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Sussex County Croquet Club

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FOREWORD

As noted in the text, this account should be read in conjunction with the previous “Histories” written by Major Harold Jellicorse in 1948 (or thereabouts) and by John Eardley-Simpson in 1992.

Information has been extracted from copies of “The Field” magazine (1860- 1882), “Croquet & Lawn Tennis” (1900 -1904), the Croquet Gazette (l905- 2000), two local papers (1900-1902), and from the Club Archives, particularly Committee Minutes. I am grateful to Alan Oldham who made his extensive library of Croquet Memorabilia available for study and copying.

I must also acknowledge information taken from Colonel DMC Prichard’s “History of Croquet” and from Patricia Shine’s Listings of Club Trophies.

I am indebted to various members of the Club and to the Management Committee for their encouragement to write a history of the Club and for their own helpful reminiscences of the recent past.

The fortunes of the Club at the time of writing are comparatively high, with over 170 members and a healthy balance sheet. However, the Club has been “riding high” before, only to be followed by periods of relative despair which has required the resolution and dedication of its members to keep going. Maintenance of the spirit of the Club, its continuing growth and the commitment of all its members are essential to survival.

There is no reason for complacency when the grounds, the buildings and the perimeter require constant attention and investment. Vandalism, recorded in Club minutes since the 1970’s is an ever present threat to our resources.

In reviewing 100 years of Croquet at Southwick one should note that in 1901 members and visitors paid the equivalent of a man’s weekly wage to play in a 6-day tournament; such was the “Croquet Set” then. Nowadays tournament fees in real terms are substantially lower and the annual subscription is less than the average weekly wage. However, now that Croquet is one of the poor relations in the Sporting World it is worth remembering that the game has always been played for enjoyment, which remains its strength. Long may it be so.

I accept full responsibility for the accuracy (or otherwise) of the information contained herein and would be grateful for any comments or corrections that readers may wish to make.

The members and visitors mentioned herein are of course a selection, hence leaving out so many people who throughout the 100 years have given their time, energy and gifts so generously to a “Members’ Club”. I therefore dedicate this History to all members, past and present.

Bryan Teague. May 2001


Contents:

1 Introduction

2 The First Club

3 The Lean Years

4 Revival

5 The Birth Of Southwick

6 The Halcyon Days

7 WW1

8 Between Wars

9 WW2

10 Modern Times

11 Personalities including Southwick Ladies and Groundsmen

12 A Chronological Summary


Introduction

Two previous writers, both members, have penned a history of the Club. The first was Major Harold Jellicorse who wrote a year or so before his death in 1951. Jellicorse in 1901 was a Captain serving in the Royal Sussex Regiment and one of the “famous five” that he and others have quoted as being the founding fathers of the Club at Southwick. Furthermore he was one of the original Trustees of the Club from 1908 until his death and was Chairman and then President for many years before and after WW2.

The second writer who may not have been aware of the earlier work was John Eardley-Simpson (JES) who produced his “Reflections of the Sussex County Croquet Club at Southwick” in 1992. This work is supported by sketches, which match the natural wit of the writer. Sadly John suffered a stroke shortly afterwards and lost both mobility and speech.

Major Jellicorse wrote at a time when the Club was still very much a single Club for both Croquet and Lawn Tennis. The two sports remain in the full title of what we now refer to as the “Main Club”, which is still responsible for the land and oversight of what are now effectively two autonomous clubs.

Both the previous publications contain errors and are being edited before being made available to members during our Centenary year.

The Centenary we are celebrating in 2001 is that of the Sussex County Croquet Club at Southwick since there was a forerunner which was founded in 1869 and which “disappeared” when Croquet as a sport went into steep decline from about 1880.

Happily Croquet was resurrected across the country over the few years before and after the turn of the nineteenth century and in a most dramatic fashion, as our early history demonstrates.

This report will attempt to complement the information provided by the two previous writers and provide some background information to the names that we see on trophies and in photographs and sketches hanging in the clubhouse.


The First Club

The original Sussex County Croquet Club was founded in 1869 by Mr Henry Jones and Mr John Hinde Hale, both men being active and influential in the development of Croquet over the following ten years. Jones was a prolific writer in many sports under the name of “Cavendish” and wrote a “Guide to Croquet” in 1869. Hale who had been a Sussex County Cricket Captain was the designer of the court setting, which was used from 1872 until 1922. This used 6 hoops, (which was a reduction from previous arrangements) and two pegs:- the turning peg and the winning peg, placed between hoops 2 and 3 and 1 and 4 respectively. Hale was also responsible for the handicap system of using a bisque as an extra stroke; a term borrowed from Real Tennis. Later of course this became an extra turn rather than a single stroke.

These two men had been finalists in a tournament at Steyne Gardens, Worthing in 1868 such that at the time, Worthing claimed them as members first!

Jones and Hale were in turn responsible in no small way for the demise of Croquet in favour of Tennis since they were both involved with Tennis development at the All England Club (Wimbledon). Hale was actually the designer of the rectangular court adopted and it was Jones who proposed that Croquet should be dropped at Wimbledon in 1882.

The first and subsequent tournaments from 1869 onward were held on the eastern lawns at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. Courts were 35 x 25 yards and 7-inch hoops were used in 1869. In the first year the Club had 150 members. Open tournaments were reported in the ‘Field’ up to 1882 and also for Tennis, which had been added to the Club in 1877. The advent of Tennis, as at Wimbledon, was the beginning of the end for the first Sussex County Croquet Club but it still existed in 1884 or it at least had a secretary quoted in the “Field” as Colonel Gordon. The same Colonel Gordon was later reported as playing in one of the revival tournaments at Maidstone in 1895.

Further features at Brighton, which militated against Croquet, were the excessive use of the lawns for Tennis immediately prior to the annual September Croquet tournament and wear caused by the general public at concerts.


The “Lean Years”

The Field magazine has little mention of Croquet between 1882 and 1900 but Croquet did continue on private lawns, two local examples being the Hentys of Worthing and Captain GRB Drummond, from Petworth, who in 1898 moved to Tringley Oak, Horsham, where he laid out five lawns in his garden (Editor's note: this is probably Ringley Oak, Horsham).

Captain Drummond was the Chief Constable of West Sussex from 1879 to 1912 and another of our five founder members. He was also very much involved with the remarkable revival Croquet from the mid-1890’s. He had organised private tournaments each year from 1892 at Petworth the one in 1894 being a month before a notable one at Maidstone, which is said to have heralded the revival of Croquet. Walter Peel and other officers of the National Association are reported to have attended Petworth in 1895. He served on the Wimbledon Committee from 1896 and was closely associated with Walter Peel in the formation of the CA in 1897, its Rules and Laws, serving on the Council until 1903. He was elected Vice-President of the Croquet Association in 1905, an honour he held until his death in 1917.

Captain Drummond and later Major Jellicorse, blamed the reduction to 3 3/4-inch hoops for tournaments as a prime cause for the decline of the game - especially for women. Consequently 4-inch hoops were used at Southwick in 1901 but these had been the recommanded size in the Hale setting since 1872!

Probably the real reasons for the near demise of croquet was the popularity of Lawn Tennis being something new, particularly when the lawns were used for both games in a combined club. Tennis is more economical in using the available space and playing croquet on a well-used tennis court would not be attractive. As late as 1937, West Worthing Club was closed for Croquet for these same reasons.


Revival

Just as Worthing claimed to be the founders of the original Sussex Club in 1869 so too did Worthing claim to be the parent of the present club. Frank W Croft from Ascot, a well known figure during the revival of Croquet, writing in 1932 while managing a tournament at Worthing, said that “ 30 or so years ago he was approached by General Kenyon-Stow and Mr W H Abbey to assist them in starting a club at Brighton where they were trying to find suitable grounds”. As a result Sussex County Cricket ground at Hove was hired at the end of the season and a tournament held in September 1900.

