In 1841 a unique game of ice cricket was played in Chesham. This is the story...

Chesham Gentlemen

The first Chesham cricketers were known as The Chesham Gentlemen. From 1815, they played in the Park with the permission of William Lowndes of The Bury.

The Gentlemen were local tradesmen, businessmen, farmers, and innkeepers who played each other in friendly games as a pastime.

Typically two of the men were declared captains and they would pick sides, usually playing eleven, or sometimes twelve-a-side, or sometimes they played married men against single men.

After a game both teams would go to a local inn for a meal. These reports show that games were played in July, August and September.

First Away Game

When the Gentlemen played teams outside Chesham, games were played over two days, one home and one away.

The return game was usually a week later.

Afterwards, the secretary often submitted reports of the game to local newspapers, and the Sporting Chronicle.

The first Chesham cricket away game was 200 years ago on September 8, 1823.

The report read: “A match at Cricket was played on Monday last, at Gerrard’s Cross, between eleven Gentleman of Chesham and eleven of Chalfont St Peter’s.

Considerable interest was excited by this game, which had been long depending, and though the odds were much against the Chesham players, from their not being accustomed to contend with persons living beyond the precincts of their own town, they proved a match for the antagonists by winning the game with two wickets to go down.”

Chesham v Amersham Games

The first recorded Amersham away game was in 1822, when Amersham played Penn at Tylers Green.

Many of the early games played by Chesham Gentlemen were against Amersham, and the first recorded one was in 1831.

The local newspaper announced that “A grand cricket match is to take place on Monday August 16th in ‘The Park’ of W.M Lowndes Estate, Chesham.

The match between a party of Amersham gentlemen led by Mr Edward Tallant, a surgeon of Amersham and a like number of gentlemen of Chesham led by local businessman Thomas Webb, Brush Manufacturer.

‘It is expected there will be some capital play upon the occasion’”.

Amersham won the game by 156 runs over two innings.

The return match was played at Hand Meadow near Shardeloes at Amersham on Monday, August 29.

The Gentlemen

Local newspaper reports often recorded the names of the players and there was a fairly regular group of players through the 1820s, 1830s and 1840s.

One was Mr J. Dickinson, who was Mr Lowndes’ coachman.

A report from the 1833 Chesham v Amersham game wrote “J. Dickinson is looked upon as one of the first-rate bowlers in Buckinghamshire”.

Some were tradesmen such as Thomas Christmas who was a carpenter living at Hundridge, who later played for Tring; William Cox who was a brazier and tinplate worker; and Richard Spratley was a butcher.

Others were manufacturers: Joseph Birch was a shoe manufacturer; Thomas Mayo was a woodenware manufacturer; George Webb was a boot manufacturer; and Thomas Webb was a brush manufacturer.

John Sutthery was the farmer at Moor Farm, and later Milk Hall Farm.


Some of the Gentlemen were innkeepers, and after each game the teams would go to one of their inns for a meal.

William Christmas ran the Crown Inn in Chesham High Street, Chesham, (which closed in 1957).

He also umpired, and he died in Chesham in 1848.

Thomas Fassnidge ran the Queen’s Head in Church Street. He died in Chesham in 1856 aged 76. William Oldfield ran the Nag’s Head in Red Lion Street.

He became Sergeant of the Chesham Troop of the Bucks Yeomanry, and was noted as a good bowler, but about 1850 he moved to London.

Joseph William Geary ran the George Inn, (now called the George and Dragon) in the High Street.

In 1847 the local newspaper reported that Mr Geary “has played in nearly every match connected with Chesham during the last 32 years.”

He died in Chesham in 1870.

Cricket Grounds

Most of the local games in the 1830s and 1840s were against Amersham, Aylesbury, Hemel Hempstead, St Albans, Tring and West Wycombe.

The Gentlemen first played at the Park in Chesham, but from 1836 they played on Chesham Bois Common.

However, the most unusual place they played was on the frozen pond in Lowndes Park...

Ice Cricket

In mid-February 1841 a unique game of single-innings ice cricket was played on the frozen waters of Skottowe’s Pond in Chesham (which was then shallower and had no island).

Joseph W. Geary and John Sutthery were captains and each picked twelve players, who all wore skates.

Mr Geary’s side consisted of Messrs W. Barnes, W. Brandon, Spratley, Saunders, Thomas Christmas, William Christmas, R. Mayo, Ball, Loder, Birch and Winch.

Mr Sutthery’s side and consisted of Messrs Oldfield, Daniels, Giblin, Horwood, Lazenby, Cortis, Thomas Webb, Stratford, Stone, Aris and R. Webb.

Mr Geary’s team scored 62 runs, with 39 runs from Richard Spratley.

They were all bowled out by Sutthery or Webb. Mr Sutthery’s team scored 51 runs with 29 runs from Mr Cortis.

They were all bowled out by Geary or Spratley.

The report read: “At the close of the game a collation” (light informal meal) “was cooked on the ice”, which “was partaken of by the skaters and friends, after which the parties adjourned to the Crown Inn, where the evening was spent loyally and merrily.”

The newspaper report was entitled a “Novel Cricket Match” and the story was picked up and repeated in newspapers across the country.

The game was not the first, other games of ice cricket had been played elsewhere in England, but it was a first for Chesham and Bucks.

Chesham Cricket Club

Chesham Cricket Society was formed in October 1846, with Joseph W. Geary as treasurer, and the first secretary was John Watson Hardy, who was a medical student, but that is another story.