Rectory Field

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Rectory Field
Ground information
Location Blackheath, Royal Borough of Greenwich
Coordinates 51°28′41″N 0°01′41″E / 51.478°N 0.028°E / 51.478; 0.028Coordinates: 51°28′41″N 0°01′41″E / 51.478°N 0.028°E / 51.478; 0.028
Home club Blackheath Football Club
Establishment 1883
Owner Blackheath Sports Club
Team information
Blackheath Football Club (1883–2016)
Kent County Cricket Club (1887–1972)
Blackheath Cricket Club (1886–present)
As of 30 August 2016
Source: CricInfo

Rectory Field is a sports ground in Blackheath in the Royal Borough of Greenwich in south-east London. It was developed in the 1880s by Blackheath Cricket, Football and Lawn Tennis Company and became the home ground of rugby union team Blackheath F.C. between 1883 and 2016.[1] The ground has hosted international rugby matches and at one time, along with the Richmond Athletic Ground, it was the unofficial home of the England national rugby union team before the development of Twickenham Stadium. The ground was also used for first-class and List A cricket by Kent County Cricket Club between 1887 and 1972.

The field is named after the Charlton Rectory that once stood at the site. It is used today by Blackheath Sports Club for cricket, rugby, tennis and squash.[2][3]

Establishment[edit]

Located slightly away from the centre of Blackheath, Rectory Field is situated east of Greenwich Park. Before the adoption of the ground sport had been played on the Blackheath grounds, or Heath, for many years. Blackheath Football Club played on the Heath from 1871, but as the popularity of the sport grew, games began attracting crowds. After a match with Richmond was abandoned in 1877 due to a pitch invasion the club adopted a proper, demarked ground. One of the club members, Maurice Henry Richardson, knew of a part of the heath that was owned by his father and the club rented this part of the park for their matches. This pitch become known as Richardson's Field, and this playing ground hosted several internationals, including the first rugby match between England and Wales in 1881.

Richardson's Field was bought for commercial use in 1882–83, and the team were forced to find a new ground. The club captain, Lennard Stokes located a new ground for the club, just east of the old Richardson Field on the Charlton Road. This location was a 5 acres (2.0 ha) plot which would become the Rectory Field. Cricket was first played on the ground in 1886 after Blackheath Cricket Club secretary Montague Druitt negotiated the use of the Rectory Field during the summer months. With several sports now using the ground, the Blackheath Cricket, Football and Lawn Tennis Company was formed to provide amenities for the players.[4]

Rugby history[edit]

Blackheath Football Club first played at Rectory Field in 1883. The first match on the ground was against Guy's Hospital.

On 2 January 1886, Rectory Field hosted its first international rugby union match, with England facing Wales as part of the 1886 Home Nations Championship. With England withdrawing from international rugby in late 1887, the field was not used by the national team again until the arrival of the world's first touring Southern Hemisphere rugby team, the New Zealand Māori in 1889.[5] England continued to use three sites for international rugby, Rectory Field, the Athletic Ground in Richmond and Whalley Range in Manchester, but after 1900, only the two London locations were used. In 1910, Twickenham became the new stadium for the England team, but not before Rectory Field was allowed one last historic international when it hosted the first touring Australian rugby team in 1909.[6]

When the initial lease expired, the Rectory Field was in danger of being sold for commercial development. After £9,000 was raised through debentures, the field was purchased in 1921, providing a permanent home for the cricket and rugby teams. Directly after the World War II Richmond and Blackheath merged for a season, and several other teams were allowed the use of the grounds, including London Irish.

On 30 April 2016 Blackheath F.C. played their final first team game at the Rectory Field, defeating Blaydon 45–17.[7] After 133 years at the ground, the club had decided to move to their training ground, Well Hall in Eltham, for the 2016–17 season in order to boost revenue, although the ground remains in use by the club for other teams.[8][9]

Cricketing history[edit]

The first cricket match to be played on the Rectory Field was between Blackheath and G.G. Herane's XI on 26 April 1886, with the first county game was in 1887 when Blackheath hosted Surrey. Although most sport was abandoned during the two World Wars, cricket was still played to some extent on the Rectory. During the Second World War, the ground was hit by eight bombs, one landing on the tennis hard courts. In 1972 the venue was dropped as a county cricket ground, mainly due to the poor car parking provisions.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ A brief history of the Sports Club, Blackheath Sports Club. Retrieved 2016-08-30.
  2. ^ Blackheath Sports Club. Retrieved 2016-08-30.
  3. ^ More For Your Money: Rectory Field, London SE3, The Independent, 2006-08-01. Retrieved 2016-08-30.
  4. ^ Blackheath F.C. History
  5. ^ England vs. New Zealand Natives, match summary Scrum.com
  6. ^ England vs. Australia, match summary Scrum.com
  7. ^ "The Big Match: Blackheath v Blaydon". Blackheath Rugby. 29 April 2016. 
  8. ^ "BFC Executive Statement 9.12.15". Blackheath Rugby. 9 December 2015. 
  9. ^ "Blackheath to leave the Rectory Field". Rolling Maul. 10 December 2015. 

External links[edit]