A photograph of the Committee for that tournament appeared in the “Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News”, a cutting from which went to South Africa during the Boer War and now hangs in the Southwick Committee room. This photograph shows the Tournament Committee, which included four of the five founders plus C E Willis who won the main event and F W Croft himself, who came third.

Two reports appeared in the magazine “Lawn Tennis” (soon to become Lawn Tennis & Croquet). Fourteen courts were in use, which were not easy due to dry Weather and a sloping ground. The entry was described as enormous! The Consolation Event was won by Captain Drummond. The reporter commented on courts idle during lunch when “one does not stop for lunch out hunting and Croquet is really as exciting without half the danger”. Mr W H Abbey was praised as Honorary Secretary of the organising Committee for the success of the meeting.

Mr Willis who had been open champion in 1897 proposed in 1903 a new court setting with only one peg, which is the arrangement we use today, but not adopted until 1923! (Although it had been in use in the Antipodes for some time)

The September Tournament (otherwise called the Autumn Tournament, even when held in August), was the main event on the Sussex calendar for many years, being expanded to 2 weeks from 1911 due mainly to its popularity and prodigious entries which on occasions had caused the tournament to go on until the following Monday or Tuesday. It continued as a two-week tournament until 1978 with each week having separate events, the more important events being held in the first week, though many people attended both weeks.


The Birth Of Southwick

The land at Southwick was leased from the owner a Mr Hugh Gorringe in three separate stages, dated 1 January 1901, l4 June 1901 and 22 January 1903, each of which contained an option to purchase. The first plot was of 3 acres and the later two of 1 acre each amounting in all to 5 acres and 8 perches. (note: 160 perches /acre). Three acres would have been quite sufficient to lay out 12 courts for the Tournament, which took place starting 9 September 1901.

The first two leases were made to W H Abbey and H. Jellicorse, the third also including Colonel A J Borton.

On 26 June 1908, an option to purchase was taken up at £500/acre for the first two plots and £525 in total for the third. The money was raised by a £2,000 mortgage provided by H. Montague Williams a solicitor of Brighton at a rate not to exceed 4.5%, together with £525 of debentures at 5% taken up by members.

Note 1
Debentures taken out in 1901 to set up the Club, were soon redeemed and so too were those raised for the purchase. On several occasions afterwards further debentures were taken out for various purposes and by 1938 £330 of debentures remained, when a further £300 was raised probably to fund a proposed watering system. In 1957 nine holders remained who were then paid off to a total of £445. The mortgage was not paid off until 1958 following a payment from the Ministry of Town and Country Planning for loss of development rights when 660 square yards of land were acquired by the Council to widen Kingston Lane. The Club owed a considerable debt of gratitude to a Committee member Mr Roy Wadsworth, who alerted the Committee to make this claim, which amounted to £2880. This gentleman was a tennis member, who also devised a successful money-raising scheme in 1956 called the “Ground Fund “ based on football pools. He later chaired the Finance Committee and then became a Club Auditor.

Note 2
A 1901 issue of “Lawn Tennis and Croquet” states that the land was acquired on 25 March when it was little better than a ploughed field. (elsewhere the land is described as pasture). This date is incorrect and probably means that the land once acquired was ploughed as soon as weather would permit and that work to level and prepare the ground for seeding or turf would not be plausible until about the end of March.


The Halcyon Days

The years before WW1 certainly were the halcyon years of the Club in that increasing numbers flocked to the September Tournament and from 1904, in lesser numbers, to a May Tournament. The membership also grew to record heights from 126 in 1901, to 242 in 1905 when entries were closed. Membership reached 252 in 1907, which included Associate Members, but thereafter membership did decline somewhat until the war, standing at 163 in 1914.

It is worth noting that the 1901 and 1902 and subsequent Autumn tournaments were referred to as the 2nd and 3rd, etc., obviously taking the inaugural tournament as that at the Cricket ground in 1900.

Tournaments during this period were always of the knockout variety, meaning only one game for many in each event, of which there were usually five. These were two “opens” for ladies and gentlemen, two classes of handicap singles and also doubles.

In 1901 there were 98 entries for the handicap singles and 52 paid for the doubles. At this meeting it was reported that the grounds were overflowing, no doubt helped by the presence of the Duke of Cambridge who presented the prizes and joined 3 Lords and 2 Ladies, 1 Knight, 1 General, 6 Colonels, l Major and two Captains for lunch in the pavilion which must have been as expeditiously erected as the grounds had been prepared.

In 1902 the entries totalled 336 for the 5 events, followed in 1903 by a record 585 entries, which resulted in timed games, some adverse comment and some re-planning for subsequent years. The main event, the open singles, was won by Miss Lily Gower, who repeated the feat the following year in 1904 when ladies won 4 out of the 5 events. At the time, Miss Gower was the best player in England being the only player on a handicap of -3. She had been Lady champion in 1899 and the following 3 years before going on to compete with the men in Open tournaments.

In 1901 the Champion Cup had been instituted by the CA, to be competed for by the best 10 players. She came 2nd that year but won it the next time she was invited in 1904 and followed it up by winning the open championship in 1905 when she beat another top-10 player, Reginald C J Beaton. That same year they were married so forming one of the most famous and the most able married partnership in the history of the game. She was widowed in 1925 following which she resumed playing at a very high standard until the 1950’s,winning the Ladies championship again in 1928 and the Peel Memorial for the 3rd time in 1948 at the age of 71.

A Crowther-Smith caricature of Beaton hangs by the Club bar, being the clockwork man with the pointed beard.

Later on, tournament numbers were limited to manageable proportions, for example in 1907 only 104 entrants were accepted but still 312 games were played, even with no double banking.

Throughout the period before WW1 the fortunes and reputation of the Club rose, with applicants having to be turned away from tournaments. The second tournament in May was made “official” in 1911, to be followed in 1914 by a third tournament in July, making with the two weeks in autumn a total of four full weeks - except for Sunday of course.

Reports of tournaments commented on the wonderful reception awaiting visitors and the courts were described more than once as the best in England, even when a few of the 14 or 15 available must have been using modified tennis courts.

A feature of these years would have been the large marquee erected near the mulberry tree, in which refreshments were served and possibly lunches. Food could have been cooked in a kitchen within the pavilion since gas had been laid on in 1902.

Better, if not more attractive, arrangements for catering were not possible until after 1922 when an Army hut was bought for £45 and fitted out for a further £125. This building would probably have been used, as now, for the AGM, which previously had been held in Hove Town Hall.

In 1906 the name of the Club was changed to Sussex County Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club and the pavilion was enlarged to double the ladies’ accommodation and to add a committee room plus a stable at the rear to house two ponies and a shelter for dogs! The ponies would have been used to pull the large mower and lawn renovator, and be fitted with over-shoes to protect the lawns.

The first record of a motor mower is in 1925 when an Atco was purchased for £95. A replacement pony for one that died in 1922 cost only £13.

A Special General Meeting was called in 1911 following which one free day was allocated for Tennis play, from which one could presume that Tennis required an extra “pay when you play” fee as the norm. Also agreed that year, was Winter play, again probably involving an extra fee and limited to 20 players.


WW1

The Army took over Southwick Green, which was covered with huts, presumably used as barracks, which deprived children and others from using the facility. Two consequences of this were an application in 1917 from Southwick Urban Council to use our grounds as a children’s play area and after the war in 1922, we acquired one of the huts as described above.

At the outbreak of war in August 1914 a notice was put in the Gazette asking for applicants to the September tournament to confirm their attendance. This notice appeared alongside about 30 others cancelling tournaments by other clubs. In the event, the response was either poor or the Club bowed to patriotic fervour and the tournament was abandoned along with all others at Southwick throughout the war.

The committee further agreed that no competitions would be held during the war for Club trophies and that no changes would be made to the Executive.

