Wantage and Grove Cricket Club may well be the oldest sports club in the town. The programme for the 1895 season can be seen in a cabinet in the town’s museum, but the first recorded match was in 1863 against Abingdon which Wantage duly won. The Victorians were not constrained by 40 minutes for lunch and 15 minutes for teas, their meal breaks were all together more civilised with joints of cold roast beef, lamb, ham on the bone and huge pork pies followed by raspberry, gooseberry and other soft fruits as flans or tarts accompanied by flagons of ale or cider together with sherry and malt liquors. It is said that frequently there was some wild batting and bowling in the half hour after the resumption of play.
Today, refreshments on match days are not quite so lavish although the odd flagon of ale is often in evidence when the game is over.
In the late twentieth century the Wantage and Grove teams merged and continued to go from strength to strength. The first team currently plays in the Oxfordshire Cricket Association league where we have consistently gained promotion to a higher division for the last number of seasons.
For many years the club played cricket on the Wantage Memorial Recreation Ground but in the late 1940’s a local farmer, Bertie Castle, generously offered a lease at a peppercorn rent on a much flatter site in Charlton Village Road opposite the Lord Nelson Pub. At that time Charlton was still a village but soon became a Wantage suburb with the housing development erected to accommodate the workers at Harwell Atomic Energy Research Centre. The cricket field remains and we hope to be playing there for many more generations.
As well as the three thriving teams, the club also has an active social members group. Social members pay a minimum annual membership fee and have use of the pavilion bar and and indoor games facilities. Pool and darts are played regularly and in the winter months knockout competitions are organised for these two games along with shove-halfpenny, cribbage, dominoes etc. The bar is always open on Wednesday and Friday evenings as well as Sunday lunchtime and match days. There is a special membership rate for pensioners and free lifetime membership is offered to anyone born in 1912 or before.