Silent Voices from the Lord's Pavilion (MCC)
Lecture by Howard Hanley, FSA.
English Heritage described cricket pavilions as quintessential images of English national identity, and rewarded the most famous of them all—the Victorian era Lord’s Cricket Ground pavilion—with a Grade II listing. But Lord’s is more than an English icon; the ground symbolises more than just the English identity: Cricket by the late 19th century had become an international sport and, especially, the ongoing England-Australian rivalry began in earnest. It seems that almost everything that could be uncovered about this series—the Ashes—has been discussed and written about. So it was very surprising to find out that few people are aware that members of the Australian cricket teams at the turn of the 19th century had scratched their initials or signatures on the balustrade of the terracotta balcony fronting their dressing room at the pavilion. These initials serve as a key that unlocks a series of fascinating stories about the cricketers themselves, and about the time in which they lived. One player is the legendary Victor Trumper. Shown are the initials he scraped on the balcony in 1899, superimposed on the photograph of him in action—one of the most famous sporting images, ever. Another is a player who set fire to a newspaper during a match to keep warm. There are more.
The lecture will discuss this rediscovery at Lord’s and what is being done to preserve this important part of the material, and social, history of cricket—the Australian signatures scrawled more than 100 years ago when the players had nothing better to do.
Photo: George W. Beldam, Swan Electric Engraving Company, London, 1905. Melbourne Cricket Club Library.
This lecture is free and open to all, but space is limited and advanced reservations are recommended.