“ Address: 7 & 8 Brewery Yard / Sheep Street / Stow-on-the-Wold / Cheltenham / Gloucestershire / GL54 1AA „
For anyone that happens to find themselves in the Cotswolds for any reason whatsoever, I'm certainly not going to pry, then if you are a fan of cricket and also have a free hour or so to spare I can thoroughly recommend a quick trip to the Cotswold Cricket Museum for a chance to see some simply wonderful cricket memorabilia. The museum is set upstairs above a quaint café and for just a pittance of £4.50 per person you can gain access to the museum and then get treated to a free tea or coffee afterwards. The privately owned museum has been built up over 20 years of ardent collecting by Andy Collier who, along with his wife, left Guildford for the charm of the Cotswolds and set up shop in Stow-on-the Wold back in April 2012, so it is still a very recent development as I regale you with this review and I predict is only likely to improve in the future as the collection grows while the money flows. You can tell by the condition of the collection that it has been well cared for and the passion behind it is so obvious that the enthusiasm becomes infectious as you walk around.
When my sister (a massive cricket fan) and I arrived we were fortunate enough to be the first visitors and were warmly greeted by Andy himself who led us up to the museum and gave us a great introduction to how the museum came about and what to expect before we were left to our own devices. It is, by museum standards, small with only two rooms to poke around in, but there is so much memorabilia laid out in a neat and professional looking way that it will probably take you a lot longer than you think as everywhere you look, including up into the rafters, there is something to catch your eye. Strolling around there are lots of information boards to read with interesting facts and stories, but for the most part there are some fabulous pieces like the bead chain used to measure 22 yards on the wicket, one of W.G. Grace's bats and his maid calling system, a board with the evolution of the cricket bat over the years starting from what looked like a hockey stick to the more familiar sight of today's heavy bats, players such as Phil Tufnell and Ian Botham's sweaters, a jersey collection, Steve Waugh's pads, a fabulous assortment of knickknacks like commemorative cigarette lighters, pipes and VIP entry badges, and a fantastic array of photographs and rare paintings of some of the greats.
However, the standout pieces for me were definitely some rare, authentic letters from the likes of Don Bradman which gave some fascinating insight into the man outside of cricket often on a personal level as well as several chronicles of old newspaper clippings from the early 20th Century onwards when cricket was reported in a whole lot more detail than the few paragraphs these days in between all the football news and gossip, and you can read about some amazing matches from years yonder and I definitely recommend you spend some time poring over these as the historical value is immense and just highlights what an institution cricket was/is. It is just amazing to compare the old game with the way it is now just to marvel at the changes the game has undergone. There is also some TV footage running at the far end spanning some notable events throughout the history of cricket, so you may find yourself getting absorbed watching interviews and sports action for a little while, which may well invoke feelings of nostalgia for the generation that can remember such events (though I fear I'm far too youthful with a gaping hole in my cricketing history knowledge for much of this footage to mean anything to me).
Whilst a lot of the memorabilia was international such as England V. Australia or South Africa, one thing we did notice was a on a county level there was a slight bias towards Surrey (which we later discovered was because Andy Collier was in fact a Surrey supporter) with scorecards from their games and a commemorative plaque showing their outstanding win in the Benson & Hedges trophy back in 1997 and all the results leading up to victory which was particularly interesting to us since we are also Surrey supporters, so whilst this probably won't appeal to non-Surrey fans, it certainly gave us an extra buzz. Once you have finished in the museum you are lead back downstairs into a small gift shop which sells things like birthday cards, books, coasters, cups with a cricketing twist so you can buy something to remember your visit by. At this point you can cash in on your free tea or coffee, and I don't know what the service would be like during very busy times, but for us there were about only two other patrons so we ended up having a very friendly chat with Andy who brought our lovely cuppas over in a teapot which capped off the visit perfectly.
There is also a lovely décor around the café with more pictures and models dotted around as well as a nice view outside in the courtyard the museum is set in where you can sit if it is a nice day (unless of course you enjoy sitting outside during inclement weather) and enjoy a leisurely drink or some of their lovely homemade cakes whilst admiring a pretty little garden just outside. So, all in all, this is a lovely little museum built upon a genuine passion for the sport which shines through with an eclectic and fascinating collection of some rare pieces which any cricket fan should really appreciate with some nostalgia thrown in the mix for those that have been following the game for decades all set in a beautifully relaxing setting in the slow paced town of Stow-on-the-Wold with some incredibly friendly service by the owners. I loved it, and my sister who is utterly mad about cricket also loved it, so if you are in the area and cricket is your thing you may well regret not giving this quaint little museum a visit.
7 & 8 Brewery Yard, Sheep Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL54 1AA
Tel: 01451 870083
Mob: 07768 840906
Tuesday-Saturday: 9:30am - 5:00pm
Sunday: 10:00am - 4:00pm
Bank Holidays: OPEN