Souvenirs from career of Yorkshire’s aristocratic skipper shed new light on sport’s golden age

Lord Hawke.
Lord Hawke.
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A PLATE of sandwiches and a packet of Hobnobs might pass for the tea-time refreshment at a county ground today, but newly unearthed trinkets owned by Yorkshire’s most successful captain reveal that standards might have slipped since cricket’s golden age 100 years ago.

Lord Hawke, a gentleman amateur in a world of professionals, who not only led the White Rose county to eight championship titles but was also credited with spreading the game throughout the British Empire, appears to have picked his biscuits from a silver barrel and taken his tipple of choice from a silver-mounted and monogrammed glass spirit flask.

The silver biscuit barrel that once belonged to Lord Hawke

The silver biscuit barrel that once belonged to Lord Hawke

His silverware also included an engraved George V salver with a Sheffield hallmark and a presentation silver goblet.

The engraved items, passed down through his family and going under the auctioneer’s hammer later this month, cast a fascinating light on a lost world of leather, willow and immaculately waxed moustaches.

Martin Blayden Hawke, the son of a clergyman, had become the 7th Lord Hawke on the death of his father in 1887, and was one of the few aristocrats to play at both county and test level.

He played for Eton, and in his first year at Cambridge in 1881 was invited to join Yorkshire.

He became captain two years later, at just 22, at the start of a vintage period for the county side, which remained under his direction until 1910.

Under his watch, Yorkshire became the first county to pay its professionals all year long. They had previously been on salary only for the summer and had been left to their own devices to find work in the winter months.

Lord Hawke also served as club president for 40 years until his death in 1938. He had taken up the position while still the team captain.

He played in 633 first-class matches for England, including five tests, scoring 13 centuries and a total of 16,749 runs.

He captained the national side four times and in 1914 was appointed president of the MCC, a post he retained throughout the First World War.

“Hawke was an extraordinary man whose long career bestrode the glory days of late Victorian and Edwardian cricket,” said auctioneer Guy Schooling, chairman of Sworders auctioneers in Essex, which is selling the haul.

The salver, presented to Lord Hawke in 1916 and inscribed with a greeting from “the West Indian Club and by cricketers throughout the West Indies as a slight token of their good wishes and grateful thanks”, is the most valuable of the items, with a guide price of £1,000-£1,500.

The biscuit barrel, made by the Sheffield silversmith Walker and Hall, was presented to him by “members of the cricket press” on the occasion of his marriage to Maud Ritchie in 1916.

Lord Hawke was a notable celebrity in his day, and was caricatured by portrait artist Leslie Ward, whose series of “Spy cartoons” appeared for four decades in Vanity Fair.

His silverware has come to light 15 years after an earlier cache of souvenirs went under the hammer. They had been passed to his great-great nephew Casper Ridley who played cricket for Winchester College.

Annabel Ridley, an artist in Richmond-on-Thames, who is selling the four new lots, said: “Of course it’s hard to part with these things, but it’s time for a change.”

Mr Schooling, himself a cricket fan, said: “I wasn’t in Australia for the latest Ashes series but I was there for the previous encounter and on both occasions England could have done with the support of a man of Hawke’s calibre.”