Undue noise

Dean Wellesley (Dean of Windsor 1854-1882) was known for his tact, pleasant manner socially, and for being a close advisor to Queen Victoria. The first two qualities are shown by his response to a petition written to him by the daughters of the lay clerks living in the Horseshoe Cloister, who asked him for permission to play croquet on the lawn in 1874. In their request, they wrote:

“We promise that there shall be no damage to the Turf, or undue noise”

And in response, Wellesley wrote the following poem:

Surely the daughters of our Windsor Choir
Must to angelic perfectness aspire!
What mortals ere played croquet, without tattle,
Without – of tongues and balls th’united rattle?
Who do not stamp upon the Turf, and knock it
Indignant, when they’ve made a miss at croquet?
Still, to your suit, th’indulgent Chapter give
Conditioned and revocable leave
First – to the Horse Shoe inmates we confine
Those who in this exciting game may join,
None but the children of St George’s troop
Shall wield the mallet there or fix the hoop,
The Cloister is the pledge of care and quiet,
The Town would bring in trespassing, and riot
Next – croquet only we allow, not cricket
The single peg and not the double wicket
By ball that into areas descend
The windows broken he that owns, must mend,
No dogs must henceforth on the lawn be seen,
No refuse vile disgrace the well-kept green,
Lastly – our leave will on experience cease,
If spoiled our grass become, or spoiled our Peace,
To your own promise be yourselves but true
“No damage to the Turf – or noise undue.”

It is unclear whether the players kept to their promise, or whether Dean Wellesley had to ban the game.

A croquet set appeared again in 1954, offered as a gift to the Chapter. In this case, suitable storage was the issue rather than the noise which the game might generate. Use of the grass was not brought up as an issue, and indeed the members of Chapter were being encouraged to use the grass more. As an inducement, somewhere to store both croquet set and deck chairs was provided.

The croquet set was not to remain with the College long. In 1957 it was returned to Canon Vidler, who had been instrumental in securing the initial gift, and had since left the College. Perhaps the remainder of the community were not as enthusiastic about croquet as Canon Vidler or the daughters of the lay clerks.

The Queen's Free Chapel. The Chapel of the Most Honourable and Noble Order of the Garter. The Chapel of the College of St George.