In the year 1880 a paragraph appeared in the Chulmleigh Deanery Magazine relating to a proposed Cricket Club and to “express the hope that many young men will be able, by joining the Club, to partake in this manly and healthful recreation”. The response was very encouraging and at a subsequent meeting the Club was founded and a subscription of two shillings and sixpence was levied.
The first game was played on June 2nd 1880 against Crediton Grammar School at Crediton, and resulted in a victory for the newly formed Chulmleigh Club by thirty runs. The first home game, against Devon County School (now West Buckland School) played on 25th June 1880 also resulted in a win, this time by sixty-four runs.
The Club flourished and teams from near and far were entertained. It played at a variety of grounds until 1939 including Handsford Barton, Wallingbrook School, Park Mill Meadow in the Little Dart valley and a field by the A377 between Chawleigh Week and Eggesford (shared with a Tennis Club).
Since 1946 the Club have used the current ground at Great Mill Park Chulmleigh by courtesy of the Southcombe family who, over three generations, have been supporters of and benefactors to the club. The Old Thatched Pavilion was opened in 1947. The original Right to Use the site was granted by Mr C. Southcombe in 1946 and formalised in a lease by his son Gordon, who also played for the club over many years, in March 1973. In 2000, Mrs K. Southcombe had the lease redrawn and added access and parking rights for a period of 999 years.
The original thatched pavilion, and the ground, was opened with a match against Bude Cricket Club on 10th May 1947. 1958’s Match Programme shows how active the club was in the local area around this time. Since that time the Club has greatly improved its facilities and now has a well equipped modern pavilion. After an intensive Fund Raising campaign the club re-built the Thatched Pavilion in 2008. This was formally opened in 2009 by members of the Southcombe family and named The Southcombe Pavilion.
In 2010 the family agreed to add further land to the lease to enable the club to build a double bay net facility behind the pavilions and extend the area in which the club has right to park. We are now in the process of seeking funds to add these facilities plus an artificial wicket on the west side of the square.
In keeping with most cricket clubs of the 1880s, the officers and members were predominantly comprised of professional people. This situation prevailed for many years but gradually it gave way as the Club opened its doors to all interested parties. Today we welcome players of all ages and abilities, and from all backgrounds.
Transport to away games, certainly before and in fact for some time after the First World War, was a problem. In 1909 the members set out at 9.30am in two sets of coach and four for Exmouth, not arriving home again until gone midnight. As more roads in the area were surfaced the motor car slowly put in an appearance and an era, which spanned the last World War, heralded more motor transport. These were the days when a player of modest ability could have a profound influence upon the selection committee, providing he owned a motor car!
Although the game of cricket has in some ways been modified, it is still fundamentally the same as ever. We are conscious of the debt we owe to those who have gone before and consequently we do our best to achieve the aims and aspirations of our forebears. As we move into the 21st Century our aim is to continue to “partake in this healthful and manly recreation” and provide enjoyment for our members, opponents and the local community.
Information provided by Arthur Vaughan-Williams, Hon. Life Member.