In the late 18th century, cricket was played at various locations in Alresford including Tichborne Down (then also a racecourse, now a golf course). English journalist, author and cricket commentator John Arlott wrote that between about 1770 and 1795 “Alresford stood higher in cricket than any town of its size has done in the history of the game”.
In the 1840s, a device called the “Catapulta”, an early version of the bowling machine, featured in a game at Tichborne Down. Its inventor, “Felix” (Nicholas Wanostrocht), claimed its origins could be traced back to Roman times, and it had some success getting wickets in the games where it was used.
The 19th century saw the birth of what is now Tichborne Park Cricket Club. Tichborne House situated in the grounds of the village estate has been the seat of the Tichborne family for more than 800 years. In the 1800s, Cricket was played on the estate and run on a “Gentlemen” and “Players” basis. The Gentlemen were members of the Tichborne family and their guests, and the Players were members of staff from the estate or residents of the village. The main opposition to play Tichborne Cricket Club, as it was then known, came from other country houses within a 15 to 20 mile radius, and this was known as “house cricket”.
In 1895, Sir Henry Tichborne appointed Maurice Read, the recently retired Surrey and England player, as cricket professional and groundsman. Maurice Read made his debut for England in 1882 playing with W.G. Grace in the match famous for launching the “Ashes” (after the Australians won by seven runs, a mock obituary appeared in the Sporting Times saying that English cricket had died and that the body would “be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia” which resulted in test matches between the two countries thereafter being known as the “Ashes”). He was a magnificent batsman and fielder who in 1890 was named as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year (an honour which continues to be awarded to this day, with England batsman Alastair Cook one of five players named in 2012).
Some years after he came to Tichborne, Maurice Read married the hostess of the Tichborne Arms and became landlord. He lovingly cared for the cricket ground and continued playing pretty much right up until his death in 1929 at the age of 70.
In 1947, Sir Anthony Tichborne declared to members of the club that it would need to be more self-sufficient, and from that point onwards the Club has been known as Tichborne Park Cricket Club. However, the club continued to play on the estate and the club badge mirrors the Tichborne family’s crest, including the motto “pugna pro patria” which means “fight for your country”.
During the 1960s, charity matches at Tichborne Park between Sir Anthony Tichborne’s XI and a Celebrity XI featured film stars including John Mills, Kenneth More and David Niven, and from America, Gregory Peck and Bert Lancaster. And before the advent of one day county cricket, Hampshire played the International Cavaliers a number of times at Tichborne Park in front of big crowds. England greats such as Colin Cowdrey, Fred Trueman and Geoff Boycott appeared for the Cavaliers, alongside overseas players such as West Indian legends Garry Sobers and Clive Lloyd.
The late 1980’s, under the direction of Peter Hole, saw the club establish its Colts section and this has thrived ever since with age groups from under 7’s up to under 15’s playing at the park. The 1990’s saw further expansion with the development of a 3rd Saturday league team and the start of the Australian overseas player exchange. History was made at Tichborne Park again in 2013 when the first Tichborne Park ladies XI took to the field. The club is currently undertaking its biggest project yet, the design and build of a new pavilion which will cost in the region of £300,000. Current owner of Tichborne Estate and Club President Anthony Loudon is still fully supportive of the club and the annual President’s XI match is a key fixture each year.