Newmarket Real Tennis Club

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Founded 1901

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A brief History of Newmarket Real Tennis Club

Two Centuries of Real Tennis by John Shneerson
Two Centuries of Real Tennis by John Shneerson

The contents of this brief history of the club have been taken almost exclusively from John Shneerson’s excellent book Two Centuries of Real Tennis – with his permission of course. It is a fascinating book for all Real Tennis lovers but for members of this club it is particularly relevant as the vast majority of the book concentrates on the Suffolk House Tennis Court which became the Newmarket & Suffolk Real Tennis Club that exists today. If, after reading my précis, you would like a copy of John's book there are (at the time of writing) only a few copies left – please contact the club professionals if you are interested. The book is priced at (£25).

Précis by Adrian Thurley, Copyright © John Shneerson

Sir Charles Rose
Sir Charles Rose

The Newmarket Real Tennis Club exists thanks to Toad of Toad Hall. Or to be precise, because of the character the writer Kenneth Grahame based him on - Sir Charles Rose. Sir Charles was in many ways larger than life. He was born in 1847, married Elza (daughter of an MP) and they then had 4 sons and a daughter. All four sons died prematurely, three in active service, one in a traffic accident. This may have been the catalyst that drove Sir Charles to involve himself in such a wide variety of activities. Professionally he was a very successful banker and subsequently an MP.

Sir Charles' fleet!
Sir Charles' fleet!

His other interests included horse racing (becoming a member of the Jockey Club) yachting (where he challenged for The Americas Cup), the very new automobile (becoming chairman of the RAC), followed by the birth of Aviation (becoming Chairman of The Royal Aero Club) but the one interest that seems to have lasted longer than all the others was Tennis. He built two courts at Hardwick and one, fortunately for us, in Newmarket.

Sir Charles bought Suffolk House (which used to be on the High Street side of the existing club building) in 1890. He bought the land where the club now sits in 1899 and applied for planning permission to build a Tennis Court on this land in 1900.

Joseph Bickley
Joseph Bickley

After approval he employed the specialist Tennis Court builder of the time - Joseph Bickley. He had built the courts at Queens, Holyport, Newcastle & Hardwick House. He was also involved with most of the courts built in the USA at that time.

The Newmarket court was officially opened on 29 June 1901 and was generally accepted as being an advance over all its predecessors. It cost Sir Charles £6,000 - the equivalent of £542,460 in 2011!

Court official opening 29 June 1901
Court official opening 29 June 1901

The opening of the court was marked by an exhibition match between Peter Latham, world champion, and Cecil “Punch” Fairs, head professional at Prince’s Club, Knightsbridge. Fairs received 15 and a bisque and won by three sets to two (4-6, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4).

Sir Charles engaged Peter Latham (1865-1953) as professional from the time of opening the court until 1907.

Peter Latham
Peter Latham

Latham was also world champion at rackets – the only player to ever hold both championships simultaneously. This was a time of increasing interest in the game which in-turn spurred higher speeds and a higher standard of play. Sir Charles was keen that the court was used regularly – but only in daylight at this stage as there was no lighting. He regularly organized exhibition matches – on at least one occasion causing King Edward VII to be late for the races whilst he watched a match!

Residents of Newmarket could play for free at this time.

Court 1908
The Court in 1908

In 1908, Sir Charles decided to sell Suffolk House – possibly as the result of the death of his son Adrian, a drop in the stock market or his enthusiasm for the court he had just built at Hardwick (the 2nd one he built there – his 3rd in total).

Sale Advert
Sale Advert

It was put up for auction at 5pm on Mon 18 May 1908 – there were no bids. Sir Charles therefore rented Suffolk House and the Tennis Court to the 9th Duke of Manchester (1872-1947). He employed Cecil “Punch” Fairs as professional from 1908-1912. Fairs was also world champion making the Newmarket court unique in having its first two professionals as current world champions!

In 1912 Sir Charles decided to occupy Suffolk House again. He renovated and repaired the tennis court – especially the floor which had cracked. He then put Hardwick House its estate and Tennis Court up for sale but he died suddenly two weeks later on 20 April 1913 before the planned sale in July. On the day of his demise he had taken his first and only flight - in a Farman biplane at Hendon. He was taken ill on the drive home and died of a heart attack – it was attributed to the excitement of the flight and was the first recorded death attributed to flight rather than a flying accident. His family then decided to keep Hardwick and sell Suffolk House but it failed to reach its reserve of £3,600 although bidding did reach £3,350.

Sir Charles’s only surviving son Captain Frank Rose (1877-1914) inherited Suffolk House & of course the tennis court both of which he rented out. He himself was killed fighting in Belgium the following year. His widow continued to rent out the house to a series of Race Horse owners: Oscar Lewisohm (1913-15), Mrs H Fenwick (1915-17) & finally Bob Seiver (1917-20). During this period interest & enthusiasm for tennis waned for several reasons: the tenants' priority was racing, the First World War and the ensuing financial chaos. Not much is known of the players at the time but tantalizingly, in 1995 during the restoration, a visitor mentioned that he had the original visitor’s book. He chalked his phone number on the walls but it was painted over and lost. All efforts to find him have failed. So if you do know the whereabouts of the Suffolk House Tennis Court Visitors Book – please get in touch! So although the court was in perfect condition in 1920 its use as tennis court was coming to an end – for many years.

