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The story of the 1865 Lord's pavilion

Lord's 1825-6 pavilion, left, and detail of the palm-leaf columns, right. Image on right courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.

The Lord’s pavilion of 1825-6 was a wooden affair, with wonderful cast-iron columns shaped as bamboo stems topped by palm leaves, rather like those at the Royal Pavilion. But as Lord’s became more popular, the pavilion’s facilities were increasingly criticised, and not only for its ‘slovenly luncheons’. So the MCC decided to reconstruct and extend the pavilion. Work began early in spring 1865, but who was the architect? Lillywhite’s Cricketers’ Companion of 1866 published an elevation (below) of the rebuilt pavilion. The drawing came complete with details of the building and its architect, one Kerry Newton.

Who was this mystery man? Recent research has revealed that Kerry Newton was in fact Harry Robert Newton (c1828–89), described by his architectural peers as ‘undoubtedly eccentric’. He came from an eminent family including the architect William Newton (1735–90) and Harry’s father, the artist Sir William John Newton, miniature painter to Queen Victoria. Harry Newton was elected an MCC member in June 1865.

When completed in 1866, Newton’s design certainly looked like a new pavilion. This is the one shown in the famous painting by Henry Barraud, depicting around 80 MCC members and guests outside the pavilion. Still only a single storey, it was much longer than its predecessor and had a flat roof, used as a viewing platform during matches. The flat roof was constructed using a system of hollow, interlocking earthenware blocks strengthened by iron tie-rods, patented by engineer Joseph Bunnett (1797–1864). However, the press was unimpressed: ‘Ugly’.


During the 1880–81 close season the roof was extended to accommodate around 300 members. Crucially, the roof now sloped, holding several tiers of long bench seats, all covered by a canvas awning. Its image eventually appeared in The Architect of 1 Nov 1889, along with a perspective of Thomas Verity’s proposed new pavilion, built during 1889-90; this is the present pavilion, our only grade II* listed cricket pavilion.


Incidentally, fans of prefabrication should note that the old pavilion, parts of which dated from the 1820s, was taken down in 1889 and rebuilt in Slinfold (West Sussex), where it survived, doing duty as a barn, until the early 1980s.

[My thanks to the MCC Archive and @InsiderBuild for help with research.]

Cricket Pavilions

A very brief introduction to their architectural history....

Marlborough College, 1872-3, architect Alfred Waterhouse

Whether thatched pavilions on village greens, ornate Victorian structures or modernist icons, the cricket pavilion is at the heart of the game’s architectural, social and cultural significance. The need for shelter and privacy at cricket grounds arose from the early 1700s as the game became popular amongst the leisured classes. Significant matches, often between teams raised by the gentry, attracted large crowds of ladies as well as gentlemen. Socialising, gambling and refreshment were crucial to the success of these fashionable occasions, which were a chance for landowners to show off their grand houses, grounds and garden buildings.

Some were rather more rustic

Initially tents and marquees were considered sufficient, but permanent pavilions began to appear from the late 1700s. When the game was taken up more widely in the nineteenth century, the pavilion became an essential item for almost every cricket club. Other sports, notably tennis, bowls and golf, also acquired pavilions or clubhouses, but their functions were rather different as matches were relatively short compared with cricket, where fixtures might last a whole day or even several days. Pavilions provide the necessary facilities – changing areas, room for players and spectators to eat, drink and socialise, an external clock, perhaps a scoreboard and scorebox, a view of the pitch – but also a home for the trophies, scorebooks, records and archives that embody the history and heritage of a club.

Others, especially mid-19C were more like chapels with a veranda; this is Uppingham School

Cricket boomed towards the end of the nineteenth and into the twentieth century, when many substantial pavilions were erected, particularly for schools, colleges and universities, as well as county and local cricket clubs. The expansion in provision of playing fields between the wars then saw an increase in pavilions sited within public parks and recreation grounds. A few more were added from the 1960s onward, with a new generation of innovative designs appearing in the twenty-first century. In style, pavilions encompass art deco, arts and crafts, neo-Georgian and occasionally modernism, but many hark back to earlier timber structures.

The 1939 modernist pavilion at Leyland Motors Social and Athletic Club, Leyland, Lancashire. A rare example of modernism meeting cricket.....

For more on cricket pavilions, including news about the publication of my architectural history book on Cricket Pavilions (Amberley Publishing, forthcoming 2024) see the 

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