In the spring of 1832, three young men were attending a meeting of The Edinburgh University Speculative Society, an influential legal, philosophical and political think tank, which still exists today. The trio grew bored by the protracted meeting and slipped away into an outer hall. A discussion about cricket ensued and it was decided that a team should be formed.
The three men were:
Edward Horsman (1807 – 1876)
Hailing from a wealthy Stirlingshire family, related to the Earl of Stair, Horsman was educated at Rugby School then Cambridge and played in the first two Varsity games of 1827 and 1829. He was called to the Scottish Bar in 1832, going on to have an illustrious political career as Liberal MP for Cockermouth, Stroud and Liskeard and Chief Secretary for Ireland under Lord Palmerston.
David Mure (1810 – 1891)
An early President of the Grange Cricket Club and educated at Winchester School, Mure went on to become Lord Advocate for Scotland and a Judge of the Court of Session under the title Lord Mure.
James Moncreiff (1811 – 1895)
Educated at The High School then Edinburgh University and called to the Bar in 1833, Moncrieff was Solicitor General for Scotland, Lord Advocate, Lord Justice Clerk, Privy Counsellor, Rector of Glasgow University, MP for Leith Burghs, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities. He received a peerage in 1871, was created a Baronet and then raised to the Peerage in 1874 as Baron Moncreiff of Tulliebole.
A first challenge for the club’s founders was to find a ground for their use. They approached another cricketer John Dick Lauder, eldest son of of Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, to ascertain if his father would grant them use of some of his land on the Grange estate. This approach was greeted favourably and a formal lease was signed allowing use of a field near Grange House.
The field was situated on the other side of Grange Loan and further east to the current Carlton ground, but was rather rough. It did, however, make Grange the first club in Scotland to have their own ground. As well as practise, matches were organised from 1832 onwards against the few other clubs in existence. The club named themselves Grange after the area in which they were playing.
The club soon outgrew the limited facilities at Grange Loan, moving in 1836 to a “good, level field” just west of Grove Street. They did, however, retain the name of Grange, a fact which has caused some confusion over the years. This ground became well known and hosted many great fixtures, most notably the first “Grand Match” played in Scotland, when in 1849 William Clarke’s All England XI played Twenty-two of Scotland. This match had a great influence in the growth of cricket in Scotland. Grange had by this time considered itself Scotland’s most senior club, in 1846 issuing a challenge to “All Scotland”, which no-one took up.
Cricket was played at this ground until 1862, when the land was sold for tenement housing. The loss of Grove Street marked a change in the club’s fortunes as many of the old members drifted away from the club and a new younger membership tried to establish iteself and shape the club’s future. The club became, for a short time, a wandering club, first being granted permission to share usage of Edinburgh Academy’s Raeburn Place ground and then, from 1864, the embryo ground at Fettes College, which at that time was being built. Finally, in 1871, they secured a lease over an eleven acre field, at that time part of Inverleith Farm, immediately to the east of the Edinburgh Academy ground. Grange started playing at this ground in 1872, which remains their home to this day.
Scotland’s Premier Club
After their move to Raeburn Place, Grange were recognised as Scotland’s premier club for the rest of the Victorian era. The current pavilion was opened in 1893, replacing an earlier smaller structure. It remains the finest sports pavilion in Scotland and is a listed building. The Scotland team had started to play at Raeburn Place in 1878, when Scotland played Yorkshire. Up to 2021 no less than 161 Scotland capped games have been played at Raeburn Place, exactly 100 more than the second most used ground.
A Scottish Cricket Union was formed in 1879, but soon ran into financial difficulties. Grange offered to take over the running of Scottish cricket and this offer was accepted. From 1883 to 1908 Grange carried out this role.
With their senior role in Scottish Cricket, it is no surprise that Grange were regular visitors to play MCC at Lord’s. Ten visits were made between 1892 & 1908 for two day matches, with Grange scoring 557 for 9 declared on their first visit. The most noted visit to Lord’s was in 1901, when Grange beat a MCC team, which included Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, by an innings and 18 runs. In the MCC first innings, Conan Doyle suffered a fate never experienced by Sherlock Holmes – he was out stumped. The scorecard can be viewed via the link below.
Two day fixtures were a feature of the Grange Fixture List during the later Victorian era, with fixtures against Northumberland County, Oxford University Authentics and leading English clubs as well as MCC.
For the full story (with pictures!), click here to download the Grange 175 year brochure.