Crowthorne Tennis Club - History

Crowthorne Tennis club is situated in the grounds of St. Sebastians field, which was at one time a part of the Great Forest of Windsor. Because poverty was rife and forest laws severe, the local people were known for being lawless and heathen!


Up until 2002, the tennis club lay behind the Who'd-A-Tho't-It pub, which was said to have been given its name by the First Duke of Wellington who, after a hard day's hunting, stopping in a clearing with just a few houses, requested water for his men and horses. On being offered ALE (for him & his men not the horses) he is alleged to have uttered the immortal words " By Gad, who would have thought it? "


In those days, the only occupation open to the local people was that of broomdashers. This involved cutting twigs in the forest and making them into brooms or besoms, which were then sold in Reading or as far away as Bristol. Occasionally, descendants of these diligent souls may be found on a Sunday morning sweeping the leaves off the courts before play begins


The tennis club itself was formed in the 1960s by a group of local families who used the facilities at the local Edgebarrow school. It later moved to its first permanent base at Morgan Recreation Ground, just outside the grounds of Broadmoor Hospital, where it had two courts. As the club became more established and started to enter teams in the Berkshire League competitions but it soon became apparent that, in those days, a minimum of three courts was required for most matches.

Sufficient land was not available at the Morgan Centre for a third court but hearing about the club's dilemma, the Trustees of St. Sebastians offered four courts in the grounds of St. Sebastians Field and, since 1990, this has been the home of Crowthorne Tennis Club.


In 1996, with the aid of a Lottery grant, floodlights were installed on two courts and in 2003 the floodlighting was extended to include all four courts.


The modern pavilion at the bottom of the field offers excellent changing facilities and the presence of a bar and small kitchen allows the Tennis Club to host social events during the year. The pavilion is also the venue for other clubs including Scrabble and Bridge.


Up until September 2001, the court-side facilities were somewhat less than grand! The hut, which was physically moved by the members to its present location many years ago, had suffered the ravages of time. Plans to replace this with slightly more commodious accommodation came to fruition in September 2001 (yes, 9/11!), when the present clubhouse was installed with the assistance of the Army crane school.


Crowthorne Village

The village of Crowthorne owes its existence to the proximity of Wellington College and Broadmoor Hospital, round which the village has grown. Wellington College, built about 1859, is a national memorial to the Duke of Wellington, whose name and those of his generals find echoes in the titles of roads and inns of the neighbourhood, e.g. Duke's Ride and the Iron Duke.


Broadmoor Hospital was built about the same time on a high spur of the ground near Caesar's Camp. According to an old resident, the former inhabitants of the district were known as Broom Squires or Broom Dashers, whom he described as 'good-living people, having a semi-underground life, all of whom had an altar of sods with bits of glass stuck in the top'. Such were the 'Aborigines' of Crowthorne.


The Devil's Highway, a Roman road, crosses the village and two Roman milestones are in existence still. Although most buildings are modern, one Tudor cottage remains in the woods towards Owlsmoor. Crowthorne would appear to have wider boundaries than is expected, being bounded on one side by Owlsmoor, formerly called Newfoundland after an original squatter called New with numerous progeny; and on the other by California.


Crowthorne, once part of the Parish of Sandhurst, acquired its name because the postal authorities wished to give it a name to facilitate deliveries from Wokingham, instead of York Town, Surrey (which with Cambridge Town became known as Camberley). 'Albertonville' had been suggested in honour of the Prince Consort, but luckily the suggestion of 'Crowthorne', after some thorn trees at Brookers Corner, at the top of the village, was adopted. In the Domesday Book, Crowthorne Farm appears as a separate holding in the Royal Forest of Windsor, although the present farm holdings do not date back to the days of William the Conqueror.


Three men who died in the Crimean War at the famous charge of the Light Brigade are buried in the old churchyard.


Go to the Gallery for more pictures.

St. Sebastian's pavillion

St. Sebastian's pavilion


Aerial view of Crowthorne Tennis Club courts and cricket pitch

Aerial view of courts and cricket pitch