site unseen The first Lord's Cricket Ground, Dorset Square, London

The smell of cut grass and the sudden appearance in newspapers of long lists of cricket scores - baffling to the uninitiated - herald the arrival of summer.

All over the country, strange equipment emerges from lofts and attics. Liberal quantities of Ralgex are being applied to aching limbs after the first painful game. Euro 96 is just a fleeting distraction from the main business at hand.

Of course, cricket is not everyone's game but even the most unenthusiastic have heard of Lord's, the game's headquarters and home of the MCC - the Marylebone Cricket Club.

But wait a moment, isn't Lord's in St John's Wood? In which case, why isn't it the "StJWCC"? And why Lord's in the first place? Good questions. The answers are provided by a wine merchant whose father had lost out in Bonnie Prince Charlie's rebellion.

In 1786, a group of aristocrats, unhappy with their existing ground in Islington, commissioned Thomas Lord to provide new premises. As a Yorkshireman whose father's financial misfortunes were a permanent blight, the handsome Lord had ingratiated himself with the nobility - helped by his cricketing prowess, particularly some demon under-arm bowling.

Throughout the winter of 1786/87, the indefatigable Lord toiled away preparing a new ground in the rural fields of Marylebone. His efforts were rewarded on 31st May 1787, when Middlesex played Essex for the princely sum of 200 guineas - in other words, despite the objections of purists, cricket was a commercial pursuit from the start.

Twenty years later, however, the growth of London meant that this ground was no longer quite so secluded. It was time to move. The pitch was later surrounded by delightful Georgian housing, still present and elegantly correct. The square was named after one of Thomas Lord's patrons, the Duke of Dorset.

Thomas Lord built his second ground further to the north, picking an unpopular site that he opened in 1809. Fortunately for him, John Nash soon came knocking on the door. Eager to build the Regent's Canal, Nash needed Lord's land.

Lord acquiesced. This (third) time he went still further northwards, to distant St John's Wood, opening his new venue in 1814. The MCC has been here ever since. What it has, it certainly holds. Short of a bloody revolution, Lord's will live on for centuries to come.

But all cricket lovers should pay a visit to the shed in the middle of Dorset Square where a plaque commemorates Lord's efforts.

It all began here.

Dorset Square, London NW1

News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'