These are some edited extracts from the two volumes of Tunbridge Wells in Old Photographs on the two cricket grounds, which give the date of foundation of the Bluemantles, its relationship to the other cricket clubs in town, and the point at which it transferred from the Common to the Nevill Ground.
Cricket has been played on the Higher Cricket Ground on Tunbridge Wells Common since the mid-18th century. From 1845 until 1880 County matches were played here, but these ceased due to the poor condition of the pitch which was regularly trampled by the public and grazing animals. County matches only returned to the town in 1901 after the old ground had been superseded as the town’s chief cricketing venue by the new Nevill Ground, opened in 1898.
Throughout the 20th century and on to the present day, the Higher Cricket Ground has been the home of the Linden Park Cricket Club, founded in 1876. It had originally been shared with two other clubs, the Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club, which traces its history back to the late 18th century, and the Blue Mantles, established in 1864; but these transferred their headquarters to the Nevill Ground in 1898.
Although cricket was played on the Higher Cricket Ground informally from the mid-eighteenth century, it was not officially set apart for the purpose until 1839, when the newly formed Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club received permission from the Freeholders to use and improve it, and to erect notices to deter abuse of the turf. The ground was subsequently enlarged in 1859 and 1875.
The Nevill Ground was opened in 1898 by William Nevill, 1st Marquess of Abergavenny, from whom the land had been acquired by the Tunbridge Wells Cricket, Football and Athletic Club Ltd. A contemporary guide said that ‘It deserves to be well patronised, for no expense was spared in making it perfect in every respect’. The first county cricket match on the ground was played in 1901, establishing a tradition that has continued to the present day.
In a county noted for its beautiful cricket grounds, the Nevill Ground in Tunbridge Wells possesses an unequalled charm and dignity; it has, in fact, frequently been described as the loveliest ground in England.’ So writes the town guide from 1951. When the Ground opened, the Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club (1839) and the Blue Mantles (1864) transferred their headquarters there from the Common.