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Normandy Cricket Club

Normandy Cricket Club was formed in 1896, the early matches being played in a field between Westwood House and Westwood Farm. A balance sheet of the club's finances, drawn up by the Secretary/Treasurer Arthur Stedman, shows that "the field was rented for £2 and that twelve shillings was paid for an old stone roller and three shillings for labour." In addition to subscriptions from players, "the proceeds of two concerts and the balance from a cricket supper boosted the club's funds." The club continued to grow, despite having to relocate to land in School Lane, now forming part of Roughs Farm. Matches were played there up to the start of World War II, when in accordance with government directives Sir Philip Henriques, the owner of the ground, repossessed it for food cultivation.

The club has always enjoyed a strong association with the incumbents of St Mark's Church. The Reverend H D Wyatt was both an enthusiastic player and a patron of the club in its early days. Suffering from ill health, he was assisted in his ministry by curates, one of whom was the Reverend G E J Milner, also an enthusiast of cricket who, not only played for the club but also later was elected Captain. The bond between church and club continued into the 1950s when the Reverend Canon Selby-Lowndes was elected President.

The fortunes of the club changed in March 1945 when Guildford Rural District Council acquired land from the War Department at Normandy Common, specifically for use as a cricket ground and to be let to the club at an annual rent of two pounds ten shillings. The land, off Hunts Hill Road, was used throughout World War II as an army training ground. It was undulating, criss-crossed with trenches, covered with bracken, gorse and pine, presenting a most daunting task for any group of enthusiasts from which to create a cricket ground. Clearance of the area started in 1946.

At about this time, many new types of earth-moving equipment had been sent back to Aldershot Command from the Low Countries, where they had been used to rebuild war damaged dams and dykes. The army was well provided with sports grounds and had little use for such machinery. However, part of the retraining programme for military personnel was designed to prepare them for return to civilian life and this included training in the use of heavy earth moving machinery. Aldershot Command was, therefore, looking for suitable training sites in the area and had consulted the Local Authorities. Development of the land at Hunts Hill Road was an obvious choice. It was agreed that the work would be carried out by soldiers from the Aldershot Command with Normandy Cricket Club paying for the cost of the civilian labour and fuel.

Cricket pavilion c1970s
Cricket pavilion c1970s

There was a great celebration when the Member of Parliament, Sir John Jarvis, officially opened the ground on 28 June 1947. The opening match played against Major D L Cox's XI (the President's XI), was the first since departing from School Lane in 1940. A second ground was established on adjoining land leased from the parish council in 1991. The excellent facilities are often in demand by other clubs requiring a neutral ground for fixtures, providing an additional and welcome source of revenue for the club. There is strong support from its social members in regularly preparing teas for matches and helping to maintain the clubhouse and grounds.

George Harris, Secretary and Treasurer for twenty-one years, died in 1977 requesting in his will that his ashes be buried at the cricket ground. His brother-in-law, Jack Evans, carried out the ceremony with President John Milton, Chairman George Readings and life member Doug Roberts, in attendance.

Cricket Pavilion 1992
Cricket Pavilion 1992

Unconventional use of the grounds has included the emergency landing of a helicopter, hot-air balloons and in 1959, the location for a film "Light up the sky", starring Tommy Steele, Benny Hill and Ian Carmichael featuring the hilarious antics of a searchlight unit in World War II.

Cricket Pavilion 1992
Cricket Pavilion 1999

On 31 May 1999, guests, players and well-wishers were invited to attend the grand opening of the club's new pavilion, performed jointly by Mickey Stewart, President of Surrey County Cricket Club and Doug Roberts, life member and now President of the club. It was a memorable occasion, set in a location that is best described as one of the most pleasant and picturesque in the County of Surrey.

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