It is widely believed that cricket was invented by children living on the Weald in Saxon or Norman times and that the game very soon reached neighbouring Surrey. Although not the game's birthplace, Surrey does claim the honour of being the location of its first definite mention in print. Evidence from a January 1597 (Julian calendar - 1598 in the Gregorian calendar) court case confirms that creckett was played by schoolboys on a certain plot of land in Guildford around 1550. In 1611, King James I gave to his eldest son, Henry, Prince of Wales, the manors of Kennington and Vauxhall, where the home ground of Surrey – the Oval – is today. To this day, the Prince of Wales's feathers feature on the cricket club's badge. Cricket became well established in Surrey during the 17th century and the earliest village matches took place before the English Civil War. It is believed that the earliest county teams were formed in the aftermath of the Restoration in 1660. The earliest known first-class match in Surrey was Croydon v London at Croydon on 1 July 1707. In 1709, the earliest known inter-county match took place between Kent and Surrey at Dartford Brent with £50 at stake. Surrey would continue to play cricket against other representative teams from that time onwards. Probably its greatest players during the underarm era were the famous bowler Lumpy Stevens and the wicket-keeper/batsman William Yalden, who both belonged to the Chertsey club.
Surrey CCC was founded on the evening of 22 August 1845 at the Horns Tavern in Kennington, South London, where around 100 representatives of various cricket clubs in Surrey agreed a motion put by William Denison (the club's first secretary) "that a Surrey club be now formed". A further meeting at the Tavern on 18 October 1845 formally constituted the club, appointed officers and began enrolling members. A lease on Kennington Oval, a former market garden, was obtained by a Mr Houghton from the Duchy of Cornwall. Mr Houghton was of the old Montpelier Cricket Club, 70 members of which formed the nucleus of the new Surrey County club. The Honourable Fred Ponsonby, later the Earl of Bessborough was the first vice-president. Surrey's inaugural first-class match was against the MCC at the Oval at the end of May, 1846. The club's first inter-county match, against Kent, was held at the Oval the following month and Surrey emerged victorious by ten wickets. However, the club did not do well that year, despite the extra public attractions at the Oval of a Walking Match and a Poultry Show. By the start of the 1847 season the club was £70 in debt and there was a motion to close. Ponsonby proposed that 6 life members be created for a fee of £12 each. His motion was duly passed, and the club survived. The threat of construction on the Oval was also successfully dispelled in 1848 thanks to the intervention of Prince Albert.
In 1854, Surrey secured a new 21-year lease on their home ground and Surrey went on to enjoy an exceptionally successful decade. being “Champion County” seven times from 1850 to 1859 and again in 1864. In 1857, all nine matches played by the county resulted in victory. This was the time of great players like William Caffyn, Julius Caesar, HH Stephenson and Tom Lockyer, and a fine captain in Frederick Miller. An incident in 1862, at the instigation of Edgar Willsher in a match between Surrey and England, led to the introduction of overarm bowling into cricket. Following a brilliant season in 1864 when the team won eight and drew three of its eleven first-class matches, Surrey went into free-fall in the latter half of the 1860s, owing to the decline of key players Caesar, Stephenson and Mortlock and a puzzling inability to find quality bowlers to support the incomparable James Southerton, whose combination with wicket-keeper Ted Pooley virtually carried the team. Although Southerton broke many bowling records and Harry Jupp developed into the most prolific scorer among professional batsmen, Surrey’s record in purely county matches during the seventeen seasons from 1866 to 1882 was 59 victories, 107 losses, two ties and 37 drawn games. The team bottomed out in 1871 when they did not win a single county match for the only time until 2008. Southerton, except in 1872 when fast bowler James Street helped him to win seven of twelve games, had no adequate support in bowling after underarm left-arm spinner George Griffith declined, and except when Richard Humphrey achieved prominence in 1872 the batting depended almost entirely on Jupp. The fielding was also generally below the standard expected of first-class cricket
Surrey then won official County Championship titles in 1890–1892 under John Shuter. After a disappointing season in 1893 when their batting failed on Oval pitches rendered fiery by several dry winters and springs, Kingsmill Key took over and led Surrey to further titles in 1894, 1895 and 1899. Leading players in these years were batsman Bobby Abel and a trio of top bowlers: George Lohmann, Bill Lockwood and Tom Richardson. In 1899, Abel's unbeaten 357 helped Surrey to a mammoth total of 811 against Somerset; both scores remain club records over 100 years later. The start of the 20th century brought a decline in Surrey's fortunes, and they won the title only once during the next fifty years, in 1914. At the request of Surrey's captain Lord Dalmeny, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) allowed the use of his feathers on the club badge. The club's most famous player was Jack Hobbs, who began playing for the county in 1905, and he had a notable opening partner till 1914 in Tom Hayward, who scored 3,518 runs in all first-class cricket in 1906, equalled C.B. Fry's record of 13 centuries in a season and, in one six-day period, scored two centuries at Trent Bridge and two more at Leicester. He scored his hundredth hundred at the Oval in 1913. Between the two world wars, Surrey often had a good side, but it tended to be stronger in batting than in bowling; Hobbs played until 1934 with another good opening partner in Andrew Sandham. Hobbs scored more runs (61,760) and compiled more centuries (199) in first-class cricket than any other player in the history of the game. In recognition of his contribution to the team, the eponymous Jack Hobbs Gates were inaugurated at the Oval.
