Grace, W G, in Sydenham

William Gilbert ‘WG’ Grace, (1848–1915) was an English amateur cricketer who was important in the development of the sport and is widely considered to be one of its greatest-ever players. His profession was as a doctor. He qualified as a medical practitioner in 1879. He became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS).

Generally known as ‘WG’, he played first-class cricket for a record of 44 seasons – from 1865 to 1908. During that time he captained England, Gloucestershire, the Gentlemen, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the United South of England Eleven (USEE) and several other teams. Right-handed as both batsman and bowler, Grace dominated the sport during his career. His technical innovations and enormous influence left a lasting legacy. An outstanding all-rounder, he excelled at all the essential skills of batting, bowling and fielding but it is for his batting that he was most admired. He is regarded as having invented modern batsmanship. Usually opening the innings, he was particularly admired for his mastery of all strokes and his level of expertise was said by contemporary reviewers to be unique. Even if you do not play cricket or even have an interest in the game you will probably have heard of WG Grace.

Although the London area was to become his home in his later years, ‘WG’ lived for most of his life in Gloucestershire, where he practised as a doctor alongside his cricketing career. It was in the London area that Grace played his final cricket matches. He became manager of the new London County Club at Crystal Palace when he moved to No 7 Lawrie Park Road, Sydenham, in 1899. It was on his house that a plaque to Grace was originally erected in 1963 but that building was demolished the following year. The plaque was salvaged and re-erected on a house in Mottingham, where Grace spent his final years.

The house in which ‘WG’ lived in Sydenham, at No 7 Lawrie Park Road, was then known as St Andrews. After its demolition, a modern housing development was built on the site. On the outside wall is now a maroon Lewisham plaque recording the famous resident. On either side of the new development are new side-roads named Cricketers Walk and Doctor’s Close.

Above: This is NOT the house in which WG Grace lived. It is the house next door and it shows what grand houses stand in Lawrie Park Avenue. The house at No 7 that Grace lived in would have been very similar.

It is unfortunate that the house in which Grace once lived was demolished because there are similar houses on either side of the development which still remain from the days when he was living in Sydenham. For this reason, a nearby house is shown above to give some idea of how large the houses were in Lawrie Park Road. The road in which he lived lies within two administrations – the London Borough of Lewisham and the London Borough of Bromley. The house at No 7 is at the Sydenham end of the road – in the London Borough of Lewisham.

 

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