Home » The 10 most picturesque cricket grounds in Britain

The 10 most picturesque cricket grounds in Britain

As Robert Browning declaimed when in Italy: “O, to be in England now that April’s there”. But it is not too bad in March either when the sunshine finally acquires some warmth, and our cricket fields are mown for the first time, and another season wakes anew.

Don’t mow in May, environmentalists now say, but around the boundaries of a cricket ground trees can grow, and hedges, and grass itself, while birds and insects can congregate and the clippings rot into compost. Wherever a cricket ground may be located, in town or city, it is a piece of countryside blending in, not carved out like a stadium or golf course.

England and Wales must have several thousand cricket grounds. Nobody knows for sure exactly how many but there is one certainty: that their number is dwindling. Developers want the land. Bureaucratic legislation strangles clubs; the handful of volunteers who sustain them, as they age, must jump through ever more hoops.

As two out of many examples of extinct cricket grounds: Portchester was one, inside the walls of a castle on a headland opposite Portsmouth harbour. And Rievaulx in north Yorkshire: the most beautiful grounds must have a backdrop supplied by nature or humankind, and none could be more majestic than that Abbey. But sheep in the neighbouring field are shooed away no longer.

Here is a personal selection of the 10 most beautiful grounds in England and Wales, with the qualification that they are not currently used for first-class cricket, which makes Arundel, Cheltenham, Chesterfield and Worcester ineligible.

Beauty is subjective, of course, in the eye of the beholder. For one thing it often depends on the time of year when one visits, because the ground is an integral part of the surrounding land. For another, I am prejudiced towards any ground where I have taken a wicket. But I hereby promise to accept every invitation to play in future at any beautiful cricket ground.

The list below is in alphabetical order, but a winner is declared at the bottom.




Credit: Abergavenney Cricket Club



Lovely as Cresselly is, and cheerful as Colwyn Bay in north Wales can be, Abergavenny still has to take the palm in Wales – now it qualifies as only a club ground, no longer staging county cricket, as it did when Glamorgan played here from 1981 to 2003.

The immediate surroundings are nothing special but the setting is unsurpassed because of the mountains all around, like the Sugar Loaf, tempting the eye, and the feet, and the legs. Sprinkle snow on the mountain-tops and it could be Dharamsala, India’s beautiful new ground.



Bamburgh cricket ground



On a headland in Northumbria, a little to the south of Holy Island, overlooking the North Sea: where could be more bracing for a game of cricket? The castle, partly built in Norman times, towers majestically between the ground and the beach; and the pavilion, and the village, and its pub do nothing to detract. The club plays on Sundays but the ground is worthy of a stroll any day of a summer week.



Knole Park, in Sevenoaks


Credit: Credit: Tony Watson / Alamy Stock Photo/Tony Watson / Alamy Stock Photo



The ideal venue for country-house cricket, the country house being the ancient pile of the Sackvilles or latterly the Sackville-Wests. Ferns in the surrounding parkland, a tree inside the boundary, springy turf and not too many deer droppings from regular visitors, but it is Knole House itself, Jacobean architecture at its most handsome, which attracts the painter’s eye.

Sevenoaks Vine nearby is the much older cricket ground, where the Dukes of Dorset played; Knole Park was opened in 1942, and perhaps nowhere in Kent could have been more therapeutic for servicemen.





Brian Johnston, of Test Match Special, is said to have called this his favourite ground, although he was so genial he might have said it when visiting other venues.

It is sited in the bottom of a valley outside Bath; a stream flows behind the pavilion and sometimes floods the ground, which prevents it being built upon; the Kennet and Avon canal passes nearby, as does a viaduct of old Bath stone, but its traffic does not impinge. Hereabouts the old film The Titfield Thunderbolt was filmed, and the ground, in its rural tranquillity, could still be the pre-Beeching Britain of the 1950s.



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Credit: Colin Underhill/Alamy Live News



Many a cricket ground in England and Wales has a fine building for a backdrop – and inhabited ones, excluding castles, do not come finer than Stoneleigh Abbey.

It no longer resembles the Cistercian monastery that it was before the Reformation, but is more like the home which Jane Austen conceived for Mr Darcy – Jane was a guest there on the strength of her relationship to the owners, the Leigh family. The ground, not far from the Avon, basks in full and verdant view of the Abbey.



Cricket in the snow



Four miles east of Keswick, and in the shadow of Blencathra, albeit adjacent to the A66, Threlkeld may have its peers in the north-west of England like Patterdale CC beside Ullswater, but this was selected by The Cricketer magazine in 2019 as one of its most beautiful grounds.

Green fields behind the pavilion give way to some of the Lake District’s finest hills, which turn to matchless colours in the autumn amid the crags and are no stranger to snow early in the season. The name of their competition seems appropriate: the Eden Valley Cricket League.





Tea is not the only reason to play cricket, but it is one of the main ones, and where better than on a ground where the appetite has been sharpened by sea air?

The members of Lynton and Lynmouth CC in North Devon may not be strong enough to hit a ball out of the ground, over the rocks and into the Bristol Channel, but Chris Gayle or Liam Livingstone might just do it. Meanwhile not only the sheep but wild goats “may safely graze and pasture” around the valley – if they are not allowed into the lovely pavilion, of local rocks and wood, to take tea.



Wells Cathedral School Cricket Ground


Credit: Wells Cathedral School



The school grounds are lovely enough behind a stone wall, trees dotted around, but it is the presence of Wells Cathedral and surrounding medieval buildings that lends this ground its unique ambience.

Barchester Towers could still be filmed here: is that not the Dean walking from the almshouses over to the Bishop’s Palace? The only blot on the landscape was when the old cricket pavilion was replaced by two portacabins. They have now been replaced by a fine new pavilion of glass and wood. Bowl down the slope if you can though, so the pupils have to hit up it.



Wormsley Cricket Ground


Credit: Alex Davidson/Getty Images



Mellowness is all it lacks and that will come with the passage of time.

The ground was started by John Paul Getty, when the American oil-billionaire fell in love with English cricket. No expense was spared when he ordered a new cricket ground to be made in the Oxfordshire countryside, and a thatched pavilion to match, to go with his collection of Wisdens in the country house. Anything can be bought, it seems, even tranquillity.





It is a ground almost at the top of a hill in the Cotswolds, and at the top of this list. Laurie Lee grew up in the next valley, where Cider with Rosie was conceived, and lived his last years in Sheepscombe when the area was transformed from a poor, rough outskirt of Stroud into a gentrified retreat from London. He bought the unwanted cricket pavilion at Wellington school in Somerset and had it rebuilt at the top end of the Sheepscombe ground, just below the beech wood of 600 acres that is owned by the National Trust.



If you walk down the pavilion steps and mark out your run-up, as a pace bowler, you cannot see any fielders on the boundary behind the wicket. The slope down the hill, from one end of the ground to the other, is so steep, three times greater than Lord’s, about 18 feet. The square is flat enough but nature cannot be resisted as the ground – and often the ball – heads down the valley.



Sheepscombe


Credit: Russell Cheyne



The ground looks south, down to the bottom of the valley and a stream, past cottages and now grander houses of Cotswold stone, then up the far side of the valley to where the beech wood sweeps round in a horseshoe bend. It would be hard to find a landscape that better blends new prosperity with traditional English architecture.