What follows is a very early set of cricket rules, as agreed in 1727.
The Articles of Agreement by and between His Grace the Duke of Richmond and Mr Brodrick (for two cricket matches) concluded the 11th of July 1727.
Imprimis. 'Tis by the aforesaid Parties agreed that the first Match shall
be played some day or this instant July in the county of Surrey;
the Place to be named by Mr Brodrick;
the second match to be played in August next and in the County of Sussex, the Place to be named by the Duke of Richmond.
The owner of Peper Harow, Mr Alan Brodrick Senior, had been MP for Cork and had been successively Solicitor-General and Attorney-General for Ireland and Speaker in the Irish House of Commons.
After buying the Surrey estate he was elected MP for Midhurst, Sussex. He was created Baron Roderick of Midleton, County Cork, in 1715 and Viscount Midleton two years later.
His cricketing son succeeded to the Viscountcy a year after the historic matches with the Duke. He was a Commissioner of the Customs and subsequently Joint Comptroller of the army accounts. Like the Duke of Richmond, Alan Brodrick was fond of trees -- he had many put in the park surrounding his Peper Harow home, including some Cedars of Lebanon planted as saplings in 1735.
Tall and ancient trees today still stand guard over the cricket ground in the park, whereon the members of Peper Harrow Cricket Club play each week-end. There are two giant plane trees towering above the little pavilion in front of which is a wooden seat, the memorial to the fallen in the last war, the honoured names upon it including Major the Hon. M. V. Brodrick, M.C.
Was this the venue of the match in July 1727? It is very probable that this was so, though the match might have been played at Guildford, which would not have involved too exacting a journey for either of the contesting teams even over the awful roads of the period, or at Godalming.
But as the choice lay entirely with Mr Brodrick it is, surely, a reasonable assumption that he had the game played on his own ground. It is possible at least to conjure an impression of the events of that notable day.
The Duke, in order to be rested for the contest, had journeyed overnight to Godalming, where he rented a furnished house, the "half-way" house in which he would stay on his frequent journeys between Goodwood and London -- they were too long and arduous to be undertaken in one day, especially in bad weather.
The Duchess accompanied him, as she would whenever her domestic commitments and the state of her current pregnancy permitted. It was a leisurely journey of about 25 miles through Halnaker and Petworth, North Chapel and Chiddingfold, agreeable enough in a relatively warm and dry season, rough as was the road.
Friends at Godalming called to pay their respects when it was known they had arrived but, with a mind to the morrow, the Duke and his Duchess retired early after supping modestly together in the small candle-lit dining-room.
On the day of this historic cricket match the Duke was up early, as was his
custom. He dressed himself with care in a white shirt ruffed at the front and
with the sleeves long so that they protruded beyond the coat sleeves and
fastened at the wrist, a lawn cravat wound round his neck and loosely knotted
at the chin, dark breeches, worsted stockings, close-fitting "undress" coat
with flared skirt and small wig (the full-bottomed wig was still very
fashionable but not ideal for strenuous sport) and buckled shoes.
After breakfast he kissed his wife farewell and she adjured him to be careful and not to return with any "limbs broke ".
The Duke then promised not to be over late as so many husbands have glibly promised since (and no doubt before). Then he placed on his head his tricorne hat, newly brushed, and entered his chaise which stood at the entrance to his Godalming lodging.
Often for journey or no great length -- Godalming to Peper Harow is about four miles -- he would proceed on horseback but on this occasion it was necessary to preserve himself as fresh as possible for a match he was determined that his side should win.
So he was driven along a rough and pitted road which wound its way to the gate of Peper Harow, where a turn was made to the left, through the tall, whispering beech trees, within a couple of minutes after which the low old manor house, smoke wreathing up from the chimney above the great kitchen fire, came into sight.
Yews, four centuries old, shaded the churchyard of St. Nicholas, wherein heroes of a slightly later England, including members of Mr Brodrick's own family, were to find their final rest; Admiral Thomas Brodrick, for instance, whose memorial may be seen in the chancel of the old church.
He was an illustrious 18th-century sailor who, as a lieutenant in 1738, commanded the ceremonial parade when Admiral Vernon took Porto Bello. This victory was one of a few gains in the wretched Jenkin's ear affair.
It started with the production, at the bar of the House of Commons, of an ear alleged to have been removed from Robert Jenkins by the Spaniards -- to the accompaniment of jeers at our king. Normally phlegmatic, Britain when slightly crazy in its demands for reprisals.
Later, in the Seven Years War, Admiral Brodrick was sent to the Mediterranean with reinforcements for Admiral Byng, and when Byng was sent from under arrest for his failure at Minorca he sat on the court martial which sentenced him to death.
After a career of high adventure he retired to the peace of Peper Harow where he lived in a gardener's cottage. In old age he died and was buried in the little churchyard adjoining the park from which, 1,200 years ago, men dug black flint.
Nearby, among the yews, lie other Brodricks, whose Irish blood enriched the sturdy stock of southern England; and a most valiant soldier, Sir Henry Dalrymple White, who led his men in the cavalry charge at Balaclava.
One that memorable day in the high summer of 1727, in the porch of the house slightly below and a few hundred yards from the church of St. Nicholas, Mr Brodrick stood waiting to welcome his opponent. He was dressed in similar fashion, the "undress" of land-owning gentlemen.
Upon the cricket ground which could be seen through the trees in front of the house, the home umpire was already busy placing the two stumps at each end of the pitch on the most level parts of the ground and near to its centre.
With delicate care this umpire, presently joined by the Duke's umpire, both wearing long coats and three-cornered hats, stretched the bails from one stump to the other and retired to the place of adjudication to await the arrival of the fielding team. And on the edge of the cricket ground, among the tufts of long grass and the shrubs, the players awaiting their masters, passing the time of day in a good-humoured, ribald manner. All were now ready, the grooms and footmen, gardeners and estate workers, to take their places at the wicket or in the field.
All wore the costume that was usual for the "gamesters" of the period. They were distinguished from their masters, the captains of the sides, by the fact that they wore no wigs and their clothes, clothes, though not dissimilar when ready for action, that is to say, when stripped down to shirts and breeches, were of coarser material.
The "gentlemen" as distinct from the "players" wore short wigs and their clothes were of finer quantity. They removed their coats and waistcoats before going on to the field but had no special attire at all.
Wickets were pitched at 10 a.m., for matches started early. Yet already the captains had raised a beaker to toast success to the better side. After such an early start and a long, uncomfortable journey for the visitors, other than the captain, refreshment was necessary and much appreciated.
The scorers sat on a hummock at 25 yards or so from the wicket, so close together as to look almost like Siamese twins joined at the shoulder. Like the umpires they wore long clothes and three-cornered hats. Each had a piece of wood and a knife to record the notches.
The umpires now stood, one in a position very like that taken up by the umpire at the bowler's end today, the other not at square leg but very close to the wicket, at leg slip. Each held in his right hand a bat, the curved end of which rested on the ground. The top of the handle was roughly up to the lowest rib, a much longer implement than later models.
Who scored the notches we do not know, but in the Duke's team his groom Thomas Waymark was the outstanding all-rounder. Described as 'the father of all professionals', he was perhaps the best cricketer in England at that time. Other good players employed by the Duke included Stephen Dingate - who was also a barber - Joseph Budd, Pye and Green.
Alas, we do not even know who won the game, though it would be safe to say that the Duke had the stronger side.