The Cricket Ground

 

It will surprise many present-day inhabitants to learn that there was once a village green (which doubled up as a cricket and football pitch) at Rickford.  Even if you spend a whole day surveying the area, there don’t seem to be many suitable locations (except perhaps for the odd field here and there).  So where was it?

The answer lies in Albert Enever’s very helpful reminiscences of 1975.  He is walking south from the bakery and writes as follows:

Enever doc re cricket ground.jpg

“Mr Rance’s builder’s yard” was Holly Bank, and the row of houses he refers to was Farris’s Cottages.  So that places the cricket ground at the westerly end of Rickford Common in the triangle bordered by the Bagshot Road, Goose Rye Road and the north-south footpath running alongside Perry (Perryhill Cottage on the 1915 OS map reproduced below).  Sharp eyes will see on the map the pavilion referred to by Albert as a small building in the middle of this triangle with a NW-SE orientation.

Map of Rickford Cricket Ground 1915.jpg

Between 1904 and 1906 (and possibly for longer), Hope Hall CC played matches on the green. This club was associated with the Chapel, and we have included a newspaper cutting about one of their matches here.  In 1915 Worplesdon Parish Council discussed the poor state of the pavilion, and agreed to instruct an estate agent to sell it.  Whether or not some mug bought it is not known.

 

David Rose has found a magnificent old postcard of the cricket ground (reproduced below left).  Just to the right of the pavilion can be seen a gable belonging to Perry (Perryhill Cottage).  The photograph may well have been taken at the same time as the old photograph of the chapel (shown below right), as they do show a similarity of style.  Perhaps the photographer came to Worplesdon on a Saturday one summer, took one snap, and then simply turned around and took the other.    The picture below it shows a similar-ish view of the cricket ground today.

Rickford cricket ground early postcard.j
Rickford early postcard.jpg
The cricket pitch.jpg

2 other references to the “cricket green” have already been referred to elsewhere on this site, in sale particulars for Stonebridge Cottage in 1878 and Rickford Cottage (later The Hollies and now White Lodge and Little Rickford) in 1885.  Rickford Cottage was “abutting” the green, and Stonebridge Cottage was “nearly fronting” it.  Even allowing for some exaggeration from 19th century estate agents, this suggests that the green ran right up to Goose Rye Road.

All these documents show that the cricket green existed at a minimum from 1878 to 1925, and so must have been reasonably well established.  A shame then that absolutely no trace of it remains. The area now is thickly wooded, and difficult to walk through.  With just a little imagination though, one can imagine the ground on a lazy summer afternoon, as the photos below show.

First, the pitch itself:

The pitch 2.jpg

And if this was square leg....

Square leg.jpg

Next, the pavilion:

The pavilion.jpg

... then this was deep square leg.

Deep square leg.jpg