By Micky Garner and Brian Butchers
Previously written histories of Beddington CC have considered the early history to be lost. Logically if this history was lost, how would you know it was there in the first place? Our history begins in 1837, the coronation year of Queen Victoria when a cricket match was played on Chislehurst Common between West Kent CC and Carshalton CC. This would have been a suitable occasion for two Knights of the Realm, Sir Herbert Jenner and Sir Henry Bridges, to renew old acquaintances and rivalries that began at public school and university, both gentlemen being knighted by George III in 1813.
Dinner was served after the game at the Tiger’s Head, Chislehurst Common, the headquarters of the West Kent Club (Est. 1822).
In 1850 Herbert Jenner came to live in Carshalton and joined the Carshalton CC with his son Herbert Jenner Jnr. The Jenners lived at The Limes, Culvers Avenue, a stone’s throw away from the Old Red Lion, Hackbridge. Herbert Jenner’s work as a barrister at Doctors Commons, London, kept him away from first class cricket with Kent. In August 1858 Herbert Jenner played his last game for Carshalton CC against West Kent CC and returned with his family to the Manor House on Sidcup Green. There is no history of Herbert Jenner or West Kent playing against Beddington Cricket Club.
Carshalton CC disbanded in 1860 due to unpaid debt at their headquarters, the Greyhound Inn on Carshalton Ponds, possibly connected to the Carew Bankruptcy of 1859 as the Carews of Beddington were members of the Carshalton Club. West Kent dropped the fixture with Carshalton in favour of Addington in August 1860.
The first cricket match recorded of Beddington was found in the East Surrey Advertiser of 1857, when Waddon and Beddington played West Croydon. The match was played in a field adjoining the Hare and Hounds Inn, Waddon. It was a well contested affair amongst amateurs who knew well how to play a good old fashioned English game of cricket. The game resulted in a win for Waddon and Beddington by two runs over two innings. Thirty eight people sat down to dinner at the Hare and Hounds after which some excellent songs were sung. 1857 was the year of the Carew Estate Act, when it was decided that, due to unpaid debts, the Carew Estate at Beddington would be split into lots and sold.
Croydon v. Waddon & Beddington. This match took place at Waddon, on Thursday last, between eleven of Waddon and Beddington and eleven of West Croydon, and was a well contested affair, amongst amateurs who know well how to play a good old fashioned English game at cricket, but who, perhaps, knew better how to play a good part at a good dinner afterwards, at which Mr Attwood Bignell efficiently presided. The match was played in a field adjoining the Hare and Hounds Inn, Waddon, to which house they adjourned after the game, and a dinner which in old times might have immortalised the landlord, being provided; it will be quite superfluous to tell any but those who have not the pleasure of being acquainted with them, that they, with one exception enjoyed themselves. Thirty-eight sat down to dinner, after which some excellent songs were sung, and although there were no professional singers among them, the quality of the singing was more appropriate to a good old English game of Cricket and a good old English dinner. We regret that we were not favoured with the score in time for publication or it would have been given in full; the subjoined are the totals: Croydon, first innings, 72; second ditto, 44; total, 116. Beddington and Waddon, first innings, 7; second ditto, 68, total, 118. (East Surrey Advertiser).
Also in 1857 The Morning Post recorded a cricket match played by Carshalton CC against St Nicholas College at Shoreham, Sussex. Playing in the Carshalton side are the Reynolds family the former owners of the Carshalton House Estate, Captain Carew and his son R Carew of the Beddington estate, plus Denby, Morley, and Vernon, who later played for a Carshalton team at Hackbridge House, against an unqualified England XI in 1861. The Shoreham game took place on Whit Monday with the following result, St Nicholas College 81 runs, and Carshalton CC 68 runs. This Carshalton side being almost identical to the team that played in the last game against West Kent CC at Chislehurst.
At Beddington in 1859 Sir Henry Bridges’ wife Frances died. Rev Alexander Bridges had returned from St Mark’s Horsham to Beddington House, Bridges Lane with his young family. Alexander, the eldest surviving son, was given the patronage of the Beddington Church Fields by his father who had purchased the fields from a Mr Raincock of Woodcote who had in turn acquired them from the Carews.
In a two day auction from the 22nd June 1859 the Carew estate came to the market. The whole of the Beddington Deer Park, the Carew Manor House, farm and paddock, were purchased by Joseph Atkins Borsley of Grove Park, Chiswick, a land speculator acting on behalf of William the Duke of Devonshire. Some 3000 acres of land came on the market, not all of which were sold on the auction date. All of this pressure in the parish may have led to the untimely death of the Rev James Hamilton at the age of 49 years during the Easter of 1860. Another victim of the Carew bankruptcy seems to have been the Carshalton Cricket Club who disbanded due to unpaid debts at the Greyhound on the ponds, many of their wealthy members had already flown the nest including the Carews who were now living in Boulogne, France. The West Kent fixture with Carshalton CC was never played again. Atkins Borsley continued his land speculation in Beddington purchasing land in 1880 along Croydon Road to The Grove, Carshalton, ending 20 years of speculation in Beddington and Carshalton.
