60 known appearances in first-class matches from 1804 to 1832.
Frederick Woodbridge (1797 - 1858)
F Woodbridge was another amateur cricketer, mainly associated with Surrey, who made 9 known appearances in major matches from 1815 to 1819.
Edward Woodbridge (18 September 1794 - 11 February 1863)
Edward Collins Woodbridge was also an amateur cricketer, mainly associated with Surrey, who made 10 known appearances in major matches from 1815 until 1819. He was the elder brother of Frederick.
Andrew William Schabner (29 October 1786 - 25 October 1838)
A W Schabner was an amateur cricketer who made 15 known appearances in major matches from 1811 to 1824. Mainly associated with Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), he also played for Surrey, Middlesex and Hampshire, as well as Epsom.
His father, Andrew, advertised in 1799: -
"SCHABNER and SON, Robe and Riding Habit Makers to her Majesty and their Royal Highnesses the Princess of Wales and Duchess of Wurtemberg, respectfully beg leave to inform those Ladies who have already honoured them with their commands and others, that they have entered into partnership, and that the joint business will in future be carried on at No. 26, Tavistock-street, Covent-garden; they are determined to execute all orders they may be favoured with in the best and most fashionable manner and on the most reasonable terms, but on account of the great advance in the price of all superfine cloths, they will be under the necessity of charging £5 5s. for a Habit complete of the best superfine Lady's cloth, which will then only be equal to £4 18s. previous to the advance. They likewise beg leave to recommend their Corsets, as well for their superior elegance in fitting and shape as for materials and workmanship.
A W Schabner was mentioned in a poem about The Islington Albion Cricketers, from 1830 : -
"Schabner's 'Short Slip' is fine, and his batting is good, And the balls leather wings fly away from the wood; Could he run like "Delvall," (not by straining his voice), He'd be first in his line, for his manner is choice..."
, Saturday, Oct 27, 1838, records: -
"Last evening, a coroner's inquest was held before Mr. Higgs, at the Bedford Head Tavern, Maiden-lane, on the body of Mr. Andrew Thomas Schabner, aged 52, of Tavistock-street, Covent-garden, who died suddenly, under the following circumstances. Mr. James Parker, of No. 3, Francis-street, Tottenham-court-road, deposed that he was standing, between 12 and 3 o'clock, in the shop of Broughton, Southampton-street. The deceased, Mr. Schabner, came in and asked to see Mr. Broughton. Witness replied he was out of town. Deceased then said he had come to complain of a ladder which had been placed at the back of his premises by some painters, who could look, whilst at work, into the back-parlour. Two ladies had been in to try stays on and were much annoyed by the men peeping through the window at the time. On being remonstrated with they were saucy to him. He thought, being Mr. Broughton's premises, he ought to have asked leave before placing the ladder there. Witness was about to reply when the deceased instantly fell upon his face. He attempted to raise him up, but from his weight found it impossible to do so. Medical aid was procured, and bleeding resorted to but without effect. By the Coroner - The deceased did not appear much excited at the time. By a Juror - The wounds in the face were inflicted by falling on the floor. Another witness corroborated this evidence. Mr. W. Welch, of 390, Strand, surgeon, deposed to being called in to see deceased. Tried to find pulsation, and bled him without effect. Was of opinion that death was occasioned by a rupture of a blood vessel of the brain, commonly called apoplexy. Verdict - 'Died of apoplexy'."
Buried, 30 Oct 1838, at German Lutheran Chapel in the Savoy, Strand.
A book illustration of a game of cricket
Dedicated to George Osbaldeston, 1832
'Gentlemen', or amateurs, were largely aristocratic men who had played during their school years, distinguishable from 'Players', professionals paid to appear by various county cricket clubs. The illustration above shows the 'light, airy costume' adopted in the Regency period, designed to show off manly muscles - and tents for essential 'refreshment'.
The first club to play on the Hurst at Molesey had been Royal Clarence Cricket Club, formed in 1828 under the patronage of the Duke of Clarence, who later became William IV, and who lived at Bushy House in Bushy Park until he became King in 1830. The only known records of matches played by the Royal Clarence Club are those against Epsom between 1828 and 1834 in which Henry Kingscote participated. The final contest of The Royal Clarence Club against The Epsom Club, at Epsom, was arranged for 2 June 1834. 'The ensuing week being that in which the Ascot Races take place, there will be no match'. This contest was apparently unfinished, possibly as the result of an umpiring decision, which led to both the match and the clubs' relationship being abandoned. In any case within a year the Royal Clarence Club seems to have played its last game.
F C Ladbroke, who lived in Headley Manor House, seems to have been the leading light of, and principal arranger of fixtures for, the Epsom gentlemen's club. Many of the members were not locally resident in his time. After he withdrew, the Epsom Club continued playing quietly with players drawn from the town.
