FIVES COURT – A PRECIOUS RARITY
Graeme McQueen, Head of Development and Alumni Relations was delighted to welcome Tom Kiggell, Master in Charge of Fives at Marlborough College and David Barnes, Archivist of The Rugby Fives Association.
The reason for the visit was to see our historic Fives Court which is believed to be one of the oldest in Britain. The School dates the court from around 1780 and famous Old Verlucian and Headmaster of Rugby School, Thomas Arnold, played Fives at Warminster School at the beginning of the 19th century.
Fives is an English sport believed to derive from the same origins as many racquet sports. In Fives, a ball is propelled against the walls of a special court using a gloved hand as though it were a racquet. Many famous schools including Eton, Winchester and Marlborough play versions of this game today. The game of Warminster Fives, based on Wessex Fives, was played at Warminster School until the 1970s.
Tom and David were very impressed by the court which they regard as being historically significant, in good condition and very playable. David Barnes commented “The wall itself is Grade II listed and cannot therefore be extended or built onto in any way, thus limiting the options, but it is in good condition and fully capable of withstanding the impact of a fives ball or handball”.
Speculating on the origin of our School court, David was able to tell us that, in his view, it is a classic example of a West Country court of its time, with another example being found in the nearby town of Mere and is a precious rarity.
Graeme McQueen said, “We look forward to investigating ways of bringing this historic game back to the current generation of Warminster pupils under the direction of Chris Knight, Director of Sport and welcoming a Marlborough College team for an exhibition match in the near future”.