Unfortunately Rev A H Bridges was unable to secure the vacant rectorship left by James Hamilton at St Mary’s, Beddington, when the office was passed to Rev William Marsh, an ageing gentleman of 80 years. Local cricket at this time had moved to Hackbridge House, while Mr Barrett had started a boys’ military school at Carshalton House with cricket, football, and boxing high on the list of learning activities.
In Beddington, Catherine Marsh – the daughter of the now Rector – resolved to make a counter attraction to the woes of Derby Day debts, by organising an afternoon game of cricket in the Church Fields. She wrote a letter to the Millworkers of Beddington inviting them to the game, followed by tea and a musical evening in the Rectory Grounds. An acceptance letter came from all men with only two exceptions, and as long as she lived in Beddington she kept up her rival Derby Day parties. This is the very first recorded cricket in Beddington Park, in the Southern Church fields on Croydon Road. (Circa 1861)
During this period Rev A H Bridges had been working as a perpetual curate at Horsham and also on the completion of the Alms Houses at Bute Road, Wallington, left unfinished after the early death of Rev Hamilton. However in 1861 the young clergyman’s fortunes changed when his father died at Beddington House and left his estates and fortunes to his only surviving son Alexander, his other two sons having died on naval service in 1849 and 1851 in India.
In 1863 – the exact date as yet unknown – the astute Rev A H Bridges, now a very wealthy gentleman and already the owner of the patronage of the church fields, purchased a piece of land in the Northern fields of Beddington Park totalling some 15.9 acres from Atkins Borsley to house a cricket ground for the recreation of choir boys and village teams.
One acre was later given to St Mary’s Church for an extension to the St Mary’s graveyard known as God’s Acre, when completed in 1875. After a short incumbency as Rector at St Mary’s from 1860 to 1864 the Rev W Marsh was taken ill and retired. Rev A H Bridges was elected to the Rectorship of St Mary’s Beddington in November 1864.
It appears that cricket ,after the Carew land sales, had moved to Hackbridge House, a large hotel with fishing rights to the river and a cricket ground with the adjacent Old Red Lion Inn on its doorstep. Hackbridge House was known to the local inhabitants and (I presume) the cricketers, as “The Abode of Love” the proprietor Mr Goad was also a useful cricketer, and enticed many London gentlemen players on the cricket circuit to play at his Alliance Ground.
In July 1861, an unqualified XI of England played twenty-two of Carshalton in a two-day game at the Alliance Ground, the match was left drawn. The unofficial England side: F W Bush, T Mantle, Gunn, W G Marten, Shepherd, T Humphrey, Lockyer, Moody, Coppinger, Taylor, T Baggalley. Bush and Marten shared the Carshalton wickets taking ten apiece. J Humphrey and T Humphrey of Mitcham, who played in the Carshalton XXII, were the brothers of R Humphrey of Surrey CCC. The Henderson brothers came to Beddington in 1876 and played in the Hackbridge House matches on this ground before joining Beddington CC in 1880.
We can now confirm from local newspaper reports at Croydon Archives, that cricket was played by Beddington United CC on the only recreation ground in the Beddington Parish at Beddington Corner. The Beddington and Waddon team played a wind-up game with the Croydon Clarendon CC in Sept 1862 on the Hare and Hound field, Waddon.
In May 1863 Beddington United CC played their first game against Borough Albion CC at Beddington Corner, with a return match at Peckham Rye in July and one week later Croydon Clarendon CC obtained a shameful beating by Beddington United on their Clarendon Ground Croydon, having lost by an innings and six runs. (Croydon Chronicle 1863)
With the railway arriving at Hackbridge in 186,8 the Beddington United team extended their fixture list from Rotherhithe and Bermondsey in the North East to Westcote and Milton in the South West. Beddington United CC continued to exist until 1872 when the club reverted back to their original name of Beddington Corner CC. The Sutton Journal of 1866 referred to Beddington United as the Beddington Club. The Beddington United Club was a unification of the village teams and amateur teams of the period, playing on the only recreation ground in the parish at Beddington Corner, a regular practice for many teams at this time, the land owned by Nathaniel Bridges, Lord of The Manor of Wallington.
‘Greensward’ in his articles of 1921 suggested that a game took place in 1863 between West Kent CC and Beddington CC, which would have been Beddington’s first recorded match. This suggestion now seems absurd as Beddington CC had no ground in Beddington Park and the choirboys’ cricket side did not come into the cricket history until the restoration of St Mary’s in 1869. Herbert Jenner had left Carshalton CC in 1858, playing his last game for West Kent in August 1863, against the aptly named “Butterflies” and retired to his ancestral home in Gloucestershire where he died in 1904.