Some clubs however continued to hold tournaments, which were reported in the Gazette, now appearing only monthly.

With no revenue from competitions or tournaments, funds were low, causing lawn maintenance to be curtailed and one groundsman to be discharged.

In 1915 the Committee agreed to allow Sunday play but a special meeting was called and the decision reversed. However by 1918 Sunday play from 1.00 pm until sunset had been finally approved.

Mr H King, who had been appointed in 1906, remained Secretary throughout the war, having offered in 1916 to forego his salary (£24/annum) for the duration.

The tennis courts were probably not much used since the main users would have been young enough to be called up for war-service. They were let to a bowling club from 1917 at a rent of £20/annum.

At the AGM of 1918 a proposal to include ladies on the Management Committee was made, but not implemented until February 1920. There is no record of who the first lady committee member was, but there had been two ladies on the Tournament Committee of 1900, as the photograph shows. One of them, Mrs Frangopulo, in 1902, criticised the Committee and her resignation followed shortly afterwards!

Colonel GWN Rogers who had taken over as Chairman following the death of Colonel Borton in 1911, continued throughout the war as Chairman and Treasurer. He had been a member since the founding of the Club and was on the first constituted Committee and a signatory to the authority for the Trustees to purchase the land. He probably deserves to be listed with the other five as a founder member.

In successive years he personally financed the mounting debt that the Club accumulated, amounting eventually to nearly £200. After the war several reports praised the work done by Colonel Rogers in keeping the Club going and even saving it from the “jerry builders” He remained Treasurer until 1920 and when he died on 20 August 1921 the Club was closed during the funeral as a mark of respect.

During the war, the membership continued the decline that had been apparent pre-war, falling from 163 in 1914 to 122 by 1919, 28 of whom were non-playing members.


Between Wars

The reduced Club membership after the war was a reflection of the national situation where the number of CA Associates had fallen from 2300 in 1914 to 1400 in 1919 and some 20 clubs had been lost forever.

The Croquet Association did not really help the situation by demanding back payment of subscriptions from those members who for various reasons had lapsed during the war.

In 1919 the Club offered 3 tournaments in May, July and September, the latter still over 2 weeks, the management of all three being handled by Mr Ernest R Harrison and the Secretary Mr H King.

Except for 1921 when there was no July tournament, this pattern continued until 1926 with Mr King doing most of the management while Mr Harrison played in the tournaments. Colonel Rogers and W H Abbey helped on the Tournament Committee until 1920 and 1925 respectively.

In 1921 the subscription was increased from 3 to 4 guineas, but there was a reduced rate for family members.

In 1922 the “either ball” game was finally adopted and at the Autumn Tournament one report said “Old pre-war spirit and gaiety had returned and that the lawns were undoubtedly the best in the country.” In 1925 the courts were said to have benefited from the new motor-mower.

Mr E R Harrison presented a Gold cup in 1922 which became our most prestigious trophy, competed for in the Open event at the September Tournament, until 1984 when it was withdrawn for the Open Club Handicap competition. On that first occasion, two pre-war stalwarts fought out the final, with Duff Matthews (he of the Duffer tice) beating Reginald Beaton (the automaton).

Several changes took place in l920: the wire netting used to contain the balls was replaced by the “boards” we use today and the Willis setting was used for the September tournament.

Mr Harrison continued to manage the tournaments, being praised on several occasions for introducing a chalk board to record progress. He was usually assisted by Mr King and took over as Chairman and Treasurer in 1920, retiring to become President in 1926, but also taking on the role of Chairman again from 1932. He left Sussex in 1934 and died shortly afterwards, when it was said that he was one of the best managers and had untiring enthusiasm for all that concerned the welfare of the Club.

During this period Miss DD Steel made her debut at Southwick in 1925 and won the open singles and hence the Gold Cup, a feat she was to repeat on six further occasions up until 1935, the year she accomplished a quadruple peel.

Dorothy Dyne Steel was the greatest woman player of all time, from 1914 to 1939 virtually unbeatable by her own sex, winning the Womens’ Championship 15 times. Competing against the men in open competitions she was probably the best player in the world over the period 1923-1936 winning the Open Championship 4 times and the Champion or Beddows Cup outright in 1934 after 4 wins. She went on to win again in 1935 and 1937 for a new trophy, which became the President’s Cup. She represented England in three Test Matches but after WW2 she did not take kindly to the new Rules concerning “lifts” and because her hands became crippled with arthritis, she turned to tournament management.

Several changes took place within the Club in 1926 when E R Harrison retired as Treasurer and Chairman, while Mr H King retired alter nearly 20 years as Secretary and Mr Matten the groundsman of 16 years’ standing also retired.

They were replaced by Major Jellicorse as Chairman, J E Mowels as Secretary and by much praised Mr W Trew as groundsman. However Major Jellicorse was taken ill in 1930 and resigned as Chairman, but of course returned to office later as both Chairman and President.

During the mid-l920’s a piece of adjacent land was leased and used for a motor park and for archery.

A Challenge Bowl for archery was won outright by a Mrs Trousdale in 1930 after three successive wins. In 1931 this land had to be given up, closing archery and requiring that court 12 be converted to the present car park.

Croquet was affected by the Depression and after peaking in 1929, membership of the CA had fallen about 20% by 1936 and most clubs similarly lost members and also revenue from reduced attendance at tournaments.

In 1932 the Club was reported to be in a financial crisis and the membership down. Reports over the 4 following years show that the Club had been “saved” by the generosity of one of its members (this was Commander Morgan) and that Southwick was “bucking” the trend of waning fortunes apparent in most other clubs. Major Jellicorse was given the entire credit by one writer, having taken on the dual role of President and Chairman for 1935.

The remedial strategy included a reduction in tournament fees in 1933, which increased entries, coupled with a recruitment drive based on having several “at home days” for friends, special guests and visitors. These events did however reserve one court for bowls! There were also free regular coaching sessions for newcomers each Wednesday afternoon, provided by Major Jellicorse and Colonel Speranza. Entrance fees for newcomers were also abolished and fees for Associates Country Members reduced, resulting in 50 new members in 1934. That year there were 100 Tennis and 100 Croquet members.

Another report states that the Rev R K Teasedale had been responsible for the success of the Club during his 3 years as Chairman from 1936 to 1938. However it would seem that he and Mr A J Robards, the Secretary since 1937, once described as the perfect Secretary, deserve to share the credit for the change in fortunes of the Club, with Major Jellicorse.

Entries to the tournaments increased and the quality of the courts was praised throughout the period up until 1939, giving the credit to Mr Trew, the groundsman.

As the war approached, Southwick’s fortunes were again riding high, having hosted the fifth Test Match against Australia in 1937, which attracted 300 spectators and in 1939, on behalf of the CA, the Club experimented with 30 x 24 yard courts during the May tournament. Also in the same year, a system of pipes was laid down making water available to all courts and the best sprinklers purchased. The Club was healthy enough to increase the subscription back to 3 guineas in 1938 and was noted to have had too many applicants for the Autumn tournament.


WW2

Major J Jellicorse, states that the Tennis section resigned en masse anticipating War Service, but some Tennis continued to be played until 1942, after which the only income from tennis was for the hire of courts rather than subscriptions.

The Croquet Gazette until then a weekly issue was effectively suspended, whereupon there was only an annual ”War Emergency Issue” in each of the war years. A feature of these issues was a “news from the clubs” section from which we learn that Southwick was advertising for visitors to take up temporary membership at 7s.6d. for a week and 1 guinea for a month and that 11 courts were available. These had been reduced to 8 in 1941 and by June 1944 to 7, when visitors were not allowed near coastal areas due to Defence Regulations.