In 1844, Kennington Oval was a market garden owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. The Duchy was willing to grant a lease of the land for the purpose of a cricket ground, and on the 10th of March 1845 the club signed a lease with the Otter Trustees who held the land from the Duchy "to convert it into a subscription cricket ground", for 31 years at a rent of £120 per annum plus taxes amounting to £20. The original contract for turfing The Oval cost £300; 10,000 grass turfs came from Tooting Common. In 1868, 20,000 spectators gathered at The Oval for the first game of the 1868 Aboriginal cricket tour of England, the first tour of England by any foreign side. Thanks to C.W. Alcock, the Secretary of Surrey from 1872 to 1907, the first Test match in England was played at The Oval in 1880 between England and Australia. The Oval, thereby, became the second ground to stage a Test, after the MCG. In 1882, Australia won the Test by seven runs within two days. The Sporting Times printed a mocking obituary notice for English cricket, which led to the creation of the Ashes trophy, which is still contested whenever England plays Australia. The first Test double century was scored at The Oval in 1884 by Australia's Billy Murdoch. Surrey's ground is noted as having the first floodlights at a sports arena, in the form of gas-lamps, dating to 1889. The current pavilion was completed in time for the 1898 season.
In 1907, South Africa became the 2nd visiting Test team to play a Test match at this venue. In 1928, West Indies played its first Test match at this venue followed by New Zealand in 1931. In 1936, India became the 5th foreign visiting Test side to play at The Oval, followed by Pakistan in 1954 and Sri Lanka in 1998. Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have still yet to play a Test match at the Oval. The Oval is referenced by the poet Philip Larkin in his poem about the First World War, "MCMXIV". During World War II, The Oval was requisitioned. Initially, it housed searchlights. It was then turned into a prisoner of war camp, which was intended to hold enemy parachutists. However, since they never came, the Oval was never used for this purpose. The first One Day International match at this venue was played on 7 September 1973 between England and West Indies. It hosted matches of the 1975, 1979, 1983, and 1999 World Cups. It also hosted five of the fifteen matches in the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy, including the final. The Oval once held the record for the largest playing area of any Test venue in the world. That record has since been surpassed by Gaddafi Stadium in Pakistan, although, The Oval remains the largest in Great Britain. Billionaire Paul Getty, who had a great affinity for cricket and was at one time Surrey CCC President, built a replica of The Oval on his Wormsley Park estate. The famous gasholders just outside The Oval's wall are actually newer than the ground by several years, having been built around 1853. Now disused, there has been much speculation of late as to whether they should be demolished; however, many believe they are an integral part of The Oval's landscape and, therefore, their future looks secure.
The Oval was also an important site in the historical development of football, before a separate national stadium was constructed specifically for the sport. Football had been played in this part of London for many years prior to the inauguration of The Oval: "The Gymnastic Society", arguably the world's first football club, met regularly at Kennington Common during the second half of the eighteenth century to play the game. The Oval was home to the first ever international football match on 5 March 1870, England against Scotland, organised by The Football Association; and the first FA Cup Final. The North-western end of The Oval is known as the Vauxhall end, as Vauxhall station is situated just outside the grounds in this direction. The opposite end (South-east) is known as the Pavilion end, as it is the location of the members' pavilion. At the end of the 2002 cricket season, Surrey started redeveloping the Vauxhall End. The development included knocking down the outdated Surridge, Fender, Jardine, and Peter May north stands, and creating in their place a single four tier grandstand, currently known as the OCS stand. This work was completed in May 2005 and increased ground capacity to around 23,000. In January 2007, Surrey announced plans to increase capacity by a further 2,000 seats, this time by redeveloping the Pavilion End. The Lock, Laker, and Peter May south stands will be replaced with a new stand, which will have a hotel backing on to it. The Surrey Tavern at the entrance to the ground will be demolished, and a new pedestrian plaza will be created in its place. In 2009, permanent floodlights were installed for use in day/night matches. The floodlights are telescopic and are retracted when not in use.
Match day parking for Blue badge holders is available on or near the site. Access & Ground Entry is good with all entrances having dropped kerbs, in additional to wheelchair friendly entrance gates. Seating Areas for the mobility impaired are in excess of the minimum requirements and offer a multitude of views to suit all tastes. Should any assistance be required to reach your seat or any facility please contact the nearest steward who will make arrangements for assistance to be made available. Wheelchair friendly toilet facilities are plentiful and available throughout the ground with the majority requiring a RADAR key. If you are not in possession of such a key then contact the nearest steward who will source one for you immediately. Catering Points have in the main been adapted to offer low level service points. Call Points are situated by many of the main doors that are more problematic. Facility accessibility is good throughout the ground with less than 5% of internal areas being non wheelchair friendly. Accessible Taxis can be ordered from within the OCS or Pavilion end receptions. The following facilities are available for persons with visual impairment: Live commentary on Radio London Online by clicking this link. The public address system will give live scores and updates of key developments during the match. Guide dogs are permitted within the ground. Should your dog require water then the staff at any food service outlet will me more than willing to help. Should any assistance be required to reach your seat or any facility then please contact the nearest steward who will make arrangements for assistance to be made available. A number of key signs have been adapted to a raised print format. Outside the ground all crossing have textured paving.
Location : Kennington Oval, Kennington, London SE11 5SS
Capacity : 8,500
Opening Times: Daily 09:30 to 17:00
Tickets County : Adults £15.00; Juniors (-16) £1.00
Tickets County/One Day : Adults £15.00; Juniors (-16) TBC
Tickets T20 Blast : Adults £24.00 to £29.00
Tickets England ODI: Adults £50.00 to £95.00; Juniors £25.00 to £47.50
Tickets England Test: Adults £50.00 to £90.00; Juniors £20.00 to £30.00; Day 5 Adults £20.00; Juniors £1.00
Tel: 0844 375 1845