THE GOLDEN AGE - 1750 to 1787

For nearly 30 years, Broadhalfpenny Down was the centre of the Cricketing world. The hospitable Richard Nyren, owner of the 'Bat & Ball' and one of the foremost players of the time, provided the headquarters for the Hambledon Club; a place of much feasting and carousing for the top cricketers of the day.

This happy brotherhood took on and beat the Rest of England in a series of matches for enormous wagers watched by huge crowds. The Hambledon Club established and refined the laws of cricket. It was also responsible for developments in the game, such as length bowling, a third stump, and improving techniques.

By 1780 the Club moved to a less exposed site nearer the village and its influence on the game declined. As more cricket was being played in London, the centre of gravity inevitably moved from Hambledon and the Marylebone Cricket Club, formed in 1787, became the authority for the laws and the general governance of the game.


For over 100 years no cricket was played on Broadhalfpenny Down but its great days remained an inspiration and fond in the memory of those who cherished the heritage of the game. Amongst these was the legendary C B Fry, who revived the playing of cricket on the ground in 1908. Today many cricket lovers come from far and wide to make a special pilgrimage to this famous ground.

In the 1920s Winchester College bought the freehold with the aim of encouraging more regular play on the ground. This aim was not fully realised until the Royal Naval Signal School at HMS Mercury took over the lease after the Second World War and some of its officers founded the Broadhalfpenny Brigands CC in 1958.


The Broadhalfpenny Brigands CC was set up to restore the playing of cricket regularly on the historic Down. Although originally under the auspices of the Royal Navy, since the mid 1970s it has been independent and now embraces members with a variety of interests. The Brigands have always sought to play their cricket in a spirit of jovial comradeship mixed with keen competition and to extend a warm welcome to the many visiting teams and spectators who come to enjoy sharing in the delights of cricket on Broadhalfpenny Down.

The Club took on the ground lease in 1992 and has full responsibility for looking after and managing the ground. It works closely with the Broadhalfpenny Down Association, which it helped to set up. 


The Association is responsible for raising funds to secure the long-term future of Broadhalfpenny Down for cricket. It was set up in 1996 on the initiative of the Brigands and Winchester College, which owns the ground. Its management committee includes representatives of Brigands CC, The Cricket Society, The English Schools Cricket Association, Hambledon CC, Hampshire CCC, The MCC and Winchester College. These members are independent of their parent organisations and are united in the furtherance of BHDA's aims: to look after and improve Broadhalfpenny Down for the benefit of all who wish to enjoy cricket here and to encourage young cricketers.

The Association's efforts are supported by a distinguished group of patrons, drawn from the major Test playing countries.


An appeal launched by BHDA in March 1998, raised over £100,000 with contributions from more than 400 individuals, trusts, institutions and clubs from all over the world. This enabled water and electricity supplies to be provided, the new pavilion, with provision for the disabled, to be built and a marquee extending the facilities available for special occasions to be bought.

Further donations from the Michael May Young Cricketers' Foundation, The Cricket Society Trust, The Lords Taverners, The Hampshire Playing Fields Association and from guests invited to celebrate Bob Barber's 70th birthday enabled a non-turf wicket and net to be laid in 2005.  In 2006 Fuller, Smith & Turner made a major contribution to the provision of wicket covers. All these improvements have greatly enhanced the facilities available for encouraging young cricketers. 


Improvements since 1998 have made Broadhalfpenny Down available to a wider range of players including ladies, the young and the disadvantaged. BHDA expects to host over 20 matches on the ground during 2006 and the demand is continually growing.  These include ladies teams, young cricketers in the age groups from under 9 to 16, some with learning difficulties and others from inner cities. It hopes in the future to welcome matches for the disabled.


With the constantly increasing demand, BHDA needs to raise further funds to continue the improvement of facilities.  For details of how you can help, please turn to the 'Support' page.


The successors to the great Broadhalfpenny Down players of the 18th century now play on Ridge Meadow a mile and a half closer to the village of Hambledon. Today's club is able to call on many fine players, who have enjoyed triumphs of their own.  These included reaching the final of the Village Cricket Knock-Out Cup played at Lords in 1989. They also put a great deal of effort into running an extensive and successful coaching programme. It is most appropriate that, since the summer of 2004 they have had the use of greatly improved facilities at 'The Cradle of Cricket'.

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