Dale Vargas reports:
Glyndebourne Eton Fives courts
Krystyna and I were at Glyndebourne last evening and took the opportunity of investigating the remains of the Eton Fives courts there (I believe there were two and the dimensions of the space would support that). The usher was able to show us the remains (half a front wall with upper ledge and some flagstone flooring) and to give us some detail. John Christie, the owner of Glyndebourne Manor, had been an Eton master and when he started to put on operas at his house, he asked his former colleague, the precentor (Director of Music) at Eton – I think he was called Lloyd - to be the musical director. Lloyd agreed, on condition that Christie provided him with an organ, which Christie proceeded to do. He knocked down the Fives courts and replaced them with an organ room. Sadly Lloyd died in 1919 before the work was completed. The organ is no longer working; much of the piping has been used for organs in other places such as the Brighton Dome. The room is used for opera goers to ‘sit out’ and for latecomers to watch the performance on a screen until an appropriate moment for them to enter the auditorium!
This article was first published in the 2009 Fives Federation Annual Review
Giles Coren lays out his vision of Fives in 2012…
The 2012 London Olympics are now less than three years away, and the completion of the Olympic stadium not much more than four. Soon after that, the Olympic Village will be almost ready and I have no doubt that all the necessary transport links and other infrastructure needed to link the new sporting facilities on the Eastern marshes to London proper, and the rest of the world, will be ready in time for the next time the Games are awarded to Britain in, ooh, 2036?
This article first appeared in the Fives Federation Annual Review in 2010. Since then an attempt has been made - although the project is currently on hold - to renovate the Caius College courts. Cambridge also now has three new courts in the West Cambridge University Sports Centre.
A look into the history of the College courts of Cambridge
The Magdalene College court
Many Fives players have memories of playing matches for and against Cambridge University at Portugal Place, which was for years the focus of the game in Cambridge, with its two flagstone-floored Eton Fives courts, its tatty armchairs and the unmistakable aroma lingering from generations of sweaty leather gloves. More recently, since the demolition of Portugal Place in the mid 1990s and the conversion of the Leys School courts to a climbing wall, the University club has had to rely on the single court in Magdalene College to keep the game alive.