According to W G Grace in Cricket
, 1891: -
"The All-England Eleven was formed in 1846. Before that time cricket in England was confined to certain districts. It had always flourished in such counties as Kent, Hants, Surrey, Notts, and Sussex; but outside of them it had been limited to a few country clubs, which were more or less attached to some nobleman or gentleman's residence, and were in fact supported by them. Such for instance was the Kingscote club, in Gloucestershire, under the auspices of the good old cricketing family of that name. Lord Ducie had a club at Tortworth, and the Marquis of Lansdown at Bowood. True, there were important clubs in such large towns as Liverpool, Manchester, and one or two others; but the members were mostly in good positions, and were usually elected by ballot. At the weekly meetings of those clubs, the younger members came to play, the older ones to criticise, and sides were picked. A few matches were played during the season with clubs of the same strength who were within driving distance.
The dinners played no insignificant part at those gatherings, and many a good bottle of port was cracked before the evening was over. It is related that the Kingscote club nearly ruined itself by its hospitality to the Epsom club after a friendly match [possibly one on 7 August 1823]. Three haunches of venison were consumed, besides other delicacies, and the cellar ran dry. The chairman is said to have closed the innings of the claret with the remark: 'Gentlemen, I am sorry to say there is only one bottle left, and as it would be ridiculous to divide that among so many, with your permission I'll drink it myself'. That sort of social cricket existed, and very enjoyable cricket it was; but cricket amongst the people was scarcely known until the All-England Eleven appeared."
It is unclear exactly where the Epsom Club had its home ground although the matches against Hampshire, 22 - 23 August 1816 & West Kent on 14 July 1823 took place on the Downs, as did fixtures with the Clarence Club between 1829 and 1834.
Postcard view of Stamford Pond with the Cricketers Pub in the background
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum
In 1836 Stamford Cottage was purchased by Edward Gregory and Edward Croft Fish for £235. That acquisition would appear to mark the establishment of The Cricketers PH and development of regular cricket matches on Stamford Green. This assumption is borne out by evidence given to a Select committee of the House of Commons, in reply to numbered questions, by Henry Mason, Steward of the Manor of Epsom, on 1 May 1865 : -
"2399. Have the inhabitants of Epsom always used this Stamford Green to play cricket upon? - No, I should not say always; of late years it has been laid down more particularly for that purpose, with the consent, however, of the lord of the manor.
2400. For what length of time? - Ten or 15 years, within my knowledge; it may have been so previously, but playing cricket has within that time become very common there.
2401. How is it inclosed? - There is a ditch outside, so as to separate it from the rest of the common.
2402. It has been used for 10 or 15 years, within your knowledge, and you say it may have been so before? - It may have been before; but it has been of late years specially allotted, with the consent of the lord of the manor."
In 1859, a match on Stamford Green is known to have taken place between Epsom Club, with two members of the Barnard family in the team, and Camberwell Albion.
View of level ground at Stamford Green, beyond the road, used to play cricket matches
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2012
By 1860, however, the Epsom Cricket Club's new ground had been established in Woodcote Road on land which was part of Edward Richard Northey's estates.
Extract From The 1866 Os Map - Click image to enlarge
In his Reminiscences George W Challis
"Epsom Cricket Club used to provide some good cricket at the Woodcote Ground. How delighted we were when A Green and Lord Dalmeny* were in form - they were good hitters and often put the ball out of the ground. One gentleman, F.L. Rawson, used to encourage us lads to bowl him out at practice by putting a shilling on the middle stump which was ours if we hit the wicket. He was a good defensive bat so we did not get rich at his expense...The Reverend owner of this place was a real autocrat and was looked upon as the Squire of the place. I was looking over the fence surrounding this cricket field while a match was in progress when he stopped his carriage and taking the whip from his coachman, threatened to thrash me with it if I did not come away."
[*The Hon. Archibald Ronald Primrose, son of 6th Earl of Rosebery, became Lord Dalmeny in May 1929 but died of blood poisoning, aged 21, on 11 November 1931]
Harry Corben explained in Epsom Protection Society Newsletter No. 125, Autumn 2010, that: -
"In 1932, however, the club had fallen into serious financial difficulties and these were resolved to a great extent with the help of Captain E.E. Schnadhorst who was the second son of Francis Schnadhorst a prominent member of the Liberal Party in Birmingham during the 1890's. [Died 2 January 1900]
The eldest son was killed during the First World War#. Captain Schnadhorst formed a committee of club members and the Epsom Sports Club Ltd. was formed as a non profit making company to take over the lease of the ground. Like so much of the ground in the area the land belonged to Sir Edward Northey and the lease was now assigned to the company.
In 1935 Capt Schnadhorst purchased the ground as a memorial to his father and his brother and this episode is recorded in a plaque which sits by the path on the way to the Club Pavilion. Capt Schnadhorst generously arranged for a lease of 500 years to be granted to the Epsom Sports Club Ltd., at a rent of £20 per year. He established a Charitable Trust under which the ground is to be an open space in perpetuity for the conduct of sports of the highest standing."
The Epsom CC remains based at the Francis Schnadhorst Memorial Ground in Woodcote Road.
# In fact Francis Ernest Ashton Schnadhorst, b. 1896, the eldest son of Ernest Edward, served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the North Staffordshire Regiment during the Great War but survived the hostilities. He died on 23 September 1923 in Genoa, Italy.
Revised December 2016