Explore Surrey’s sporting history and learn about some of the personalities involved.

Motor Racing

Britain’s first Grand Prix was held at Brooklands Motor Racing Circuit in 1926.

Baseball

The earliest known original reference to baseball is now believed to date back to 1755 following the discovery of a manuscript in a Surrey residents shed. The diary belonged to William Bray, a Surrey solicitor and local historian who records playing the game with friends near Guildford on Easter Monday 1755.

Golf

A golf match at Hurst Park,Molesey in 1758 is the first recorded in England.

Shooting

A Surrey resident was the first woman to win the National Rifle Association Kings Prize at Bisley in 1930.

Football

In the early 1880s, the Football Association committee watched a football match in Reigate where a ball was kicked between posts but 30 feet in the air. This led to the introduction of a cross bar to prevent the problem happening again.

Cricket

Ancient records in Surrey History Centre include two of the earliest known references to cricket.

    • The first reference comes in the Guildford Court Book (Surrey History Centre ref: BR/OC/1/2) where, in evidence dated 1598, John Derrick, aged fifty-nine, recalled that when he was a scholar at the Royal Grammar School fifty years earlier, hee and diverse of his fellows did runne and play there at Creckett and other Plaies.
    • The second reference has been found in the Wanborough manor court roll for 1616 (Surrey History Centre ref 1272/1/3) where Nicholas Hockley was fined three shillings and four pence for making ‘insult and affray against a certain Robert Hewitt’ and drawing blood, ‘with a certain stick called ‘a crickett staffe’ of the value 1d’ [one penny].

The third cricket stump was added after a controversial match in Surrey in 1772. The ball was bowled through the two-stump wicket of the day without dislodging the bail and the batsman was declared not out.

Shrovetide Football

Football festivals on Shrove Tuesday were held in Surrey from early times until well into the nineteenth century. There were three main centres in Surrey: Kingston, Dorking and Richmond. The game in Richmond seems to have come to an end in 1839. At Barnes the custom was introduced, probably in emulation of Richmond, in 1829, and it continued to 1836 at least, despite the efforts of the vestry to stop it.

The Kingston game is probably the best known in Surrey and a number of illustrations of it exist. In 1849 the game was interrupted by the passage of Queen Victoria through the town. Its popularity is indicated by an entry in the Richmond Road Boys’ School log book, 1864.

As the football match was played through the main streets with a multitude of participants it could be a great nuisance and many attempts were made to bring it to an end. At Dorking it seems to have lasted longest, despite a notice threatening prosecution, issued in 1897 and enforcing the Highway Act of 1835, many people were fined for playing football in the streets on the two following Shrove Tuesdays.

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