The Cricket Field

An engraving by C. Benoist, after an Oil painting by Francis Hayman, RA, 1756. This is a very important and much copied work of art. The original by Hayman is now lost but used to hang in a supper box at Vauxhall Gardens (opened 1735). The painting has come to be known as Cricket at the Artillery Ground but this is a misnomer. The pictures was once described as A Game of Cricket as played in the Artillery Ground, the Ground of the Honourable Artillery Company being the most famous of its day, and the misunderstanding arose from that. In fact, the Artillery Ground was walled in at some point in the 17th Century.

Another painting by Hayman, this time the original survives on the MCC collection. It is known as A Cricket Match at Mary-le-bone Fields, 1740, oil on canvas 88 x 108 cm.

The set-up of the game is similar to the painting above, the one wrongly associated with the Artillery Ground. The main difference is that this is a double-wicket match, that is to say, there are two batsmen. Also, the field looks more widely spread and players are wearing white breaches.

This is an example of the one many painting produced from Beonist’s engraving. Several things may be noted:

  • It is a single wicket match, only one striker is on the field
  • There is a very small two-stump wicket, with a grove for the bails
  • The players are elegantly attired and striking graceful poses, suggesting a game for gentlemen.
  • This is particularly notable for the umpires (blue coats) and scorer red coat). I am not sure the role of the chap with blue trousers.
  • The ball is being rolled, not exactly on the ground as there is a gap between the ball and its shadow, but very close to it.
  • The curved bat is raised high, a powerful strike seems to be the intention.
  • No sign of a popping hole in the centre of the wicket.

Lords and Gentlemen of Surrey and Kent playing cricket at Knole Park, Kent, 1775. Artist not known.

An Exact Representation of the Game of Cricket, c 1743, Louis-Phillipe Boitard, possibly WR Coates

Note the fence at the boundary with a handful of spectators behind it. The scorers are very clearly positioned within the field of play, this seems to have been a common feature of cricket of the time.

Supposedly, a 1,000 guinea contest at the Dorset Square Lord’s Ground between the Earl of Danley’s team and the Earl of Winchilsea’s. The hill in the background doesn’t however look like it is London – perhaps that is just artistic license.

‘The Gentlemen’s Club’ playing on White Conduit Fields, 1784, believed to by Robert Dighton.

An unusual example of a painting with identifiable topographic details beyond the field itself. White Conduit House and Grounds were an important 17th Century leisure facility for the less well-off classes. The site of the central building is now on Penton Street, Islington.

White Conduit House, EH Dixon, (1831). The circular-fronted building is the tea-room. The fenced white building in the foreground is the remains of the Conduit House.

A game of cricket, 1790. Sometimes associated with Hambledon, but, in truth, location unknown. I like the way the non-strikers is keeping his bat in the crease as the bowler starts his run. The fear of Mankading was present, even then.

From a broadsheet of The Noble Game of Cricket. Supposedly 1809 but the match depicted clearly pre-dates the 19th Century.

Handkerchief with The Laws of the Noble Game of Cricket printed around the edge

Cricket at Mousely Hurst, c 1790. A very lively scene of a cricket match in Surrey, on a great near a village centre by the Thames.

A Game of Cricket (The Royal Academy Club in Marylebone Fields, now Regent’s Park). Between 1790 and 1800.

Thomas Rowlinson, Rural Sports, or A cricket Match Extraordinary (1811)

Cricket at White Conduit Fields. The large building in the background is the Islington Workhouse.

The Countess of Derby and friends playing cricket, 1779, by ‘T.H.’.

Cricket at Kenfield Hall, Kent, c 1760


Pollard – 1824 – provides a view of cricket close to the end of the Eighteenth Century. Round-arm bowling was still not legal, so, despite appearances, the bowler should be underarm. The wicket keeper appears to be taking the knee. The umpire is holding a bat, something that was no longer necessary after the introduction of the popping crease but persisted for many years thereafter.