Autochthony, or A Few Months in the Country

“England was first and foremost a place – though a place consecrated by custom.  There thus grew on English soil a patriotism not unlike that from which the word ‘patriotism’ derives – the patriotism of the Romans, in which the homeland, rather than the race, was the focus of loyalty.”

“Cricket’s pre-industrial origins have thus stamped the game with a unique interplay between the collective and the individual, derived from its special alchemy of space and time … Because it is played out over a longer period of time than other sports, cricket is more susceptible to the vagaries of weather.  English cricket skills were developed to cope with these vagaries; the aim was not so much to master the environment as to exploit it … Its grounds remain astonishingly diverse in size, shape, exposure to the elements, quality of pitch and outfield. This diversity does not reflect mere foot dragging by old-fashioned cricket authorities.  It is the product of cricket’s autochthony,  one of the game’s inner secrets.

The word comes from the Greek, autochthon, of the land itself.”

“… and that is what I mean when I describe England as an enchanted landscape … To describe the attitude of the English to their landscape as Arcadian is to miss the real significance of what they did.  They remade the landscape as the outward sign of their inner unity, as a place that was a fitting home for their collective act of dwelling.  And all that they most loved in their society … they unconsciously imprinted on the face of England, to produce that inimitable patchwork which was one of the few things, besides the clouds and the climate, that their painters knew how to furnish with a soul.”

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Photographs taken at various cricket grounds in the East Midlands, between April and September 2016.

Quotations taken from “Anyone But England” by Mike Marqusee and “England : an Elegy” by Roger Scruton.


3 thoughts on “Autochthony, or A Few Months in the Country

  1. Hi Nick,

    It would be of interest to me – not sure about anyone else – if you could provide a list of the club grounds. I’m interested in that sort of thing, even though I’ll never visit any of them (Belper is a possible exception as you speak so highly of it and I have a brother who lives in Derby).

    Sorry if this is tedious, but you do at least have all winter!


  2. Hello Brian
    As far as I can remember, they’re as follows –
    2-3, 41 = Kibworth – 5, 15, 25-26, 32 = Market Harborough – 8 = Oakham School – 11-12 = Hinckley – 14 = Wardown Park, Luton – 17,33-34 = Lutterworth – 19-22 Desborough – 23-24, 37-40 Belper – 27-30 Finedon Dolben – 35 = Lubenham – 36 = Little Bowden Rec. (South Harborough CC)
    The others are either county grounds or pictures of clouds.
    Belper might not be to everyone’s taste, but I’m very fond of it. Hope this helps & that you’re keeping well!
    Best wishes


  3. Thanks, Nick. A bit tricky to work out which is which, but thanks for taking the trouble to list them.

    There’s one there I’ve been to (Luton, back in the days when Northants played there), while all the others give a classic feeling of timeless Englishness.


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