Page created 8 July 2001




The origins of croquet in England are unclear which is strange; they can hardly be said to be lost in antiquity, the game having been introduced as recently as the Victorian era. It seems to be accepted that the game came here from Ireland, possibly in the mid-1850s. Rules had been published by 1860 and it had attained great popularity by the mid 1860s, a popularity which continued through the following decade.


The sport was played competitively but was also a highly popular 'genteel' pastime with croquet parties being held, often combined with archery. As with all new fashions references were incorporated into contemporary monograms and crests.


The All England Croquet Club, represented here by an opulent multi-coloured crest, was founded in 1868. Despite its reputation for gentility the game had a highly competitive side, and the early years were beset by wrangling. At the end of the 1860s a splinter group formed the National Croquet Club, which is thought to have been wound up in 1872.


Lightcliffe and Northowram are villages near Halifax in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and one must assume that the involvement of some moneyed individual or individuals enabled the club to produce its splendid crest.

It is not known which of the Houghtons boasted a croquet club, none of them were very large. The county of Sussex was noted for the number of its croquet clubs.

Hurlingham is now the centre of British croquet, but the original home of the All England club was at Wimbledon. A lawn there was set aside for tennis and badminton and in 1877 the first tennis championships were played and the name was changed to the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club. As the popularity of croquet declined that of tennis grew, a trend which was reflected in a further change of name in 1899 to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

Nothing is known of the tennis clubs represented by these two fine crests.


The Oxford University Tennis Club was in existence by 1879. The Leicestershire Lawn Tennis Club which was founded in 1878 is still one of the leading British tennis clubs. As with croquet, tennis parties were a great summer attraction and crests which were probably produced for tennis party invitations can be seen on the messages page.

Much of the background information here is drawn from Queen of Games: A History of Croquet by N Smith.

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