Club competitions continued throughout the war with records impeccably kept by the Secretary AJ Robards. These also included a monthly handicap for cash prizes and a contribution to Club funds, an exercise that had started pre-war. Extra handicap events were held during the war for up to 29 entries, where all the funds raised at 2s.6d. each for separate singles and doubles were donated to the Red Cross, except for 1940 when it went to the Brighton Spitfire Fund.

The “Brighton” tournament scheduled for September 1939 was cancelled, but as mentioned, some tournaments and Club competitions continued during the war. Trophies contested included the King Cup, the Daldy Cup, the Simeon Cup, the D’Esterre Bowl, the Abbey Salvers and the Fryer Cup.

After the war, the Croquet Gazette was only produced monthly, or nearly so with 10 issues per annum This publication pattern pertains at present, although for a long period during the 1970’s and 1980’s, publication was down to only five issues each year.

A report in the last war issue of the Gazette in 1945 said that Southwick had re-opened in April with 6 courts in use.

Post-war comments stated that courts 1 to 3 had been taken over by the Army as part of the defences for the Railway and were under barbed wire for 3 years and furthermore, had been damaged by mines and bombs!

During the war the Club was in the capable hands of Major Jellicorse and the Secretary A J Robards.


Modern Times

In 1946 tournaments resumed, the courts having been restored from war damage with credit being given to the groundsman Winstanley who sometime during the war must have taken over from Mr Trew.

In that first year, only two tournaments were offered. A 6-day one in May (called the Summer!) and the “Autumn” one in August, this latter one being reduced from the pre-war 2 weeks to 10 days, from Monday until the following Wednesday.

Tournaments were needed to bolster the Club’s financial position since membership was down on pre-war levels (when the Club was on a relative “high”), particularly when catering profits were limited by continuing food rationing which precluded lunches. A situation that would not be remedied until 1949.

By 1949 the Croquet membership was still only 75 and, for the next 30 years varied between 62 and 80. These numbers included Country members and Associate (non- playing) members.

Through the 1980’s membership rose, reaching 90 in 1985 but then remained static until 1988, when the Club’s financial straits prompted a plan to sell off land for building and so reduce the number of courts.

In the event, planning permission was refused and before an appeal could be mounted the Club fortunes had started to improve somewhat - by appeals for help throughout the Croquet establishment and by recruitment.

In 1982 the Inter-Counties Championships moved from Hurlingham to Southwick as an experiment, which generated extra income and brought the attention of the Club to a larger number of tournament players. Fortunately the experiment was a success; the number of participating counties increased and the fixture remained at Southwick.

By 1991 membership had risen above 100 and with continual appraisal of ideas for attracting new members, organized coaching, a winter social programme, more tournaments and other fund raising, the Club by the turn of the 20"‘ century was in its healthiest state since 1907.

The Autumn Tournament was restored to two weeks in 1953, still attracting top class players. Miss DD Steel continued to play here, mostly in May when she won the handicap singles off -4 in 1954, but afterwards was seen mostly as manager of the Autumn tournament, until 1961.

Two of the highest calibre players, E P C Cotter and H O Hicks met in the final of the Gold Cup in 1959, Cotter being a very regular post-war visitor. By 1968 he had played here for 21 successive years, often managing and he won the Gold Cup on 7 occasions (including 1959 against Hicks), equalling DD Steel’s record.

Cotter and Hicks along with John Solomon were the most dominant players from 1947 to 1964, during which time they shared the President’s Cup between them. Hicks had been in the top class since 1929, the other two coming into prominence after the war.

John Solomon is now a member at Southwick, having accepted the Presidency of the Croquet Section in 1989 and was made President of the Main Club in 1995. His wife, Barbara is one of our longer serving members, having joined in 1976.

A further top-class player who played at Southwick regularly over this period was Leslie Kirk-Greene who must also have been a member since he won the Simeon Cup 12 times between 1952 and 1965, which is and was a Club competition. He was equally proficient in Open events, winning the Abbey Challenge cup 10 times and the Sussex Gold cup 4 times. Though invited several times, he did not play in the President’s Cup but did play in two Test matches of the 1956 series. His precision play caused him to be described as a second Beaton.

Another distinguished regular visitor was Maurice Bennington Reckitt, President of the CA from 1967 to 1975, previously Vice-President from 1952, Chairman 1950-52 and Council Member from 1929. In 1969 he had not missed playing at Southwick for 60 years, continuing to come, later as a spectator, almost up to his death in January 1979.

He won his Silver medal at Southwick and played in the Beddows Cup, or its equivalent some 18 times. However he was best known as a writer and administrator, contributing to the Gazette for many years in the “Rover Notes” that he had invented.

A notable husband and wife pair who supported Southwick tournaments over four decades were the Longmans. Mr W L Longman won the first of his many trophies here in 1921 and his last in 1952. Later he became our President from 1958 until 1962, after when he presented his copies of the Croquet Gazette to the Club and had them handsomely bound, which provides us with a valuable resource for the years 1929 to 1962. He served as CA Chairman from 1924-1926 and Vice-President from 1948 to 1967. Furthermore he played 21 times in the Champion / Beddows cup, winning in 1925.

His wife Kathleen (Kay) Longman was a top-class player too and she also served us as President, from 1973 until she died in 1991. Both were selected for the Test Match of 1948 in New Zealand but illness prevented them from accepting. This loss and other withdrawals led to the selection of 19-year old John Solomon and, as they say, “the rest is history.”

It is interesting to note that after WW2 the Autumn sequence of tournaments lost a year, in that the 34th was held in 1946 whereas it should have been the 35th. It could be that the first, in 1900, had been forgotten or discounted.

In 1953 the Autumn Tournament was restored to two weeks, but the CA rated the week, for the handicap events, as “unofficial”. Knockout competitions were replaced by the XY format that year, but in 1956 the draw and process system was introduced and remained in vogue until the 1980’s.

Players were increasingly expecting more continuous play during a full week’s tournament, resulting in American blocks in 1967, followed by a popular Swiss format in 1978 for the May tournament. In 1963 the May tournament was more realistically renamed “Spring” and in 1973 one of the autumn weeks was moved to July because of an impending Test tour. Whereas it moved back to September for two years, it returned to July in 1976 whereupon it became the Summer Tournament. This tournament pattern of three separate one week tournaments remained until the mid 1990’s, but starting in 1977 a 3-day weekend was added for an advanced play competition. Later, other weekends were added and the week-long Summer tournament was reduced to 3 days as also was the May tournament.

The numbers of visiting players coming to tournaments dropped considerably through the period 1965 to the present day where only in the August (Autumn) tournament do we retain a full week and have entry numbers approaching 50. Nevertheless a fair proportion of our income is generated from tournament fees and associated catering and bar profits.

In 1958 the euphoria of paying off the mortgage was blighted for a short time while the Club searched for its Trustees to sign completion documents for the transfer of a strip of land (660 square yards) to the Shoreham Council for road widening.

The General Committee had replaced Trustees as vacancies arose but without the appropriate deed being prepared and signed. Two of them, Mrs Franc and Mr Oddie had just died and Major Abbey had resigned, so there weren’t any! It fell to the Executors of Major Jellicorse (who had died 7 years previously), to authorize three new Trustees and draw up the proper deed of appointment for Captain C F Horn (Tennis), N F Blackwood and E A Roper. From that date Trustees have been appointed with the deed duly drawn up and signed.

Neville Blackwood and Anthony Roper were both Croquet members who gave long and valued service to the Club as Chairman and Treasurer respectively. Roper was also responsible in 1955, for introducing regular sessions of Golf Croquet on the first Monday in the month and also for starting indoor Croquet in November 1963 having experimented with billiard balls in December 1962. He remained a Trustee until 1979.

Blackwood helped form the club on the Hove Lawns in 1964, while in poor health, only days before he died. He left a £100 legacy when he died in April 1964, which provided a hut for the tournament managers near court No.1 two years later. Later, this hut was moved to the Tennis area and replaced by another to which the commemorative plaque was transferred.

