The 100 years vil­lage cricket match

Lo­cal his­to­rian Don­ald Stan­ley writes about a cricket match that was com­pleted 100 years after the out­break of the First World War forced its aban­don­ment

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - PEOPLE AND PLACES -

TcrickeT HROUGH the years, there have been many in­stances of play in vil­lage t matches be­ing sus­pended be­cause of in­clement weather. Howl­ing gales, driv­ing rain and even hail have fre­quently caused play­ers to go scur­ry­ing for the shel­ter of the pavil­ion.

And it was a heavy shower of rain that ini­tially caused the teams from The Lee vil­lage cricket club and the Manor House, the home of the Lib­erty fam­ily that founded the fa­mous Re­gent Street store which bears their name, to head for shel­ter back on Au­gust 3, 1914.

But that in­ter­rup­tion grew into some­thing much more se­ri­ous as it be­came ob­vi­ous that Eng­land would de­clare war to at­tempt to curb the ex­pan­sion­ist plans of Ger­many.

Two of the play­ers tak­ing part that day – vil­lage fast bowler, Al­bert Phillips, and Ivor Ste­wart-Lib­erty from the Manor House – vowed to fin­ish the match once the small mat­ter of deal­ing with the Huns was out of the way.

Joined by two of his brothers, who were fel­low play­ers, Phillips went off to serve his coun­try, as did Ste­wartLib­erty, but only Ivor sur­vived. Ivor Arthur Ste­wart was the son of Don­ald Ste­wart and Ada Re­becca Lib­erty.

Born in Che­sham in 1843 Ada’s brother, Arthur Lasenby Lib­erty, started work at the age of 16 and was ap­pren­ticed to a draper. He spe­cialised in women’s fash­ions and in 1875 opened his own shop in Re­gents Street where the fab­rics he sold be­came syn­ony­mous with the Art Nou­veau move­ment of the 1890s.

From 1892, he lived in the Manor House in The Lee and as Lord of the Manor he car­ried out many im­prove­ments to the vil­lage in­clud­ing the pro­vi­sion of fresh wa­ter, and work on the Parish Church, vil­lage green and cricket and foot­ball pitches.

Arthur had no chil­dren and chose as his heir Ada’s son, Ivor, who took the name Ste­wart-Lib­erty. The fam­ily’s con­nec­tion with the store ceased in the 1990s but Ivor and his fam­ily had con­tin­ued his un­cle’s con­tri­bu­tion to the life of the vil­lage, The Lee Manor Es­tate be­com­ing a ma­jor em­ployer.

When the Royal Navy’s last wooden war­ship – HMS Im­preg­nable (for­merly HMS Howe) – was bro­ken up in 1921, Ivor used its tim­bers for the mock Tu­dor ex­ten­sion to the London store but de­cided to bring the fig­ure­head – a de­pic­tion of Ad­mi­ral Lord Howe, back to his new home The Pipers at The Lee.

The aban­doned cricket match was fi­nally com­pleted when the cur­rent mem­bers of The Lee cricket club in­vited a team rep­re­sent­ing the Manor House to play out the game.

As it hap­pened, the Manor House won the match scor­ing 180 to The Lee’s 169 runs – but in truth the re­sult of the match was less im­por­tant than the fact that it was played in mem­ory of the men who gave their lives to en­sure that we had the free­dom to play a typ­i­cally English game in a typ­i­cally English vil­lage.

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