Oxford University Cricket Club was founded somewhere between 1800 and 1805, and was known as the Magdalen Club until properly constituted as the OUCC in 1862. The first Varsity Match was played in June 1827 at Lord’s, and early home matches were played on Cowley Marsh. It was not until 1881 after the cricket pavilion was built (by Sir Thomas Jackson who also built the Bridge of Sighs), that the club moved to its present ground in the 91 acres of University Parks, bought in 1853 from Merton College.
The Parks successfully combine the functions of an arboretum with the provision of sport facilities for the university. They include more than 60 different genera of trees and 200 different specimens, under-planted by about half a million spring bulbs. The large expanse of grass was maintained by sheep and cattle until the introduction of mechanical mowing in 1937.
During the First World War, aeroplane hangars and a soldiers’ camp were built in the Parks, and in 1923-4, High Bridge that takes you over the Cherwell to Marston, was built as a relief project for the unemployed. In the Second World War the Parks were ‘dug for victory’ to provide 80 allotments. The iron railings were removed for munitions and not replaced until the 1960s.
The Parks are open daily except Christmas Eve.