Since WW2, Southwick has been host to many important championships, which included Test Matches in 1956, 1974 and 1986. In 1956 the New Zealand Test team played in the May tournament which was won by the New Zealand captain A G F (Arthur) Ross who was for many years one of the world’s top players and the author of several books on Croquet.

We hosted the Ladies Field Cup in 1961, which was the first time that it had moved out of London. In 1978 the Davis Cup being played at Eastbourne, caused the South of England Championships to move from Compton to Southwick, but just for that one year. The Championship itself was won by Southwick’s   who also played for Wales, served on the CA Council and was the Captain of Sussex in 1981 for the Inter-Counties.

He was on the committee for Croquet and also on the General (management) Committee for several years and was Chairman for two years. In 1979 he was featured, along with W E (Bill) Moore, in the CA review of the decade as being in the top rank of players.

W E Moore playing off -2.5 was one of the best players that Southwick has produced winning the Longden Cup 4 times between 1960 and 1982, the Simeon Cup 10 times between 1970 and 1986, during which time he won it outright in 1976 and re-named it the Moore Cup. This trophy is the most sought after in the Club, being contested as best of three games advanced play. Both he and Owen won the Gold Cup once prior to 1984 when it was then contested in open competition.

Miss Simeon had won this cup, then called the Bryan Cup, outright in 1927 after 3 successive wins and re- presented it and re-named it. An interesting anomaly arises here when one looks at the record of Kirk-Greene who had won it 5 times in succession in 1956 and 4 times to 1965, but did not claim it nor re-name it.

Moore’s contribution to the Club was also noteworthy over a long period, from 1960 to 1985 when he served on the Committee and held the office of Treasurer and later Auditor. He and Owen also took charge of the grounds in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s often taking on maintenance work themselves.

The Inter-Counties Championships since 1982 appears to be a permanent fixture - or we hope so, since it provides considerable income from the hire of up to ll courts and from supplying the hundred or so players taking part, with solid and liquid refreshment.

The Veterans’ Championships came to Southwick for the first time in 1984, before moving to Compton, but since 1996 these championships have been shared with Budleigh. Salterton. Numbers have increased substantially, in spite of raising the lower age limit from 60 to 65 in 1996, requiring the 10 or ll courts available at these two clubs.

Both of these Championships were managed by Patricia Shine, who is a notable benefactress to the Club and one of our two longest-serving members, having joined in 1972. For over 12 years she managed most of our tournaments, including the “Ladies Sixes” and the Test Match of 1986, while at the same time holding the post of Tournament Secretary.

Over the same period she instituted, what is now our annual High Bisque Tournament, which attracts up to 50 applicants to a less formal atmosphere, so suited to beginners. She served on the CA Council for 10 years and also found time to create a club at Worthing, where she is still the driving force and President.

She is currently compiling a catalogue and history of all our trophies both past and present, beautifully set out in the finest calligraphic style and supplemented by photographs. A companion booklet listing all tournament results has been drafted by her brother-law, Bernard Weitz. Bernard and his wife Betty, Pat’s twin sister, have been avid supporters of our tournaments for over 20 years, both having had many successes. Betty has also managed tournaments for us and assisted Pat on several occasions.

The job of Tournament Secretary has become more onerous in recent years as the number of tournaments increases. The post was taken up in 1994 by Gene Mears, who also manages the SE Federation Ladies day and the above-mentioned High Bisque Tournament. She is also, along with husband Don, one of the dedicated Club coaches.

Our longest-serving member is Frederic Reynold QC who joined us in 1969, served on the Croquet and Main Committees from 1975 to 1997, becoming Chairman of the Croquet Club in 1987 for the next 10 years. His legal expertise has been freely given and used to the benefit of the Club on several occasions. Freddie who has also been a Trustee of the Club since 1991, played regularly for the County and won the Moore Cup 4 times, a record only recently bettered by Bill Arliss, also a county player. Bill brought further honour to the Club when he was elected to the CA Council in October 1995, becoming its Chairman for nearly three years in 1997.

During that time he has furthered the cause of Golf Croquet nationally and within the Club by setting up and managing top-class Golf Croquet events and each year, manages several SE Federation and club open tournaments.

The Club still awaits however, the opportunity to host one (or more) of the most prestigious events in the Association Croquet Calendar.

For over 40 years after WW2 a considerable amount of time and effort was spent, most of it fruitlessly, on proposing and considering schemes, through specially constituted sub- committees, working parties and reports, for the separation of the Croquet and Tennis Sections.

John Eardley-Simpson comments that in 1965 separate Committees were set up. However long before that and very probably before the war, there were already three Committees in existence (General or management, Tennis and Croquet) each of which had separate regular meetings and each its own AGM. With 3 sets of officers together with Presidents and Vice Presidents, it is difficult to extract from what records remain, just what was going on.

In 1965 after proposals started in 1961, a degree of autonomy was established and a new set of Rules agreed which regularised what had been the practice for years in the two Sections. However, as in 1954 complete separation was abandoned, for lack of mutually agreed terms or because of financial problems.

At the principal AGMs during the l960’s and l970’s attendance was dominated by Croquet members, typically 30 to 5 or 32 to 8 and , on one occasion the few Tennis members left the AGM early when there was “nothing of interest.”

In 1977 partial separation was attained, but both the Croquet section and the Tennis club continued to operate under the umbrella of the Main Club.

It was not until March 1989 that Tennis and Croquet finally had complete independence in their financial affairs when Rates and Insurance were allocated separately rather than remain the province of the Main Club. Both clubs, if they adhere to the Constitution and are financially viable now have only a commitment to Main Club expenses.

The Sussex County Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club therefore still exists as the “Main Club”, the Committee of which appoints Trustees with whom the tenure of the land is vested.


Personalities

Some personalities that made a notable contribution to the Club have already been highlighted. Others that we should remember are described in the following sections, starting with the five founders.

General Kenyon-Stow
According to Major Jellicorse he learned the game on Captain Drummond’s lawns at Petworth and Horsham. He is reported as being responsible for the preparation of the lawns along with Colonel Borton after obtaining possession of the land early in 1901. He also managed Tournaments including the first held at Hurlingham in 1901.

A second major levelling programme was undertaken during the winter of 1901/ 02, also under his supervision and which included the preparation of 4 tennis courts.

He also performed the task of referee and handicapper at early tournaments and was the first Chairman and Captain of the Club, receiving the Duke of Cambridge as host in 1901. In 1908, as noted on the deed of purchase, he was then still Chairman, but he resigned soon after in favour of Col. Borton and died in 1913.

Colonel Alfred John Borton
Besides supervising the major levelling programme in 1901 and 1902 he usually headed the Tournament Committee in the early l900’s and was chosen as one of the original Trustees in 1908 when the option of purchasing the land was taken up. He died somewhat prematurely on 8th October 1911, the report for the September tournament stating that he had been taken ill in the May. He was the first Honorary Secretary of the Club from 1901 to 1906 when he resigned for Major Jellicorse to take over (with clerical assistance). At the time of his death he was Chairman of the Club.

Captain Harold Jellicorse OBE
He was promoted to Major before retiring from the Army. He died on 14 August 1951 aged 87 having been very active on behalf of the Club for over 50 years. He was a regular writer of letters to the CA Gazette and produced a guide to Croquet Courts titled “Making a new and renovating old lawns” as well as the aforementioned History of the Club.

In 1922 he was made a Life Member as a result of donating his debenture certificates to the Club. The following year, there was some criticism of him by members, which precipitated the mass resignation of the Committee, whereupon an Extraordinary General Meeting was convened where the charges were negated and the Committee withdrew their resignation.

In the 1930’s when Croquet was again declining he was credited with a policy of coaching and reduced fees that bucked the trend at Southwick. He was the Club President from 1933 to 1949 when he resigned in failing health, having served the Club with the utmost loyalty and in times of need most generously. Furthermore he had previously served as Secretary for 1906 and Chairman from 1926 until resigning due to ill health in 1930.

