Developing a Croquet Club at Moreton-in-Marsh
A group of local people have played the game for several years, on temporary and makeshift lawns in Moreton-in-Marsh. We now wish to develop quality croquet facilities for the residents of Moreton and the North Cotswolds.
The Croquet Association is providing advice and guidance, through their Development Officer for the South West.
In 2019 a parcel of land owned by Moreton Town Council, next to Moreton in Marsh Bowls Club was identified suitable to develop two full croquet lawns and one half size practice lawn. We were pleased Moreton Town Council granted us a fifty-year lease in 2020, giving permission to build a croquet club while preserving green open space.
We hope to be part of an expanding leisure quarter in the town, contributing to health and wellbeing for local people, with the Bowls Club at one end of our site and Moreton’s basketball court at the other end.
The Croquet Club will be reaching out to all sections of the community, forging links with community groups, health professionals, voluntary organisations and local charities. Moreton attracts tourists from all over the world, so we will invite visitors to come and try the game of croquet, a quintessentially British pastime that could enhance their stay in our beautiful town.
Moreton’s Role in the History of Croquet
We are excited that croquet will be returning to its historic roots, back in our town. Moreton-in-Marsh has great significance in the history of croquet. A game called “crooky” had been played in Ireland since the 1830s. Versions of the game became massively popular in Victorian England, not least because “croquet” was an outdoor, sociable pastime which men and women could play together – without a chaperone. To this day, croquet is a game that men and women can play as equals.
The rules of croquet were first codified by Walter Jones Whitmore, who lived just down the road from us at Chastleton House, now owned by the National Trust. He published the rules in 1866 and then two years later, the very first World Croquet Championship was held at Moreton-in-Marsh.
Eventually Jones Whitmore moved from Gloucestershire to London, where he founded the All England Croquet Club at Wimbledon. With improved lawnmower technology, this became the famous All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. In the twenty first century, Walter Jones Whitmore is recognised across the world as “the Father of Croquet”.
The sport of croquet is now played competitively in over twenty countries. We are very pleased to revive the tradition of croquet for the people of Moreton and the surrounding area.