Page:VCH Kent 1.djvu/594

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A HISTORY OF KENT there is a field of twenty-four acres now under culiivation, which is still pointed out as the site of the local races. It is a large level piece of ground at the west entrance to the Cobham woods as one goes from Strood to Cobham. 1 The best race-course ever used in Kent was undoubtedly that at Waldershare, but the second Lord Gerard, so well known in connexion with handicap coups at Ascot and Goodwood, laid out another which in point of excellence must have ran the Waldershare course very close. This was at the time when he had purchased Eastwell Park, once the home of the Winchel- sea family, and at a later period the residence of H.R.H. Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg. Lord Gerard mapped out his course within the park, but it was never actually used except for the purpose of training a few horses. Ashford's old race-course still exists to some extent, and is now^ known locally as Hall's Field, a part of Ripton Farm. Its present peaceful purpose is to supply grazing for some prime Sussex cattle and a flock of Kent sheep. POLO The game of polo has never made much headway in Kent until quite re- cent years. The beginning of the game in that county may, indeed, be said to date from the establishment of the London Polo Club in the year 1899. The previous year had been one of marked activity in the polo world, and after a very successful season at Hurlingham and Ranelagh — the principal centres of the game — it was decided to inaugurate a fresh club upon somewhat similar, although much less ambitious, lines at the Crystal Palace. Mr. Ernest Schenk, chairman of the Crystal Palace Company, was the moving spirit, and the club began under very promising auspices. Strictly speaking, the London Polo Club was not a wholly Kentish organization, but the majority of its members hailed from the neighbouring districts of Chislehurst, Beckenham, and other places in the county near at hand, and its ground at the Crystal Palace, Sydenham, was situated on the borders of the county. The chief object of the club was to provide men of moderate means with opportunity for indulging in the sport at a cost which should be much lower than that established by the members of the crack organizations at Hurlingham and Ranelagh. From the first the movement was marked by unqualified success, and under the able management of Major F. Herbert, the London Polo Club made rapid strides. The first event of importance was the Inauguration Cup tournament, arranged to celebrate the birth of the club, play taking place on Whit-Monday 1899, and many of those who took part in the games on that occasion are still prominent supporters of the pastime. Among these may be mentioned ' Smetham, History of Strood, 305. in particular the Earl of Shrewsbury, Captain de Lisle, and Mr. A. Rawlinson. The first Inauguration Cup was won by the Military combination, whose team was composed of the late Lord Kensington, Captain H. de B. de Lisle, the late Lieutenant-Colonel P. W. Le Gallais, and Captain F. Egerton Green, who defeated the civilians by seven goals to six. Upon the two following days the Army Cup, valued at 200 sovereigns, was competed for, and in the final round the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons, represented by Mr. C. H. Higgin, Mr. C. K. Ansell, Mr. Neil Haig (now Major, and still a keen player), and Major M. F. Rimington, carried off the trophy by beating the loth Hussars by six goals to three. Among other clubs which took part in the tournaments at the Crystal Palace were Wimbledon Park, Tiverton, Hol- borough, and Cirencester. In the same year a new tournament, instituted in connexion with the County Cup competition, was held at Eden Park, Beckenham. Major F. Herbert, who had done much to further the interests of the game all over England, also undertook the organization of this venture, and the final tie resulted in a victory for Chislehurst, who defeated Stansted by four goals to one and thus became first holders of the trophy. Then came the outbreak of the South African War. Among those polo players who left for the front at the beginning of the campaign was M: jor F. Herbert, whose departure meant a severe loss to the interests of the game in Kent. Major Herbert's place was difficult to fill, but at length Mr. Eustace Blake came forward and was appointed secretary of the London Polo Club. He held office for five seasons, and was succeeded by Mr. R. E. Edmondson, an enthusiastic 500