He was described as the backbone of Sussex Croquet having been a prime mover in the formation of the Sussex Union in 1920 and was its Chairman for many years. This Union was a forerunner of today’s Regional Federations and provided, along with Surrey and a few other counties, representation on the CA Council.

In 1900 at the Tournament on the Hove Cricket Ground he was described as a “very promising player”, but later, was near the top echelon of players winning local tournaments in the 1930’s from a handicap varying between -2 and scratch. He was an original Trustee of the Club from 1908 and donated several trophies to the Club.

Captain George Drummond MVO
A major figure in the Croquet world, (already described) both prior to and during the revival of Croquet over the period 1895 to 1905, the year he became the first CA silver medallist. In addition his obituary cites a unique record of Army and Police service.

Mr William Henry Abbey
He was one of the original three Trustees from 1908, remaining so until his death on 23 December 1949. He was Treasurer of the Club from 1901 to 1913 and took overall charge of managing the first tournaments at Hove in 1900 and at Southwick in September 1901 and the next few years. He was probably the leading figure in the Club in its early years, handling the land leases and purchase.

As Secretary of the Tournament Committee his job in those days would have been quite onerous. Remarkably, he was the only non-military person on the Committee. There is strong evidence that he or his son took over the mortgage, which might explain why there was little apparent pressure to pay back the capital over the 50 years.

His son Major J R Abbey, who as Captain Abbey had played in tournaments since the early 1930’s including winning the Simeon cup during the war in 1944, also became a Trustee and President of the Club for a few years until he left Sussex in 1956.

From June 1940 the accounts show that mortgage interest had been reduced to 2% and, from December 1944, Major Abbey was said to be waiving any claim for interest payments.

The Abbey family remained in contact with the Club and in December 1967 sent a cheque for £200 to buy a new mower (which was actually spent on a scarifier). His wife, Lady Ursula Abbey, continued playing as a country member of the Club, in Southwick tournaments throughout the l960’s, not resigning until 1977, when she was made a Life Member.

Captain H C Davey
This is, or was, the dapper figure in the trilby hat who is depicted in the Crowther-Smith caricature which hangs on the east wall of the canteen. The trilby, with a little green feather was the trademark of Captain Davey who seems to have been our most popular manager ever, judging by the accolades he received at every one of the numerous tournaments that he managed. These entailed one to three weeks at Southwick for over 20 years.

His appearance at the May 1932 tournament prompted the comment “A pleasure to see him amongst us again” The August report that year stated “The tournament was in the capable hands of Mr Davey, as usual efficient and courteous.”

He had joined the CA in 1903 and was on the CA Council from 1922 to 1948, when he was taken ill on the eve of our Autumn tournament, followed by a serious operation. He was back at Southwick in 1949 to manage the May tournament, which he continued to do for a further few years.

He had extensive knowledge of the Rules and Laws, being Chairman of the CA Laws Committee for many years such that he was often listed as manager, referee and handicapper for a tournament.

He had started his Croquet at Epsom where he became Secretary and in 1919 managed his first tournament. In 1924 he moved to Lewes again becoming Secretary before finally coming to Brighton in 1930. He then transferred from country member to full member and managed nearly all our tournaments until 1952 when he became our Vice-President and resumed playing with some success.

When he died in early 1959 he was described as Croquet’s oldest and best- known member characterised by his tact and good humour, his tournaments always going with smoothness and precision. N O Hicks writing in 1960 said “Contretemps and complications were unknown at any meeting controlled by Captain Davey, an organiser of genius and a man of tact and charm”.

For the 10 years after Davey had retired from managing, he was succeeded first by the renowned figure of D D Steel and then by another well-known and respected manager in Major Jack Dibley who served us for over 20 years until 1973, managing both in May and September.

In 1960 he was reported as saying “cheers for Southwick, it’s a tonic” and in a 1962 tournament he was described as the “complete organiser.”

Major Dibley served on the CA Council, and as a manager he is described by Prichard as being too kindly and obliging for his own good, creating crises for himself and the smooth running of the tournament. His geniality and kindness however disarmed any criticism.

Mrs Henry Franc
Her name appears on two of our trophies for Club and open competitions, one of which she had presented to the Club in 1920 to be awarded for a Ladies event and in which she actually competed when it was part of the Autumn tournament. In 1949 it was won by “the amazing Miss Elphinstone-Stone”, who repeated the feat in 1952 when winning the final against Mrs Franc herself.

She was the Club’s most generous benefactor during the 1950’s when the Club minutes record that she provided for the sliding windows for the pavilion in 1955, canteen redecoration and a new bar counter in 1956 and the ladies’ dressing room beautifully decorated in 1957.

Earlier she had been a top-player, taking part in the Ladies Field Cup in 1922 and 1923 and she was picked for the overseas team of 1927 but was taken ill before due to travel.

She was a Trustee of the Club until her death in July 1958 when in her will she left a legacy of £250 which provided in 1960 the most elegant of enclosed shelters near court 5 giving views all around the ground. Sadly the 1987 storm demolished it and also a unique weathervane on its roof which depicted Maurice Reckitt in action.

Miss M Joy Daldy
When she died following a stroke in October 1976 it was said that her membership at Southwick was the longest in its records, but the writer was possibly forgetting the 50 years of one of our founders, Major Jellicorse.

Having joined the Club in 1932 she won the Challenge Bowl in 1933, 1934 and 1935 as well as the All England Handicap in 1935 and thereafter competed regularly in tournaments in the South and hardly missed any at Southwick for the next 30 years, playing off a handicap between 2 and scratch.

She won outright the Willan Rose Bowl, following wins in 1933, 1934 and 1935. The last of her 15 trophies won at Southwick was in 1949.

She was Treasurer for some 14 years from 1935, during 10 years of which she took on the dual role of Secretary and Treasurer. She was noted for the warmth of welcome that she extended to visitors where her courtesy and tact endeared her to everyone.

In 1960 she and Neville Blackwood the Club Chairman commissioned a weathervane for the central shelter and in 1966 she paid for the printing of all the new Rule books for members.

She presented two silver cups to the Club, the main one of which is competed for in our major tournament. She acted as Tournament Secretary in her later years at the Club when she was also elected as a second Vice-President.

Miss Lydia Elphinstone-Stone
When she died in 1963 in her 98th year she was described as “the most notable veteran that croquet had ever known, her zest being a refreshment for all who met her.” Eight years earlier at the age of 90 she was “still playing and winning, while at the time, being the senior CA member.

Her career began in the l890’s when she made her debut at Maidstone in 1895 and gained her silver medal in 1896, following which she won the ladies’ gold medal in 1902.

She did not join Southwick until just before WW2, but she played at Southwick from almost the beginning: her first attendance being in 1902 in the doubles following which she won the Ladies Singles in 1903. She played most years in the Autumn Tournament up to WW1 in the Ladies’ Singles.

Throughout the several decades after WW1 her name was to be seen on the results lists of many Southwick tournaments, usually in contention to the later rounds, making and winning many finals.

A photograph taken at Southwick when she was over 90 hangs in the canteen on the west wall. In her latter years she lost to John Solomon in the final of the “C” class event at Hurlingham in 1948 but giving him 66 years. A few years later she partnered him in a doubles tournament.

The Southwick Secretary
A caricature by Crowther-Smith is so labelled and hangs in the canteen, but it contains no clue as to which of our longer serving secretaries it could be.

It is not the first Secretary Colonel Borton since we have a photograph of him, but it has to be someone well- known to warrant the attention of Crowther-Smith.

Since Crowther-Smith died in 1949 it is unlikely to be J E Mowels who held the office from 1937 to 1949, though he did manage tournaments with good reports up until 1952. However he would not have been much in evidence for 6 of those years during the war.

