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March 7, 2009

Reginald Herbert Spooner 1880 - 1961

Reginald Herbert Spooner - Metheringham Manor - England Cricketer

Reginald Spooner was one of the leading cricketers of what was known as the "Golden Age" of English Cricket before World War One and he lived on our doorstep.
He was born Reginald Herbert Spooner in Litherland, Liverpool in October 1880, the second oldest of four children of the Reverend George Hardwicke Spooner and Edith (nee Boult). He in turn married Lucy Lutwidge in May 1920 and they had two sons, John (b 1921) and Edward (b. 1923).

RHSpooner.jpg

"Reggie", as he was best known, was an all-round sportsman but his forte was as a right-hand batsman and he became one of England's greatest cricketers of Edwardian England. Our claim to him as one of our "famous" local people is that, on the succession of the Londesborough's as Lords of the Manor at Blankney Hall in 1892, Captain R.H. Spooner became their land agent in the early years of the 20th century and lived in Metheringham Manor.

"Reggie" died in a Lincoln Nursing Home on 2 October, 1961, aged 80 and is buried at Woodhall Spa.

Being the son of a Vicar Reggie was privileged with public school education at Marlborough School.He excelled as a sportsman at both rugby and cricket but primarily establishing himself as a fine batsman. In 1899, as an eighteen year old, he captained Marlborough and his potential was quickly noted with two centuries, one against Rugby at Lord's in 1898 and then ending his schooling years with another huge score of 198, again against Rugby. Lancashire Cricket Club quickly snapped him up and still only 18 he scored a magnificent 158 against Surrey 2nd at Old Trafford. This saw him quickly elevated to the Lancs 1st XI making his first-class debut against Middlesex at Lord's that same year where he made an immediate impression with scores of 44 and 83 in the two innings.

Then for almost three years (barely out of his teens), nothing was seen or heard of him as he saw action in the 2nd Boer War with the Manchester Regiment. Despite being wounded in the conflict he returned to first class cricket with Lancashire in 1903 in a season which saw him make his highest career score of 247 against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. Then, with another renowned England cricketer of the time, A.C. MacLaren, he shared an opening stand of 368 against Gloucestershire. Spooner made 168 and MacLaren 204 in a partnership which was the then record highest first wicket stand for Lancashire in the club's history. Together with MacLaren and John Tyldesley they became the batting backbone of a Lancashire side which went 45 county championship matches without defeat between 1903 and 1905.

His England debut came on his home ground of Old Trafford against Australia in the 4th Test of 1905. Scoring 52 on debut, he shared a stand of 125 with his captain the Hon. Frank Jackson who was playing in his penultimate game for his country. England went on to win by an innings and 80 runs. 1905 proved to be a great season for Reggie as he was also voted Wisden Cricketer of the Season. He would go on to play a further nine tests before making his last appearance, again against Australia, at the Oval. England, this time won by 244 runs but Reggie's contribution was one and nought. His highest test score was against South Africa at Lords in 1912 when he made 119. Despite being a regular for his country he never toured abroad with England due to injury or work commitment.

His county career of 237 first class games spread over 20 years with him hitting 31 centuries and scoring nearly 14,000 runs. He scored five double-centuries including 200 not out in a "Roses" match against Yorkshire in 1910. This was the first ever double-century in a game between Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Through his popularity he was often invited to play for England "Gentlemen" or similar such side and between 1908 and 1912 played for Lord Londesborough's XI against Australian and South African Touring sides at the Scarborough Festival. The 2nd Earl of Londesborough was a patron of Yorkshire Cricket Club and it may well have been here that he became acquainted with Spooner.

His playing career was very limited up to the outbreak of World War One when he saw action on the Western Front as a Captain in the Lincolnshire Regiment. Although his career stretched over 24 years between 1899 and 1923 he played very little first-class cricket after the War although he was offered and accept the captaincy of an MCC side scheduled to tour Australian in 1920-21 but once again injury preventing him going.

His last county match was at Lords against Middlesex in June 1921 and then his final top class game, at Scarborough, for the MCC against Yorkshire, two years later on 10 September 1923.

By this time he was well established as Land Agent for Lord Londesborough, living at Metheringham Manor. Living here but working, a mile away, in Blankney, it is suggested it was he who created the "short cut" bridle-path from Metheringham Cemetery across the fields and Blankney Cricket ground to his place of work.

Through his position with the Blankney Estate he was their representative on the Blankney Park Golf Club committee and in 1922 he became Club Captain. His connections with the club ceased the next year which is chronicled (in the book - Blankney Golf Club History) as being due to his employer (Lord Londesborough) viewing this position as being incompatible with the position of Land Agent.

From the early 1920 through to the 2nd World War Spooner was actively involved with Blankney Cricket Club, with the ground as it is to do, although the wicket ran north to south - enabling Lord Londesborough to better view the match from the North wing of Blankney Hall. Several photographs are still in being and can be viewed on the village website, showing Captain Spooner wearing his family large brimmed hat.

Captain Spooner was to see three Earls of Londesborough die during his time with the Estate with the 2nd Earl dying in 1917, followed by his son (the 3rd Earl) in 1920 and the 4th and last Earl in 1937. The wife of the last Earl, Lady Marigold, Countess of Londesborough, tried to keep the Estate running but crippling duties following the these deaths became too much for her to cope with and William Parker, from Norfolk became the new owner.

The late Eric Parker became a personal friend of Reggie and when Blankney Cricket Club folded in or around the end of WW2 these two gentlemen jonied forces to play cricket at Woodhall Spa, where Reggie had taken up residence.

As mentioned at the outset of this article, Reggie was accomplished at more than one sport with the other being Rugby were he played as centre three-quarter for Liverpool RFC. This saw him make one appearance for his country against Wales at Swansea in 1902-03, in a game the home side won 21-5 but cricket was his true passion and through his endeavour and the respect he received he was, in 1945, made President of Lancashire Cricket Club.

Reggie lived in Woodhall Spa for around 30 years before he died after a short illness in a Lincoln Nursing Home. He was buried in Woodhall Spa cemetery but he is yet another of the "Famous People who have lived on our doorstep".

3 Comments

Sue said:

This is an article written about my Grandfather's brother. I have been compiling the family tree and have loads more information on this family should anyone be interested. The one thing I cannot get hold of is a photo of the England Rugby Team 1903. Reggie played Centre in the match against Wales and no one seems to have the photo of the team at all.

Graeme said:

Hi Sue,

I have been tracing the Spooner family through their descent through Edith Boult, Reggie's mother; and ultimately through her descent from Sarah Kenrick.

Michelle Wilcock nee Burrow said:

This is an article about my paternal grandmother's brother - She was Violet Randall Spooner and married Rev George Hardwicke Spooner. A lot of new information on his life outside of cricket, very interesting.

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This page contains a single entry published on March 7, 2009 9:43 PM.

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Michelle Wilcock nee Burrow on Reginald Herbert Spooner 1880 - 1961: This is an article about my paternal gra
Graeme on Reginald Herbert Spooner 1880 - 1961: Hi Sue, I have been tracing the Spooner
Sue on Reginald Herbert Spooner 1880 - 1961: This is an article written about my Gran