Horsham author revisits ‘Country House Cricket’

David Boorman
David Boorman

The refined life of Country House Cricket has been brought back to life in a new book by Horsham author David Boorman.

avid, who has written books on the history of village side Nuthurst CC and a celebration of a century of County Cricket at Horsham, delves into the history of cricket in St Leonard’s Forest in his latest publication ‘Cricket in The Forest’.

The book charts the history of Jack McGaw, who hosted several Country House Cricket festivals at Forest Grange, on land next to what is now Whitevayne Fishery to the East of Horsham - it was once Forest Grange School, which closed in 1991.

The 182 page book is packed full of facts and figures about the festivals which were held between 1924 and 1931, plus the history of the McGaw family.

The country was fast descending into an economic crisis after the First World War when Jack McGaw started cricket at Forest Grange, at a time when Country House Cricket was dying out.

And David’s interest in researching his book was pricked while researching his book on Nuthurst in 2008.

“I got thinking, why did Country House Cricket come to St Leonard’s Forest, why did he do this?” David said. “It was curiosity provoked by the fact Nuthurst played these teams.

“This guy bought the house then decided he would build a cricket ground and invite the great and the good down to play cricket there.

“He had local teams, plus university and public school sides, there would be a fortnight of two day games, and then a week’s worth of games against the likes of Sussex Police and Pease Pottage, who were quite a good team at the time.

“It started out of nowhere, and disappeared again into nowhere.

“The country was perched on the edge of an economic abyss, but he decided I would recreate Country House Cricket and he did it for eight years before it disappeared again.”

David started work on his book in 2010, self publishing a limited number of 60 copies, printed by Horsham’s The printed Word.

“I know it’s not going to be a best-seller,” he said. “But it’s got a local twist and people may recognise people and places.”