The Twickenham Museum
Exhibitions : Sporting History

Tennis
A modern game derived from rackets, fives and Pelota

Leisurely tennis in front of Marble Hill House

The game of Lawn Tennis emerged in the 1870s, an adaptation of the ancient game of Real (Royal) Tennis played by the kings of England and France for several hundred years and referred to in Shakespeare’s Henry V (“Tennis balls, my liege”). The first court at Hampton Court was built by Wolsey before 1529. The odd system of scoring is still used today in Lawn Tennis, which was first played on private courts and at tennis clubs. Public courts developed later.

Tennis at the Lensbury Club in Teddington between the wars

The exclusive Garrick Lawn Tennis Club was formed in 1883 and used courts at Garrick’s Villa, Hampton by permission of the then owner Mrs Grove. Membership was limited to fifty and election was by ballot of existing members. Organised tennis in Teddington began with the Baptist Sunday School Library which formed a tennis club in 1908. It was called the Queens Road Club and comprised three, later four, grass courts on land owned by Charles Deayton rented at £10 per year. In 1914 the club moved to a rented plot in Vicarage Road and changed its name to Teddington Lawn Tennis Club. In 1922 the land was purchased, personally, by the secretary and leased to the club. It has since developed into one of the premier tennis clubs in Middlesex.

A social event for members of the West Twickenham Tennis club, in York House, Twickenham

By the 1920s, as more and more land was lost to development, additional public recreation grounds were established as public open space. These sometimes included tennis courts, bowling greens and other facilities. Private clubs were also established for recreation, and the West Twickenham Hard Court Club was built in the early 1930s by W E Aires. It had five doubles courts and one singles court and was located between Spencer Road and Pope’s Avenue.

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