The setting is as magnificent as they come in the English county game, the square being overlooked by the imposing late-Victorian buildings of the college and St Luke's Church. During the two festival matches, a canvas fence encloses the ground, with many marquees and tents erected around the boundary. The college gymnasium, with its twin steeples, doubles as a pavilion and provides changing rooms.
The ground, renowned for its pronounced slope, is linked with some of the great names of cricket history. In 1876 W G Grace made an unbeaten triple century against Yorkshire and the following year he took 17 wickets against Nottinghamshire. In 1928, Walter Hammond performed one of the game's more remarkable all-round feats, scoring a century in each innings against Surrey as well as holding 10 catches in the match, the world record for a fielder other than the wicketkeeper.
In the last few years it has tended to be a lucky ground for Gloucestershire. Last year, they were beaten by Leicestershire after being dismissed for just 71 in the first innings, but the following week they amassed 569 in defeating Warwickshire by an innings, Matthew Windows making 184 and Andrew Symonds 127.
The 1995 festival was a good one for seamer Mike Smith, who returned 5-68 as Lancashire were bowled out for 117 and took 7-70 against Essex a week later, helping Gloucestershire to a second victory. This year's visitors are Derbyshire, starting on Wednesday, followed by Durham on 23 July.
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