Brent Mill, Dartford. Painting reproduced as a postcard. Mill demolished 1901
|Location||outside Dartford, Kent|
|Home club||Dartford Cricket Club|
Dartford Brent was an extensive area of common land on the outskirts of Dartford in Kent. Historically, it was the scene of a confrontation between King Henry VI and Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York in 1452; and in 1555 thousands of spectators were to witness the burning to death at the stake of Christopher Ward, a Dartford linen weaver, executed for his Protestant faith.
Part of Dartford Brent was a famous cricket venue in the 18th century and it was almost certainly in use in during the 17th century also. It was noted for the quality of its turf, which was said to be "as smooth as a bowling green".
Top-class cricket was played at Dartford Brent all through the 18th century and numerous references have survived from 1709 to 1795.
The All-England v Hampshire match played 27, 28 and 29 August 1795 (Hampshire won by 4 wickets) was the last time Dartford Brent is known to have been used for important matches. Games in Dartford after 1795 were played at Bowman’s Lodge on nearby Dartford Heath.
Campaign against closure
According to the club's website, an unsuccessful campaign was waged against the Brent's enclosure during the 1870s and the townspeople presented a petition to the Court of Common Council. Among other things, the petition held that a portion of the Brent had been used as the town cricket ground throughout the whole period of living memory; while the whole area had been "constantly resorted to for all sorts of past times and has been looked upon as the recreation ground of Dartford". The cricket ground at that time lay near the top of Brent Lane, somewhere across the road which passes alongside Hesketh Park.
Dartford Cricket Club still plays in the Kent League and its present ground at Hesketh Park is almost all that is left of the old Brent.
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