Broadhalfpenny Down was always an unlikely location for cricket ground; away from the village, on an exposed, uneven hilltop. Surprising perhaps that it was not until 1782 that the club acquired another ground. What was equally surprising was that this was also another hilltop ground, albeit a little closer to the village. This ground was at Windmill Down and it was here that they played their home matches for then onwards.
Unlike Broadhalfpenny Down however, there was no public house in the vicinity, but a club house was built which may well have served refreshments. This building is marked in a map of 1791, around what seems to be the south of the ground. There is no trace of this building now. No trace whatsoever.
The move to Windmill Down took place at the time when the centre of cricket was relocating to London. In fact, One of the principal patrons of the Hambledon Club, the Earl of Winchilsea, was instrumental in encouraging Thomas Lord to open a new ground in London in 1787, one which was to become the home of the famous Marylebone Cricket Club. Richard Nyren left the club in 1791 and the days of grand matches were nearly at an end. The Hambledon Club held its last meeting in 1796 attended by only three members. The club in fact reformed in 1800 and had several successful years, albeit reduced in status to a more normal village cricket club. This club itself suffered a decline in the 1820s and it seems that the last cricket took place there in 1836. The Cricket House was demolished and the field was ploughed over and forested in the 1880s. The summit is now split between arable land on the west and a large vineyard on the east.
After 1936, occasional games still took place involving the village, but the modern Hambledon Cricket Club properly traces its origins to a meeting in 1857. The ground adopted by the new club, one which is still used to this day, was at Ridge Meadow, Brook Lane, less than half a mile from Windmill Down, in the direction of Park House. The Club is thriving with a large youth membership, boys and girls, and strong representative teams.
Meanwhile, the Windmill Down ground is unmarked and all but forgotten. It takes finely-tuned sensibilities to detect the echo of the cricket of ages past.
|1||8 Aug 1782||Hampshire||England|
|2||5 Sep 1782||Hampshire||Sussex|
|3||8 Jul 1783||Hampshire||Kent|
|4||26 Aug 1783||Hampshire||England|
|5||19 Sep 1785||Hambledon||Farnham|
|6||13 Jul 1786||Hampshire||Kent|
|7||3 Sep 1787||Hampshire||Kent|
|8||13 Aug 1788||Hampshire||Surrey|
|9||13 Jul 1789||Hampshire||Kent|
|10||4 Aug 1790||Earl of Darnley’s XI||Earl of Winchilsea’s XI|
|11||13 Jul 1791||Hampshire||England|
|12||16 Jul 1792||Hampshire||Surrey|
|13||19 Jul 1792||Hampshire||Brighton|
|14||12 Jul 1793||England||Surrey|
|15||20 Jul 1795||Earl of Winchilsea’s XI||R Leigh’s XI|
Wines from the Hambledon Vineyard, occupying part of Windmill Down. Established in 1952, it is the oldest Commercial Vineyard in England. The bat and ball logo from Broadhalfpenny Down features on the neck label, emphasising the village’s connection with early cricket. In 2022 the vineyard produced over 400,000 bottles of premium quality sparkling wine; by 2035, they aim to produce one million bottles. With Climate change, the optimal area for growing the variety of grapes that produce complex sparkling wines is moving northwards and this factor, combined with the chalk-type and eco-sytem of the South Downs, mean that the wines of this area are becoming the equals of Champagne. This industry can be expect to grow and grow.
A tour of the Vineyard is certainly recommended.