The 19th Century
We know that cricket has been played at Shipton since at least the
mid-C19th: Jackson’s Oxford Journal records a match with the neighbouring village of Ascott, played on 24th August 1861 (Shipton scored 89, Ascott 35).
It is believed that village matches were staged in a field on the edge of Shipton near Fiveways, at the junction of Leafield and Swinbrook Roads, Mawles and Plum Lanes.
Country house cricket was played on the present ground in the late C19th following its levelling and draining by the Pepper family, owners of the Jacobean mansion Shipton Court, which still stands opposite the ground.
The existing club’s lovely wooden pavilion dates from this period of estate cricket.
Shipton-under-Wychwood Cricket Club as we know it today is established when village cricket moves to the present ground.
An era of charity matches for the local hospital and other causes, graced by the likes of Sir Jack Hobbs, Tom Hayward and Herbert Strudwick.
The team is dominated by the Hartley brothers: Dick, who played for the MCC, and was regarded as the finest batsman of his day, Frank, a fast bowler who also played football for Tottenham Hotspur and England, and Ernest, a batsman and superb fielder who captained England at hockey. The sons of Frank and Ernest also served the club for many years, both on and off the field.
The Shipton Court estate is split up for sale. The cricket ground is advertised as being ‘one of the prettiest in the Cotswolds, fringed by a belt of trees on three sides, protected by high walls and entered through beautiful wrought iron gates hung on stone pillars.’ Thankfully little has changed, although the entrance to the ground has moved away from off the Wild Garden avenue to a more convenient opening adjacent to the present A361. The takes the opportunity to buy the ground for £600, a considerable investment in those days!
The tearoom is built in 1974 and we join the Cherwell League. A 2nd XI is formed under captain John Jennings.
Local farming families continue to provide the backbone of the sides, notably the Hartleys, Badgers and Barretts. Mark Meredith a farmer from near Chipping Norton is also a stalwart of the club from the 1970s.
The Gorton family is prominent through the 70s and 80s. Roger Gorton runs one of the Sunday sides and arranges highly popular tours to Devon, Lancashire, Guernsey and even Corfu.
This is a period of growing success on the field with an influx of new players in the early 90s, including ‘Big’ Jon Hartley, no relation to the local farming family, who comes down from Burnley and the Lancashire 2nd team.
Two lane practise nets are installed by Slatters.
The club first enters the National Village Knockout Competition in the mid-90s and we waste no time in reaching the final in 1997.
Sam Mendes, who is a regular player at this time, hosts a meal for the team at the Groucho Club on the eve of the match – great fun but the hangovers don’t necessarily improve our cricket! In the event the final is overshadowed by the overnight death of Princess Diana. There are doubts about proceeding with the match but it goes ahead and we lose to Caldy of The Wirral. (watch video).
Twice winners of the National Village Knockout!
We are back at Lords in 2002, and this time we win! And again in 2003 (watch video). These were great days for the club, and we enjoys wonderful support from locals, taking coach loads not just to Lords but as far as Kent, Wales and Cornwall. The Parish Council generously treat the team to a reception.
The youth section begins its expansion under first Jerry Senior and then Charlie Barrett. It is Charlie who does so much to increase the number of coaches, enabling the dramatic rise in the number of juniors the club can train. He introduces coaching for 7-11-year olds - boys and girls - and starts Friday Youth Nights, which have come to mean so much to children, parents and the club.
Cherwell League Division 1 winners under captain Paul Hemming and we are promoted to the Home Counties Premier Cricket League for the first time. The 1st XI is unbeaten in a run of 25 matches during 2002/3.
We form a 3rd XI which joins the Cherwell League. Its home matches are initially played at Burford School.
In a transformative move the club’s committee, under President Geoff Miles and Chair Steve Brain, seize the opportunity to acquire the field adjoining the main ground when our neighbours, the Tall Trees Care Home, is redeveloped. The field becomes the Nursery Ground, home to our 3rd and 4th XIs and our youth teams.
Youth cricket continues to expand. More coaches are added and player numbers exceed 200 in some years, helped greatly by the development of the nursery ground and the opening of our three-lane net facility in 2016. With four senior sides playing league cricket, we can now make the transition into senior cricket as seamless as possible.
National Village Knockout, losing finalists.
Cherwell League Division 1 winners. We are promoted to the Home Counties Premier Cricket League.
Oxfordshire T20 Champions.
Oxfordshire Sports Team of the Year. We enjoy an Oxfordshire County Council reception at County Hall, hosted by the Lord Lieutenant, Hugo Brunner.
A 4th XI is formed and joins the Cherwell League. We become one of a tiny band of village clubs to support four senior teams.
Under captain Simon Hole we are Cherwell League Division 1 runners up and are again promoted to Home Counties Premier Cricket League. We remain in the league for five seasons, helped by the services of our overseas-professional Anapam Sanklecha, who also has a hugely positive effect on the youth section.
Oxfordshire Ladies Champions.
After a major fundraising campaign and with the assistance of National Lottery Funding our practise nets are completely redeveloped by Slatters, and a third lane is added. The club is now one of the finest facilities for village cricket in Oxfordshire, or neighbouring counties.
All Stars cricket begins for 5-7 year olds.
We celebrate 100 years of Shipton-under-Wychwood Cricket Club. Under Chair Russell Hayes we not only have one of the most beautiful and tranquil grounds in the county, it’s also one of the best, with two of the finest playing strips in the league. This is thanks to generations of groundmen, most recently the meticulous Anthony Prior-Wandesforde. Our thanks go to the countless volunteers who have coached, made teas, prepared pitches, cleaned changing rooms, pulled pints and patched wounds and bruised egos over the years. Hopefully, they will continue to do so in the years to come because there will be no cricket club without them.