45. Polo in the Cotswolds

Match action from Cirencester Park Polo Club where the game has been played for 120 years.
The young Royals, Princes William and Harry, regularly enjoy playing "the sport of princes" in the Cotswolds, pictured here in action at Cirencester. The Cotswolds is a major centre for polo in the UK, the oldest ball game in the world, and is home to several of the country's top clubs which regularly attract members of the Royal Family to their ranks.

The first polo match played in this country was in 1871 between the 9th Lancers and 10th Hussars and one of the players in this match, Captain Frank Henry, started the Beaufort Polo Club, near Malmesbury, in 1872.

After the club had lapsed for many years, in 1977 the Tomlinson family bought Down Farm, alongside Westonbirt Arboretum, near Tetbury, and revived the Beaufort Polo Club which now has the Prince of Wales as a patron, while Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, has also played polo at the club.

Cirencester Park Polo Club, which was established in 1894, is another of England's most famous polo and currently Cirencester Park is one of the country's leading polo venues.has a playing membership of well over 100.

Set amid 3,000 acres of parkland and woodland within the estate of Earl Bathurst's country house, the club boasts 10 polo grounds, and its members' enclosure includes the original Thatched Bar.

Over the last 100 years the club has played host to some of the most influential figures of our time including three Kings - George V, George VI and Edward VIII, the Sultan of Brunei and the current Royal Family.

The Duke of Edinburgh played in many tournaments at Cirencester during the 1960s and the present Prince of Wales was a participant in tournament polo and many charity matches up to his recent retirement from the game. His sons Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, have both played at the club as well.

But it was third in line to the throne Prince George who captured most of the attention on Father's Day, June 15, 2014, when he was photographed taking his first steps two weeks short of his first birthday at the annual Jerudong Trophy match at Cirencester Park where he was accompanied by the Duchess of Cambridge supporting her husband.

Many top British players have also been associated with Cirencester Park, notably Gerald Balding, said to have been "one of the most outstanding polo players of the 20th Century", and Julian and Howard Hipwood, both captains of England who learned their polo at Cirencester, for which 2014 has been a special year with celebrations to mark its 120th anniversary.

Other polo clubs based in and around the Cotswolds include Asthall Polo Club, near Lechlade; Edgeworth Polo Club, near Stroud; and Ladyswood Polo Club at Sherston, near Malmesbury, Wiltshire.
© Loving The Cotswolds. 2020.