15 Beautiful Village Cricket Clubs
Quintessential English summer scenes; the sound of leather on willow. Balmy Sunday afternoons on a village green. Gentle wind whispering in the overhanging trees. Quaint pavilions hosting tea and cakes.
Ironically, I write this looking out the window on torrential rain – the scourge of our summer sport.
Last year, the Cricket season flourished courtesy of a three-month drought. This enabled me to visit a plethora of beautiful village cricket venues without the need to check a weather forecast. Predominantly focussing on the Weald (the areas of Kent, Surrey and Sussex), the area is littered with stunning settings.
And it wasn’t just myself who was taken in by the surroundings; The Cricketer Magazine ran an eight-page feature on the subject, accentuated with my own images.
All images replicated on this post were taken by myself. Here’s a small list of the most beautiful in no particular order.
Nestled in the Surrey Hills – an area of outstanding natural beauty is Abinger Cricket Club. Right in the heart of the village it’s natural boundary from the road is a stream, popular with the locals for paddling. There’s a wealth of beautiful villages in this area but few top the sight of Cricket being played in such an idyllic setting.
Take a trip down to Sussex via the A286 and you’ll turn a corner and see it in all its glory. Brook Cricket Club sits conveniently opposite the Dog and Pheasant pub. Formed in 1923, little has changed in a century and aside from the Pirrie Hall (the clubhouse), the ground features a rather steep upslope on one side of the outfield.
Anazingly, the first recorded mention of cricket in Bearsted dates back to 11th August 1749. It’s understandable why the game continues to be played in this setting. Surrounded by traditional Kent oast houses, few venues are as enjoyable to watch, and play as Bearsted.
Whilst probably not topping this list, Chiddingfold still represents a typical Surrey village cricket scene. Set on the A283, just a few miles from Brook, the club has existed since 1804.
Possibly my favourite venue on the list. Miles of single lane track lead you to this rural setting, caught between two valleys in North Kent. Photos from the adjacent hill capture all of the action but the highlight of the visit (apart from the very friendly welcome) was ‘Bessie’ – their 1970’s roller, pictured at the top of this post and still going to this day.
This list doesn’t exclusively contain typical village cricket grounds. Midhurst is included for its wonderful backdrop of Cowdray House – which consists of the ruins of one of England’s great Tudor Houses.
Sadly, the village of Lurgashall doesn’t have its own side anymore, but despite this the triangle green still hosts regular matches for local sides who boast a number of teams. Just as well as this is a truly marvellous venue where you can gain front row seats at the Noah’s Ark Inn.
Another venue hidden away so far into the Surrey Hills, you’re unlikely to stumble upon it. Possibly the quietest of grounds visited, the sound of ball on bat reverberates around the woodland with ease. A ground that features a large tree within the boundary.
Tilford is arguably one of the most media captured, being used as a setting for adverts such as British Airways, Rover, Courage Beer, and many more. It was also the setting for the famous Cricket scene in the screen adaptation of A.G. McDonnell’s book ‘England their England’.
Sennocke play in the grounds of Knole House, a National Trust property in Sevenoaks. Dominating the backdrop, there’s picnic opportunities abound if you can avoid the deer droppings. Another ground with an impressive tree within the outfield.
Holmbury St Mary
By the time we visited Holmbury St Mary, rain hadn’t been seen in months and green outfields had been replaced by burnt and dusty tracks. Despite this, Holmbury is a real hidden gem at the top of the Surrey Hills, past Dorking.
The highest Cricket Ground in this list, the views from this tiny ground stretch far across the South of England, including Gatwick Airport. Absolutely stunning and worthy of a return there this year.
Not strictly village cricket but if you’re in the Godalming area, pop into Charterhouse and you might just capture a cricket match in front of the magnificent school buildings. Founded in 1611, it’s now one of the most exclusive schools in the UK.
Okay – so these next two aren’t in the South of England but absolutely worthy of this list. Bourneville Cricket Club play within the grounds of Cadbury’s (the world-renowned chocolatiers) and that pavilion is something to behold.
Set in the rich and verdant Warwickshire countryside and within the grounds of the striking Stoneleigh Abbey, can be found the glorious wicket of Stoneleigh Cricket Club. Founded in 1839 by Lord Chandos Leigh, it is one of the oldest and most famous cricket clubs in Warwickshire.
If you’d like your cricket club photographed, just drop me a line here.