Families in Congresbury will celebrate 175 years of cricket this summer.

A 10-day Festival of Cricket in high summer will include a match against an MCC XI, a BBC West XI, junior cricket including All Stars, and a celebration dinner.

The annual village fete on June 29 will also be cricket themed and will feature a cricket tea bake-off using a cake recipe from the 1920s unearthed during research into cricket in north Somerset during the Victorian and Edwardian era.

Congresbury men v ladies in 1907 which the village plans to recreate in some form at this year’s fete. Photo courtesy of Anita Standen

Local historian and author Clive Burlton, a club vice president, explained: “Among the many nuggets we’ve found is a photograph and an account of a 1907 men v women cricket match in the village with men batting left-handed with broomsticks!h

“We also found recipes for all sorts of cakes and pies written by village ladies with known links to cricketers of the time which sparked the idea for the cricket tea bake-off.”

Clive, who is compiling a book to mark 175 years of village cricket, noted that while Congresbury Cricket Club cannot claim it is 175 years old – there have been too many rebirths to claim that heritage – there is no doubt that cricket has been played almost continuously in the area since the 1840s. There’s even one account of Langford playing in 1825!

“The men v women photo and a pencil-written account was found in Ernest Standen’s notebook on Theology. A religious man, Ernie played in the match and it was his wife Mabel who later commandeered his notebook to write down village recipes,” said Clive.

Congresbury skipper Justin Yau and Weston skipper Chris Davidson with the 1919 scorebook earlier this month

The oldest document so far uncovered is the scorebook from 1919. The first match after World War One was against Weston-super-Mare and almost 100 years later the two clubs met in a pre-season friendly in April with Congresbury emerging as winners. 

Cricket club chairman Geoff Wilcock said that the enthusiasm for the 175thcelebrations clearly demonstrated that cricket was alive and well despite reports of a general decline in the sport’s popularity. 

“We used to field three teams on a Saturday now it’s only two but we do have a healthy junior section and the All Stars programme is proving very popular with the five to eight year olds,” said Mr Wilcock.

“This year we are also launching soft ball cricket for women and girls which we hope will prove equally popular.”

Congresbury plays senior cricket in the West of England Premier League and the Bristol and District League and junior cricket in the North Somerset League.