CROQUET in Church Stretton
There are many special and surprising aspects to Church Stretton and one of these is that it has an established croquet club affiliated to the National Croquet Association. Although it is now an international game, there are a limited number of clubs across the UK and only a few in the Midlands, located in much larger towns such as Kenilworth, Edgbaston, Stourbridge and Shrewsbury.
So what is the game all about? Where did it come from? Why Church Stretton?
What is it all about?
Most people have at some time enjoyed a game of croquet with a lawn croquet set and will know that it is to do with hitting coloured balls through hoops with mallets. There are however a number of different forms of the game. Association Croquet played to Croquet Association rules is generally viewed among players as the most fascinating and rewarding
The game can be quite challenging, with the potential to develop skills similar to those of both snooker players and bowlers and using chess type strategy and tactics. While these skills are developed over time, beginners can quite quickly enjoy rewarding games, thanks to an effective handicapping system. It is therefore an accessible game for a wide spectrum of people, young and old, with varying degrees of physical skill.
Where did the game come from?
The earliest origins are a bit of a mystery. There are reports of games being played with sticks, balls and hoops as far back as 800 years ago. Similar games with different rules were played in Holland and France in the 17th Century, but they bear little resemblance to the modern game. The earliest recognisable form of croquet appears to have been played in Ireland from the 1830’s and imported to England in the 1850’s.
The game grew in popularity amongst a social elite and the first club was founded in Worthing in 1860 .The game spread along the South Coast and into the South West and then gradually northwards The first recognised tournament was held in Evesham in 1867 and a year later the All England Croquet Club was formed at Wimbledon.
Croquet and Tennis
Croquet thrived at Wimbledon in the early days, but it was challenged by a new game called “Sphairistike (Sphairistike is an ancient Greek term for ˜skill in playing at ball”). In 1874 this game was patented and its popularity took off after it was more successfully marketed as “Lawn Tennis”.
Tennis took over the club and as we know there are no games of croquet played on Centre Court today! The name however remains as “The All England Croquet and Tennis Club” and one croquet lawn has survived.
The present day Croquet Association emerged after a resurgence of the game prior to the First World War. The Association was firstly located at the Hurlingham Club in London and since 2002 at Cheltenham Croquet Club.
Croquet in The Strettons
In recent decades croquet has become accessible to a wider section of society and has grown in popularity. A club was formed in Church Stretton in 1992 by a group of enthusiasts introduced to the game by local resident Fred Smith. Fred continued to assist the growth of the club, particularly conducting the training of new players.
The Club was based initially at the Long Mynd Hotel until 2006 when changes at the hotel prompted a move .A temporary home was found at Acton Scott Hall. In 2007 the Club was allotted the use of a lawn at the Town Park .This helped integration into the community and remains the home today.
In 2012 a second lawn was created. Access to two lawns is a requirement for participation in league matches .A team is now entered in the West Midlands League and has enjoyed some very good results.
The popularity of croquet continues to increase . Whereas it was once viewed as being only for the wealthy, the game is now more widely accessible and easily affordable. All that is required is a pair of flat shoes and a mallet (loaned to new players for initial training).
Anybody can turn up to seek a game on the Club Afternoons, every Tuesdayand Sunday from 2.0 pm, and games at other times are arranged through a booking system on the members’ section of the website.
The Club runs an introductory training course in April and anybody showing interest in the game later in the year can be given some individual coaching.
More information about training and joining can be obtained from the
Club Secretary - Fane Conant (01694 722610)
Affiliated to The Croquet Association
Church Stretton Croquet Club