Another contender would be A J Robards who held the office from 1926 to 1934, who also managed tournaments with associated praise from report writers. However croquet at this time was somewhat in the doldrums and tournament attendees reduced. He died in 1961 and was often mentioned in reports during the 1950’s as helping at tournaments, even behind the bar.

The most likely candidate is H King who was appointed in 1906 to give clerical assistance to Major Jellicorse before taking up the office himself the following year. He was a paid Secretary even if the stipend was only £24/year, but he did combine the job with that of Tournament Secretary.

He too, earned accolades from report writers whether assisting Chairman, ER Harrison or operating on his own. Typical comments included “No fuss, boundless patience and good temper combined with first-rate organisation to the finest detail" and “(the) King can do no wrong!”

On his retirement alter 20 years it was said that “he was so well-known by tournament players” and of course, Crowther-Smith was one. It was also revealed then, that he was the Honorary Secretary of the Brighton Lifeboat and had given long service to local and national Rifle Associations.

Finally the cap “the Secretary” is wearing fits the period 1906-1926. QED?

In 1951, F E Corke took over from Robards and served as General Secretary for 10 years, when he was awarded a testimonial of £100. He followed this by becoming President in 1963, a post that he held until his death in 1972. During this long period of service he also managed tournaments prompting the observation that he was “a wizard of organisation.”

A period of 4 years followed while EC Mogeridge took over, before handing on in 1964 to another long- serving Secretary, W G B (Gerald) Scott who held the office of General Secretary for ll years. During this time he was also the Chairman of the Croquet section from 1965 to 1971, when he too, managed tournaments and had responsibility for the courts.

His wife Isobel presented a cup in his memory, which is played for in our main tournament. A photograph of him in play hangs in the canteen.

The early l960’s was a period of financial worries for the Club, particularly Tennis, which prompted three initiatives to redeem the situation. One of these was a planning application to build houses on the tennis hard courts nearest Park Lane, which Scott prepared and submitted, only for it to be refused. (He died a month afterwards.) The other scheme was to build squash courts on lawn 11 which did receive outline planning permission, but that too, came to nothing. It is interesting to note that in July 1964 the groundsman Adams was being asked to prepare Court 11 for the August Tournament and that the Croquet Gazette was reporting that we now had an extra court, namely ll in all. Since the War no more than 9 or 10 courts had been in use for Tournaments, suggesting that the Croquet Section was now protecting its interests!

The third plan was to introduce Bowls, which was agreed at the AGM of 1964 albeit by a 27 to 17 vote, and the fee fixed at 3 guineas. However there are no records of any Bowls being played, nor any members recruited and no mention in the AGM minutes of 1965.

The General Secretary of the Club, i.e. the Main Club was a substantial office until 1977 when Tennis nominally became a separate club and Croquet continued to operate within the Main Club. Since that time, Secretaries and Treasurers of the separate entities assumed more and more authority and responsibility, until in 1990 the posts of Secretary and Treasurer of the Main Club were combined into one job, with limited duties remaining.

A further Secretary of note was W H (Howard) Austin, who was a member from 1962 and on the Committee by 1963, having previously been at Compton. He was Secretary of the Croquet section for 10 years until 1977 when he left the area in failing health. The esteem, in which members held him is shown by a framed plaque in the canteen, signed by most Club members.

He left a legacy of £500, which was used to purchase two large garden seats providing seating alongside court 1. He presented the Club with three trophies, the Sussex Vase and a pair of cups, which are competed for in our major doubles competition. Some of the letters he wrote have been retained in the Club files, which although concerned with routine matters, show an extremely elegant style and composition.

He was followed by several members filling the post, each for a few years, these being Elspeth Jackson (later to be Chairman), John Bowman, Peter Emery and Brenda Sandell.

Secretary for only 2 years until 1988, but nevertheless noteworthy, was Lionel Wharrad, a major figure in the Croquet World, who produced a very comprehensive Development Plan to improve the Club’s membership and finances and also managed our Tournaments. He and his wife joined the Club in 1982 and he was immediately co-opted on to the Committee. The death of his wife precipitated a return to Surrey, but he remains a regular visitor to our Tournaments, most recently in May 2001, in his 90th year.

One should not leave this appraisal of Secretaries, which in the account so far has presented mostly a male bastion of power, without mentioning two ladies who between them filled the post for 12 years. These are Diana Brothers and Pauline Softly, each contributing 6 years to the office, with Diana serving a further 6 years on the Committee. Pauline at the time of writing remains on the Committee.


The Southwick (Catering) Ladies

No gentlemen have been mentioned in any of the numerous tournament reports up to the present day, when Southwick lunches and teas have been praised (YES! Always praise). Sometimes reference is made to “the ladies of the Club”, at other times “the ladies in the kitchen”, or “behind the bar”, but mostly the reporter has gone to the trouble to name the lady responsible.

Following WW2 a Mrs Miller was in charge, who earned the comment “The best 3 shilling lunch in England” and this, when rationing, was barely over. However, in spite of raising the price to 3s. 6d. catering was making a loss for 1956 which prompted an increase to 4s. 0d. and a strict limit on the number of free lunches!

Mrs H F Chittenden (Barbara) who is first mentioned in 1958 as the glamorous lady behind the bar is later described as preparing “Cordon-Bleu” food at home, continuing to do so until 1967. She was a very good player too (handicap -l/2), winning several Southwick trophies in the l950’s and was selected for the Ladies Field Cup on 8 successive occasions from 1958 to 1965. She also managed the second week of the Autumn tournament from 1962 to 1976 and was made Vice President in 1964 and a Life Member in 1974, when it was recorded that she had been in charge of catering for 11 years. Club minutes show that she was on the Croquet and General committees in 1954 and until 1970 for Croquet. Furthermore, she was also a member at the Compton Club, Eastbourne, where she became their President. She played for Southwick in club matches except when against Compton when she played for them.

Mrs Sylvia J Turner was also involved over this same period, before retiring in 1974 . It is possible that she was worn out, having catered “on epic proportions” during the August tournament that year when 350 lunches were served in the 6 days. However she continued to be involved in co-operation with Edith Tucker before these duties were taken on by Hilda Wells.

Mrs Finch, the wife of Gilbert Finch the groundsman was employed as a cleaner and cook and called “The Lady of the Teas”. Club minutes in 1963 record that she was to ring the bell for tea but she was also very much involved with lunches. A testimonial from members when she retired in 1979 after many years’ service raised £75, which the Committee made up to £100.

The bar was described as being “in the capable hands of Mrs Truett”, also a Committee member, over the period 1954 to 1961, when she was asked to return to the job which she did; but only for another year.

Hilda Wells earned many comments from reporters in connection with the high standard of lunches from 1972 to 1981, while Edith Tucker concentrated on the duties of Tournament Secretary and managing Tournaments.

Hilda Wells was congratulated in 1972 for making the Bridge section so successful over the previous 3 years, (sometimes more profitable than catering!) and she was also in charge of winter indoor play.

In November 1978 a formal agreement with the Main Club was signed to set up a Croquet Social Club, Hilda Wells being one of the signatories. It was to be responsible for all social activities, including Catering, Bridge and Indoor Croquet but was to be non- profit making! It was folded in 1982 for reasons concerning VAT, which by then was obviously irrelevant. During this period there were 4 separate Clubs!

Both Hilda and Edith were made Life members, the latter, being a CA Council member and for many years, tournament manager and Tournament Secretary until 1981, when she first shared these duties with Pat Shine who then took over. Their Life memberships were the first that were offered to members who had not retired from the Club.

As the 1980’s moved to the 90’s tournament reports mostly did not comment except very generally about catering and only rarely mentioned names. The one exception was Enid Ross who in 1988 earned the comments “Above all it was Enid who ensured that we ate and drank copiously of the best” and “She does so much for the Club”. This comment refers to responsibilities among many, such as Golf Croquet, managing the Winter Working Party and setting up a Building Fund to renovate the Pavilion and Canteen. This period is of course within the memories of quite a few present members, who recognised her contribution by making her an honorary member, the year before she died.

