The Ashes: the oldest cricket trophy in the world

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Only played between England and Australia, the Ashes series is probably the oldest competition in the history of cricket, and the Ashes Urn is certainly the oldest of engraved awards to be presented in the sport.

The term ‘Ashes’ was first coined after a newspaper article in The Sporting Times, following England’s defeat at the hands of the Australians at The Oval in 1882. The article bemoaned the death of English cricket and suggested that the “body” be cremated and the ashes taken back to Australia. Immediately linked to the 1882-83 series, Ivo Bligh, the English captain, vowed to regain the mythical ashes and so the tour became known as ‘the quest to regain the Ashes’.

Standing just 15cm high, the terracotta urn is reputed to contain the burnt remains of a cricket bail. Other suggestions include the remains of Lady Darnley’s wedding veil and the ashes of a cricket ball, so the origin of the ashes themselves are still under some dispute. The urn remained in the possession of Bligh until after his death in 1927, whereby Lord Darnley’s widow Florence gave the urn to Marylebone Cricket Club.

It is on display in the museum at Lord’s with the original 1882 scorecard. The engraving on the urn says:

“When Ivo goes back with the urn, the urn
Studds, Steel, Read and Tylcote return, return
The welkin will ring loud
The great crowd will feel proud
Seeing Barlow and Bates with the urn, the urn
And the rest coming home with the urn.”

Here at H Cooper Glass Engravers, we can help create the perfect trophy, however unusual and unique.

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