andrew thomas – author of pears 150 – says the recent worcestershire ccc website appreciation of paul h foley illustrated the debt the county owes to more than a dozen county estates.
since the first berrow’s worcester journal report, nearly 200 years ago, in 1820, of cricket in worcestershire, the region’s landed gentry have been influential by providing skilled cricketers, club officials and fields to play on.
the most significant estate has been hagley hall – the source of 10 worcestershire ccc players (lyttelton/cobham), several of whom also served as club officials.
it has been followed by six – croome park (coventry/deerhurst), spetchley park (berkeley) and hindlip hall (allsopp).
next on the list are with four are prestwood/stoke edith 4 (foley), ham court (martin) and eastnor castle 4 (somers cocks).
other estate involved with worcestershire ccc in various capacities included witley court/himley hall (dudley/ward), westwood park (pakington/doverdale), hewell park (windsor-clive/plymouth), hanbury hall (vernon), pull court bushley (dowdeswell), wick manor (hudson) and madresfield (beauchamp/lygon).
hagley hall still has a beautiful cricket ground near the main mansion, and its pavilion is beside st john the baptist church.
but unfortunately, wars, fires, and changing social and economic conditions meant that taxes and death duties forced several other estate families to sell up, and so the close link with cricket in general and worcestershire ccc in particular, was lost.
the cricketing influence of these estates extended far beyond the county.
they produced seven presidents of mcc – including four lytteltons from hagley hall – before the mid-1950s.
they were: 1859 – croome park, 9th earl coventry, 1864 – witley court, 1st earl dudley and then hagley hall, 1886 cg lyttelton, 1898 alfred lyttelton, 1935 jc lyttelton, and 1954 cj lyttelton and finally 1936 eastnor castle, 6th baron somers (herefordshire).
it is ironic, in view of his 30 years of devoted service to worcestershire ccc, that paul foley’s estates were not in worcestershire.
prestwood was in staffordshire and stoke edith is in herefordshire.
less well known these days, but no less important to worcestershire ccc’s development in the cash-strapped days before the great war and world war two, were volunteers and county cricket enthusiasts.
these included: judge amphlett, colonel norbury, the jobson brothers, gw bate, the isaac family, rev & mrs martin buckle, the jewell family, mrs price hughes, admiral rsd cuming, and the royal engineers during world war 1.
*pears 150 by andrew thomas – which marked the club’s 150th anniversary three years ago – is still available from the supporters’s association shop on match days, priced £28.
alternatively, drop andrew a line c-o the offices at worcestershire ccc in New Road and he will get back in touch.