Throughout the 1990’s the catering duties have been more equitably shared and even gentlemen have contributed

It is somewhat invidious to mention some names and leave out others, but Joan Weir, Christine Constable, Rose Jenner and Pam Arliss have all taken charge of major catering operations over these more recent years, each maintaining the high reputation that has been earned by their predecessors over the century.

Hyacinth Coombs, who joined with her husband in 1982, having previously played at Nottingham, almost immediately donated a large mowing machine to the Club. She was elected to the Committee by 1984 taking on a range of responsibilities including Club competitions, management of tournaments, coaching and handicapping. She introduced the popular monthly “Fun Doubles” which attracts many less experienced players, for whom it acts as a coaching session. However it is the Bar that for the last 10 years or so has consumed much of her time and energy, which she gives unstintingly, finding time too, to lend a hand with food preparation. Deservedly made a Life Member in 2001.


The Sussex Groundsmen

Tournament reporters nearly always comment on the courts, fast or slow, and their general condition and flatness. Sometimes the Committee is give credit (or blame) or perhaps the Chairman of the Lawns Committee, for the lawn quality. Two such names that have been mentioned in recent times are Tristram Owen and Ron Smith OBE.

Owen actually involved himself with the mowing and tining of the lawns over a 7-year period to 1984 while Smith also spent many hours on the courts over 4 years to 1990 and was responsible for the concrete inserts, that accurately mark out all the corners of the 9 tournament courts.

However it is much more prevalent to see credit given to the groundsman often by name, which in the earlier days of class-consciousness was invariably the surname! It is not until well after WW 2 that we find a Christian name in a report, however we do at least know Mr W Trew’s initial since he signed a Trustee Deed, as witness in 1938.

The first groundsman in 1901 was Funnell who was invariably congratulated until he resigned in 1909. He was replaced by Parsons and Matten, the latter receiving equal praise until he retired in 1926. (Parsons left after 2 years.) Mr Trew took over in 1926 and praise was literally heaped on him at every tournament until 1939. There appears to be no record for the war period to tell us when he was replaced by Winstanley who in 1946 is congratulated on redeeming the courts from war damage. He continued to receive accolades until 1953 when he retired and was replaced by William Adams.

John Eardley-Simpson (JES) describes him, Trew and his successor, Gilbert Finch. Adams served the Club until the day he died in 1972 and merited an obituary in the Croquet Gazette. He was also the subject of an article in the local press when he was interviewed and photographed during a tournament. There it was revealed that he was up at 4.30 am to cut the ll courts each day and that his hobby was keeping bees, of which he had 150,000. His duties also included the gardens and constructing shelters for the courts together with looking alter the tennis courts, at least until 1962, when a separate man was taken on for them.

This could have been his successor, Finch, since the local Press also interviewed him in 1974 when he was preparing for the Test Match, Great Britain v Australia. He stated that he had learned the job from his predecessor and by reading, since his previous jobs had been milkman and lorry driver! He carried on, sometimes part-time, since he had a second job in a local garage, until retiring in 1977 earning such comments as “the lawns benefiting from Finch’s tender loving care”- a comment not quite in keeping with the JES hint of his character.

Committee meeting minutes record the tact and diplomacy with which the groundsmen were to be consulted - often with kid gloves! Friction and non-co-operation could and did arise, resulting at one time in the Committee having to organize the work, using members and part-time help particularly when a new groundsman resigned after a fortnight.

Tournament reports after this period make no mention of the names of groundsmen, but JES mentions in glowing terms the more recent contributions by David (Dai) Stokes and Doug Carpenter over the period 1978 to 1990. A garden seat, suitably inscribed stands near the clubhouse as a memorial to them both.

Modestly, he does not mention that he himself took on responsibility for the courts most ably from 1990 when he was elected to the Committee, until his stroke. He directed the work of Allan Norman (the well qualified man that he does not name) and together they improved the courts considerably albeit by persuading the Committee to invest in more autumn renovation and more machines. Norman resigned soon after John’s stroke, partly because of incompatibility with the new Lawns Committee!

Brian Lines assisted by Raymond Moore took over until 1997 when the Club put the lawn maintenance out to contract.

This was taken up by Peter Underhay, of Laughton Landscapes, the initial contract now having been extended to 2004 as a result of satisfaction within the Club.


S.C.C.C. Chronology

1865

The first Croquet Club is formed at Worthing.

1869

Original SCCC formed, playing at Royal Pavilion, Brighton.

1882

Croquet in recession, Wimbledon abandons Croquet.

1897

Revival of Croquet, Croquet Association founded.

1900

First Autumn Tournament at Hove Cricket Ground.

1901

Land at Southwick leased.

Second Autumn Tournament at Southwick

1903

Final and third parcel of land leased at Southwick.

1906

Club title changed to include Tennis.

1907

Membership reaches record height of 252

1908

Lease of land converted to a purchase. Mortgage of £2000 and debentures of £525 raised.

1911

Second tournament introduced in May.

1914

WW1.

3rd Tournament introduced in July, September one cancelled

1925

Motor mower purchased.

Test Match v Australia.

1926

New Chairman, Secretary and Groundsman.

1931

Car Park under trees given up and court 12 used to form one.

1932

Club in financial straits

1934

Revival by mean of “At homes”, fee reduction and coaching.

1937

Test Match played against Australia.

1938

Further debentures raised.

1939

New water system laid down to all courts.

WW2: September Tournament cancelled.

1941

Three courts under barbed wire.

1946

Tournaments resume. Severe winter delays court preparation for 1947

1951

Last of founders, Major Jellicorse, dies.

1955

Regular Golf Croquet introduced, first Monday in the month.

Test Match against New Zealand

1956

Main sewer laid in October, through grounds from Victoria Road to Kingston Lane.

1957

Land acquired by Council to widen Kingston Lane. Wall and fence constructed.

1958

Mortgage and debentures paid off.

1959

Separate Tennis pavilion constructed, replacing “summerhouse”.

1960

Centre shelter installed (Mrs Franc legacy)

1961

Ladies Field Cup held at Southwick.

1962

Indoor Carpet Croquet introduced during winter.

1963

Land adjacent to Park Lane taken over by Council for road widening.

1964

Club assisted in forming a club at Hove Lawns.

1966

Manager’s hut installed by Court 1 (N. Blackwood legacy)

Test Match against Australia

Gilbey and Challenge Cups at Southwick the first time.

1977

Degree of autonomy introduced for Croquet and Tennis.

Croquet Social Club formed.

1978

South of England Championships held at Southwick.

1982

International; Wales v Scotland.

Inter-Counties Championships move to Southwick.

Social Club closes

1983

New Tennis pavilion.

1986

Test Match; Australia v New Zealand.

1987

October storm destroys central shelter and unique weathervane.

Planning permission sought to sell 3 courts for building.

Spinnals Grove housing estate started.

1989

Two Tennis courts loaned to Croquet for 4 years. Set up as half-courts

1990

New Constitution, Croquet becomes a separate club.

1992

Renovation programme begins for pavilion and canteen.

1997

Contractor engaged to maintain grounds.

European Championships at Southwick.

1999

Second water supply installed from Kingston Lane.

2000

Rear Pavilion re-clad, fence to “Grey Squirrels” renewed.

2001

The Southwick Centenary year

Webmaster's note

If anyone has any additions or corrections to the above, has any photographs to illustrate the text, or wishes to offer any text relating to the period after this was written in 2001, please contact the Webmaster.


Creation date : 18/11/2016 @ 08:32
Last update : 20/11/2016 @ 10:05
Category : Club Info - History
Page read 1489 times

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