“When, in the 1860s, Queen Victoria stayed at Stoneleigh Abbey deep in Warwickshire’s rich countryside – as she often did when on business in the Midlands – she would always spend time at the upper windows, drinking in their sensational views.
That meadowland, set in a sylvan loop of the River Avon, remains unchanged to this day and at its heart is the plot on which Stoneleigh Cricket Club have played for 180 years. Laid out at the heart of the estate, at the end of a lime-lined avenue, the ground is gloriously inaccessible to intruders not present upon cricket business.
Lining one boundary is the magnificent Abbey building while at long-off stands the 14th century monastery, it’s gold-handed clock still insouciantly ticking the overs away as it has since Victoria parked her egregious frocks next door. If that side of the ground is a historian’s delight, the other three are a clamour of natural joys as thickly wooded glades sweep to the river.
At the ground’s southern end squats the tiny wooden pavilion. Electricity there ain’t – on September evenings players change by the flickering glow of a cigarette-lighter – but if you want peace, perfect peace, here it is.”
Brian Halford (2002)
Brian Halford has covered the fortunes of Warwickshire CCC for the Birmingham Post & Mail since 2000. Brian is the author of Warwickshire CCC On This Day, 100 Years of Test Match Cricket at Edgbaston, and The Year of the Bear, the story of Warwickshire’s championship triumph in 2004.