Barton's Tom Porter with author Roger Mann

How it all began on Chapel Hill

Torbay Weekly

In ‘The Meadow at Chapel Hill Cross’, Roger Mann does not just record what local cricket was like in the Victorian era, but also immerses the reader in this world.

Have you ever wondered what it must have been like to umpire a match in which the bowlers wore top hats, and gentlemen thought that wearing pads and gloves was beneath their dignity?

The Meadow at Chapel Hill Cross takes you back to the opening of the first “proper” cricket ground in Torquay, and to the match against the famous All England Eleven which celebrated it.

The author dreams that he is asked to umpire this match, and takes the reader with him into a world of cunning under-arm bowlers, and round-arm pacemen who hurl “tosses” at the batsman’s head. You get to listen to the chat of some of the finest cricketers in the game’s history, Old Clarke, George Parr, and the laugh-a-minute Billy Buttress.

Neither umpires, nor the world’s leading professionals, are allowed into the sanctity of the members’ pavilion, so the author must glimpse through the doorways, and spend his time, sharing jugs of ale with those who attracted thousands to watch, yet were deemed unworthy of a gentleman’s company.

A memory of cricketing history
A memory of cricketing history

Welcome to a world of cricket where sheep crop the grass, the groundsman stamps the turfs, the fielders chase “booth balls”, and boundaries are not even dreamed of!

It is a world which will fascinate you, and a journey that you will always remember!

About the book, the author says: “My book doesn’t just record local cricket of the 1840s & 1850s, it takes the reader into the hurly-burly of the matches themselves. This has never been attempted in such detail before with matches of the early Victorian era.”

Roger Mann has been a cricket fanatic since the age of 12, and has been both Chairman of Devon Schools C.A. and Chairman of Devon Coaches Association. He began and managed his own cricket coaching school for nearly thirty years, as well as assembling a world-famous collection of memorabilia.

The book is available to purchase from Barton CC and will go toward ground improvements at Cricketfield Road.

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