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Nevill Ground

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Nevill Ground
Nevill Ground - geograph-1895670.jpg
The pavilion of the Nevill Ground
Ground information
Location Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England
Coordinates 51°07′20″N 0°16′05″E / 51.12222°N 0.26806°E / 51.12222; 0.26806Coordinates: 51°07′20″N 0°16′05″E / 51.12222°N 0.26806°E / 51.12222; 0.26806
Establishment 1898 (1898)
Capacity 6,000 [1]
Owner Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
End names
Pavilion End
Railway End
International information
Only ODI 18 June 1983:
 India v  Zimbabwe
Team information
Tunbridge Wells CC (1898–present)
Kent (1901–present)
As of 15 December 2007
Source: CricketArchive

The Nevill Ground is a cricket venue located in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England. It is owned by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and is used by Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club as well as annually for Tunbridge Wells Cricket Week by Kent County Cricket Club. It was opened in 1898 and was first used by Kent in 1901 and has been used by them annually since then, despite a suffragette arson attack that destroyed the pavilion in 1913.

It played host to one One Day International during the 1983 Cricket World Cup, the group stage match between India and Zimbabwe in which Kapil Dev made a score of 175 not out. The Nevill Ground is known for having rhododendron bushes around the perimeter.[2]


The Nevill Ground was established in 1895 after the purchase of the land by the Tunbridge Wells Cricket, Football and Athletic Club, with assistance from the Bluemantle Cricket Club. It was purchased on a 99-year lease from the Marquess of Abergavenny as the land was part of his Eridge Park estate. The Nevill Ground was named after William Nevill, 1st Marquess of Abergavenny.[3] Building of the ground's facilities started in 1896 with it being officially opened by the Marquess of Abergavenny in 1898.[3] In the early 20th century, the county boundary between Kent and East Sussex ran through the Nevill Ground's pitch.[4] Rhododendron bushes were also planted in the Nevill Ground's early history.[5] The rhododendrons around the pitch are considered by cricket commentators as one of the defining images of the Nevill Ground.[6] The end opposite the pavilion is known as the Railway End due to the Hastings Line running close by that end of the ground.[2]

The first pavilion was designed by architect C. H. Strange.[7] It was built in 1903 at a cost of £1,200 and was destroyed in a suffragette arson attack in April 1913. During the First World War, the Nevill Ground was requisitioned by the British army to graze cavalry horses. This damaged the pitch and it took a few years for it to recover.[2] During the Second World War, the Nevill Ground was again requisitioned for military purposes, this time to hold soldiers.[8] In 1946, ownership of the ground was transferred from the Tunbridge Wells Cricket, Football and Athletic Club to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.[5]

In 1995, a permanent brick stand was built and became known as the Bluemantle Stand after the Bluemantle Cricket Club members who helped to build it. The Bluemantle Stand was built on the site of the original pavilion.[9] Every Tunbridge Wells Cricket Week, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council erects a temporary grandstand at the Nevill Ground.[10]

The side of the Bluemantle Stand
The Bluemantle Stand

1913 arson[edit]

The Nevill Ground pavilion after the 1913 arson attack

On 11 April 1913, the cricket pavilion was burnt down by militant suffragettes due to Kent having a policy of no-admittance to women. The fire was started in the dressing rooms with the perpetrator setting fire to cricket nets that were being stored in there.[11] The fire was discovered by a passing lamplighter. The fire brigade extinguished the fire in an hour, too late to save the pavilion. In front of the remains of the pavilion, firemen found suffragette literature, an electric lantern and a picture of Emmeline Pankhurst.[12] The fire also destroyed photographs of the first Canterbury Cricket Week and the Bluemantle Cricket Club's archives.[13] The attack may have been provoked by a comment from an unknown Kent official who is reported to have said "It is not true that women are banned from the pavilion. Who do you think makes the teas?"[14]

There was an angry reaction to the attack locally and nationally. The National League for Opposing Woman Suffrage held a meeting in the town with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle attending, where he called the suffragettes "female hooligans"[12] and compared the attack to "blowing up a blind man and his dog".[12][15] A new pavilion was built using the original designs[7] after a series of fund raising concerts at the Opera House at a cost of £1,200. Construction was finished in 9 weeks, being completed hours before Kent were due to play at the Tunbridge Wells Cricket Week in July 1913.[12] Nevill Ground was the only cricket ground to be attacked by suffragettes.[16]


The Nevill Ground is used regularly by Kent Cricket League team, Tunbridge Wells CC.[17] It is also used to host field hockey and is used by Tunbridge Wells Hockey Club.[18] It was formerly used to host association football however the Nevill Ground stopped hosting football in 1903.[3] It is also home to the town's athletics club Tunbridge Wells Harriers.[19] Kent County Cricket Club use the ground as one of its outgrounds for two or three County Matches a year. Two first-class matches were played every year until 1992, when the number was reduced to one. However, since the demise of Mote Park in Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells regained an extra fixture.[20][21]

The Nevill Ground was first used as an outground by Kent in 1901 at the behest of George Harris, 4th Baron Harris. In order to assist Kent, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council contribute £25,000 to cover the running costs of hosting Kent's games at the Nevill Ground.[10] The Nevill Ground was popular with Kent's players due to its surroundings and it was described by cricket historian, E. W. Swanton as "no mean contender for the most delectable English cricket ground."[22]

In 2012, Kent's Friends Life Twenty20 match against Sussex was moved to the St Lawrence Ground after the Nevill Ground was flooded after heavy rainfall leading to the 100th Tunbridge Wells Cricket Week being cut short.[23]

1983 World Cup[edit]

The Nevill Ground was selected as one of the host grounds for the 1983 Cricket World Cup. It hosted one group stage match between India and Zimbabwe on 18 June 1983. Kapil Dev scored 175 not out after India were 9–4, which helped India win by 31 runs and qualify into the semi-finals, thus avoiding a play-off against Australia.[24] Dev's partnership with Syed Kirmani set a world record for the largest ninth wicket stand of 126.[24] This match led to the Nevill Ground being held in high regard by Indian cricket fans[25] with there being a view that the game at the Nevill Ground inspired a change in the way cricket was played in India. This led to players such as Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid playing for India in later years.[26]

There was no official footage taken of the match since the BBC was on strike on the day of the match,[27] the Nevill Ground being ruled as too small with India and Zimbabwe being deemed too "irrelevant" for a camera crew to be sent to the match.[28] Despite this there were reports of an Indian who filmed unofficial coverage of the match with a camcorder. The tape was purchased by Dev after the match for an unknown amount.[29] However, it has been claimed that this is an urban legend and that there was no proof of this occurring.[28]

In 2008, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the game, Dev returned to the Nevill Ground to film a news segment. Afterwards he was welcomed by representatives of Kent County Cricket Club and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.[25]

1993 Women's World Cup[edit]

In 1993, The Nevill Ground was selected as one of the venues used in the 1993 Women's Cricket World Cup. It hosted one match between Australia and the West Indies, which Australia won by 8 wickets.[30]



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  17. ^ "Shepherd Neame Kent Cricket League Premier Division 2012". CricketArchive. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
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  19. ^ "First Royal Tunbridge Wells Sainsbury's Sports Relief Mile a great success". Tunbridge Wells Borough Council. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
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  30. ^ "9th Match: Australia Women v West Indies Women at Tunbridge Wells, Jul 24, 1993". ESPN. 24 July 1993. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
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  34. ^ Records tumble at Tunbridge Wells, Kent County Cricket Club, 2015-07-22. Retrieved 2015-09-30.