It would have been more acceptable if ‘Greensward’ had suggested that there were strong connections between the clergy and gentlemen of Surrey and the clergy and gentlemen of Kent through public schools and the church, which may have resulted in a game being played at West Kent in 1863. We have found no evidence to suggest that this game was ever played and no further games were recorded at West Kent by Carshalton CC after August 1859, when Herbert Jenner returned to West Kent and Chislehurst.
There are no other games recorded in the West Kent history, written in 1864, concerning Beddington. In that same year the Lambeth Female Orphanage Asylum had purchased the Carew Manor House and were already demolishing and extending the accommodation, leaving the historic Grand Hall intact. This work being carried out by Joseph Clarke and Roberts the builder. These changes are mentioned in Phillip Norman’s book on West Kent CC, he also mentions Captain Hallowell Carew known at Eton as “buster” who play cricket for Carshalton CC.
Rev A Bridges proceeded with caution in his new role as Rector of St Mary’s Beddington and in 1867 with the Female Orphanage now completed he was able to concentrate on the badly needed restoration of the Church with the help of his trusted Architect Joseph Clarke. This work being completed in the spring of 1869 when the St Mary’s Church reopened the Choir boys engaged and Mr Burry employed as Organist and Choirmaster, Mr Burry and his two sons were later to play in the Beddington Choir Cricket Team. We understand from the church register that during the restoration of St Mary’s, meetings and accounts were held in the Church School Hall at Beddington Corner, known at this time as the “Chapel of ease”.
The school was built in 1843 by the Rev James Hamilton, Rector of Beddington, and served as a chapel on Sundays. It was closed around 1912, being bought first by Alexander Lambert, snuff miller at Beddington, and then by the Permoid Glue Company. It was abandoned in 1926, and finally demolished in the 1930s. The site is now part of the Goat Green and officially common land. 1
Piles Directory of 1872 described the neighbourhood: Walking from Hackbridge to the Goat Inn and Mitcham Common on the London Road at Beddington Corner. Leaving Hackbridge at the junction of Hackbridge Road and London Road going North on the left hand side, we approach the “Limes”, (the 1850 residence of Herbert Jenner) and Wallington Cottage with the watercress beds on the right hand side. After a mile we come to Beddington Corner, which despite the name is in the Ancient Hamlet of Wallington. The village green forms a pretty scene with wild duck on the river bank, on the left is the Reading Hall, a flour mill and a tanning establishment and by the roadside you have the Beddington Corner School used also as a Chapel of Ease for the Beddington Parish. On the right hand side is a Cricket Ground that is well used in the summer season. The walk from here may be extended over Mitcham Common.
This was the only recreation ground in the Parish of Beddington until 1872. When due to boundary changes it then came under the Parish of Wallington.
In 1870 Rev A H Bridges purchased the whole of Beddington Park from Joseph Atkins Borsley including the Paddock in Church Road. His son John Henry, a pupil at Winchester College, following his father’s footsteps went up to Oriel College Oxford. With the railway now in place, land speculation would have been rife, any land sale would have been the ideal place for the family fortunes, and a shrewd investment for the astute Reverend Bridges. He could now proceed with his original plans for a recreation ground in the Northern fields. The only place for choir Boys cricket at this time being the Paddock adjacent to the church or the Church fields now both owned by the Reverend Alexander H Bridges.
The Draining of the Northern fields: For a description of the original Northern Fields a study of the 1868 Ordnance Map shows the Wandle River on its ancient course through the Park, the Carew Lake to the front of the Manor House and the many streams that stretched across the park. The ground purchase by A H Bridges in 1863, known then as Dog Kennel Mead, shows a stream running through the middle of the field with no sign of any cricket grounds. The only crossing into these Northern Fields was via the Iron Bridge built by the Carews, and now in the ownership of the Female Orphanage.
The Rev Bridges’ alterations to the park included changing the ancient course of the Wandle from East to West, felling ancient oaks, disliked by Mr Smee the Grange gardener, the culverting of the meandering streams to a central lake in the park, the in-fill and turfing of the Carew Lake in front of the Manor, and the building of a Terracotta Bridge with his initial A H B on the central arch, wide enough to take a Four in Hand across the river on a Bridle Path that lead to the Beddington Park ground, the whole project taking three years to complete.
All of these alterations can be clearly seen on the 1897 Ordnance Map of the northern fields including the two pavilions and cricket grounds, confirming our starting date of 1873. All the trees planted along the perimeter and the bridle path were the work of the now Canon A H Bridges.
It was during the winter of 1872 that James Southerton (The man of three counties) who was to make his test debut at the age of 49 years in Lilywhite’s 1877 tour of Australia, laid the cricket ground at Beddington Park, and the ground was ready for use by the spring of 1873.
During the Summer recess at Oxford 1872-1874 John H Bridges and Jarvis Kenrick, his friend from Caterham, went up to the Bridges Estate in Aberdeen and played cricket for the Bonnykelly, Aberdeenshire CC. Aberdeenshire were later made famous by producing Leslie Balfour and Gregor McGregor, who captained the Middlesex side and played for England.