Lord’s cricket ground (2): The Ashes

Posted: April 28, 2015 in History, London, Sport, UK
Tags: ,
Museum window depicting Lord's ground

Museum window depicting Lord’s ground

The tour only takes in one item in the museum and that is one of the most famous sport’s trophies in the world – The Ashes. This is a trophy played for at test cricket between England and Australia.

The Ashes Urn

The Ashes Urn

It is only about 6 inches and is now very fragile

It dates back to 1882 when Australia won its first test victory in England. The Sporting Times horrified at the occurrence published a mock obituary:

In Affectionate Remembrance
which died at the Oval
29 August 1882,
Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing
friends and acquaintances
N.B.—The body will be cremated and the
ashes taken to Australia.

Ivo Bligh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ivo Bligh
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When England toured Australia the following winter, Ivo Bligh, the England captain declared that he had come to reclaim the Ashes and England duly won the series by two matches to one. Some ladies including Bligh’s future wife, Florence Morphy, presented him with a small urn as a trophy. There has been some debate about the contents but it has been established in more recent times that it is the ashes of a cricket bail (the small wooden rod which connects the top of the stumps).

The term ‘the Ashes’ for the test series between England and Australia took sometime to become generally used and it was not really until the England tour of 1903 that it became widely used. The Urn was never presented as the trophy (a popular misconception) and remained in Bligh’s keeping until he died in 1927 when it was presented to the MCC and later displayed in the Lord’s museum. In the 1990’s it was suggested that the urn should be awarded to the winning team who would keep it till the next series but amidst concerns for its fragile state and opposition from Ivo Bligh’s family it was finally agreed that a replica should be used and the original should remain in it’s case in the museum.

The urn has only travelled twice, both times to Australia. Once in 1988 as part of the Australian Bicentenary celebrations and again in 2006/7.

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