In those times of George IV. and William IV. there was very little college cricket. The earliest ground specially set aside for a portion of the university was the Bullingdon ground of the Bullingdon Club, which was on the hill where the Barracks now are, about two miles farther from Oxford than the Magdalen ground, and which is still, since the building of the Barracks, replaced by a ground near the old spot. The old ground was a very good one. On it, in 1843, the university match was played, because it was too wet to play on the Magdalen ground below. Lillywhite is said to have pronounced the Bullingdon turf to be the finest he ever played on, finer even than his own Sussex ground at Brighton. Near Bullingdon, Brasenose and St John's are said to have played. But these were the only approaches to college grounds. How different from our age, when every college has its own ground, club, professional, and list of matches!
One naturally asks oneself the question, Why did cricket go so far off as Bullingdon, when in those days there were plenty of fields in the near vicinity of Oxford? The. answer is to be found in the former life of Oxford, still reflected in the Bullingdon Club as it was when I was an undergraduate. Cricket was connected with riding, the amusement par excellence of those days. One must picture to oneself undergraduates riding or driving out across the Cowley Common undeterred by fences, and on their arrival at Bullingdon Green partly playing cricket in the middle, partly riding races round the match, and finally eating and drinking in a manner adapted to youth, health, and exercise. Happy Elysium, how different from the haste and hurry of our modern life, even when we say we are at play! The modern undergraduate does not even lunch or dine on his college ground.
By these considerations, and only thereby, we can understand why even the University Cricket Club used to play a mile from Magdalen Bridge, when they could have played, so to say, in Oxford itself. They did not think they were far off, partly because they were so used to horses, arid partly because they were so much nearer than Bullingdon cricket. In fact, the common of Cowley was the place for riding and cricket, and the University Club thought itself lucky because it played on the part of the common place for cricket nearest to Oxford. Even now, some of the colleges, like cats, have a lingering affection for the old locality, and though the university and some of the colleges have moved closer to Oxford, the rest still prefer to remain on Cowley Marsh.
But why was the university cricket-ground called the Magdalen