After the Second World War Wrest Park was leased to the National Institute of Agricultural Engineering. The croquet club was formed by staff of the NIAE in 1961 using lawns near the house, and permission was granted to create four lawns (later six) on the grassed area north of the formal canal known as the Long Water. Within a year Wrest Park had won the Longman Cup, one of the three national club competitions.
Wrest Park started holding tournaments in 1972. As the members became more experienced they also became more ambitious. In 1973 Vic Rees and John Wheeler entered the Open Doubles and reached the final. The following year Wrest Park won the national Inter Club competition, and also entered a Bedfordshire team in the Inter County Championship.
In 1976 the club broke new ground by staging the first ever advanced play weekend tournament. This year saw Bedfordshire tie with Midland Counties for the Inter Counties, and the next year the team won outright. The 1980s saw the club hosting Croquet Association events for the first time: the All England final in 1985 and the Peels in 1987.
The club reached the finals of the Inter Club and Secretary’s Shield in 1995 and the final of the Longman Cup in 1997. Between 1995 and 2004 Wrest Park won the Mary Rose four times and was runner-
Wrest Park has been a regular venue for the Eastern Championship and in recent years has also staged the Selector’s Weekend, the Home Internationals, possibly the wettest ever All England final in 1998, the golf croquet Inter Counties and the CA Club Finals weekend in 2007 and 2008.
In 2011 English Heritage, who had bought Wrest Park some years earlier, announced that the club would have to move from its old site within the landscaped gardens, and undertook to create four new lawns at a site near the top of the drive next to the existing football and cricket pitches. The club moved to its new premises in 2013.
A summary of the main events in the club’s history between 1961 and 2001, including all the tournament winners,can be found on the Archive page.This page also has links to all the club newsletters published since 1997.
Adapted from an article in issue 303 of the Croquet Gazette published in June 2006
John Wheeler, Vic Rees and Harry Green with trophies won at various tournaments in 1967.
The Bedfordshire team with the Inter Counties Division 2 trophy in 2009. L-
© Wrest Park Croquet Club