Historical find unearths a key look into sporting past

editorial image
Share this article

A 120-year-old photograph found in the possessions of a former Lincolnshire umpire has shone new light on 
Victorian sport in Sudbury.

It is the only known picture of a team playing on a meadow at the back of the town’s Angel Inn in Friars Street.

In the 1880s the town’s cricketers played on Angel Meadow, which was also known as Gas Works Meadow or Nonsuch Meadow.

Travelling circuses and other outdoor public entertainments were also staged on the land behind the inn.

The decade saw the town cricket club thrive in such a manner it was able to open its own ground across the road beside Quay Lane in 1891.

Among individuals on the recently-uncovered picture are famous local publicans Joseph George and William Bailey, who over several decades ran the town’s leading inns.

George was landlord of the Rose and Crown in King Street and Bailey the Four Swans in North Street. Both men captained the cricket club at various times and were prominent Freemasons. Bailey was also a town alderman.

It was through Bailey’s granddaughter Val Bailey, of Norwich, that the picture came to light.

She recently wrote to Sudbury freemasonry historian Peter Thorogood researching details on her grandfather.

Thorogood was able to furnish her with an 1890s team picture from Sudbury Cricket Club, but although it featured Joseph George, by then William Bailey had retired from the game.

However, she subsequently came up with a 1880s team picture found in the possessions of her late cousin Kenneth Hack, who had been an amateur cricket umpire in Lincolnshire.

The picture was taken in front of a marquee in Angel Meadow and featured William Bailey (far left, back row) and Joseph George (standing centre and wearing a cap and pads). No other players in the photograph have been identified.

Alan Cocksedge, cricket club historian, said: “This picture is a very significant discovery because previous accounts of the game being played behind the inn have amounted to sketchy references in old newspapers.

“To actually have a photograph is very special, particularly as it features Bailey and George, who were towering figures in the club, as well as in the town.”

n Do you know anyone in this photograph? Email russell.claydon@suffolkfreepress.co.uk