1920-1992 – No Play!

The court circa 1950
The court circa 1950

Lady Rose sold Suffolk House and the tennis court to Ernest Crisswell on 5 August 1920. His first use of the court was for his reception after he married Ethel Harper on 11 January 1921.

The house and the court were extensively modified with the court used as a garage under various owners until 1971.

The court in 1968
The court in 1968

The house and court were then sold to Wallis & Son Ltd for £13,500 (two thirds of the value attributed to the tennis court building). They used it as a warehouse. They also demolished the stables and accommodation that had stood where we now park. Suffolk House was completely demolished shortly afterwards. On 3 February 1978 Ablondi Tiles Ltd bought the court for £18,000. They used the court for their Italian ceramic tiles business. The court was sold again in 1981 for £47,000 to Hescot Ltd – importers of Polish furniture. It was sold next to P G Glazerite in 1984 for £87,000 – they used it for their glazing business. They went in to liquidation in 1990 and on 22 July 1992 the court passed into the hands of the receivers.

1992-1993 Acquisition

The court 1992
The court 1992

John Shneerson was in touch with PG Glazerite from 1989 about acquiring the Court if it was not needed for their business. They were in touch in 1991 about their intention to sell the building and steps were taken to try to finance its purchase. On the 17 March 1992 the Newmarket Real Tennis Club Limited was formed with John Shneerson and Anthony Coles as Joint Directors. They were able to raise around £150,000 and bought the Court on the 5 August 1993, 73 years to the day since it had been sold by Lady Rose.

The structure of the Court was sound, but it had been drastically modified over the years. There was a 15x14 foot opening on to where the car park now is to let heavy goods vehicles in and out. Two floors of offices had been built above a shop inside the Court at the hazard end where the penthouses had been. There were steel gantries in the Court for industrial purposes and large quantities of metal, brick and other debris in the Court. The roof was leaking and there was no usable internal lighting.

1993-1995 – Renovation

The Court had to be made secure, the roof repaired and thought given to the best way to renovate the Court using modern methods and materials.

After quotes from various builders, Lynxcourt Limited based in Newmarket were awarded the renovation project in November 1993. However, it also had to produce a hard-wearing and durable finish. It also had to “play” faithfully! Some careful planning was required!

The Service end!
The Service end!

The walls had to be re-plastered using a modern plaster (Arducrete B12) with a black colouring added. This produced a good playing surface but had to be painted as well in the end because it was not dark enough.

The Hazard end!
The Hazard end!

Andrew Hamilton generously donated the oak gallery posts, turned in the design of the original posts, from his estate in Warwickshire.


The penthouse angle was one feature which was changed from the original design angle of 22 degrees. 24 degrees was chosen to assist services (other than a railroad) placing it between Cambridge & Manchester & similar to Queens's (23.25) and Lords (26.25).

Several options were considered for the floor including polishing the original Bickley floor but the final solution was to float a 6 mm Epoxy Resin covering (with red colouring).

Court Lines. It was decided to use Sir Charles Rose's racing colours for the lines. His grand-daughter (Lady Rose) provided information about the almost identical court at Hardwick. From this & old photographs the lines were drawn - 1 1/3 inches wide.


Restoration complete

The restoration overran the original planned finish date but was completed on 27 April 1995. The first match took place that day between John Shneerson & Anthony Coles almost 75 years since the previous game!

John Shneerson

Apart from writing the excellent book Two Centuries of Real Tennis, John was also a director of the club until 1996.

He is still playing and we owe him and all those who gave their time and effort to make the club what it is today - a great deal.

1999 - 2011

Following financial problems in the first 4 years, the tennis court was acquired on 1 October 1999 by a new company called Newmarket & Suffolk Real Tennis Ltd, formed by John Burnett, Chris Hollingsworth, and Alex Riley. Over the 11 years the Club gradually increased its membership numbers and the Professional Andrew Knibbs was joined on an increasingly permanent basis by Mark Hobbs until it had two full time Pros. The Club held a very successful and enjoyable Centenary celebration on 29 June 2001, exactly to the day 100 years after the opening of the court.

But after 11 years the three directors decided that the long-term future of the property as a tennis club would be better secured by a complete change of ownership and management by the Membership. The name Newmarket Real Tennis Club Ltd had by now become available again, and this was chosen to become the vehicle for the members to purchase the Club with the help of repayable interest free loans from around 150 people from the tennis community as a whole.

Précis by Adrian Thurley, Copyright © John Shneerson

Real Tennis Rackets

Rackets & Accessories
Standard £130
Standard (Round handle) £135.00
Club Special £150.00
Gray's Extratec £235
Gray's Extratec (round handle) £250.00
String £26.00
Grip £4
Grip - Wilson over £4

Court & Lesson Fees

Category Duration £ AK MH
Junior Singles 60 mins £4    
Singles Off-Peak 60 mins £8    
Singles Peak 60 mins £9    
Doubles Off-Peak 60 mins £5    
Doubles Peak 60 mins £6    
Lesson Off-Peak 60 mins £25 £33 £33
Lesson Peak 60 mins £25 £34 £34
Junior Lesson 60 mins £15 £19 £19
Club Match Singles per match (3-ALL 3rd set) £35    
Club Match Doubles per match (3-ALL 3rd set) $50    


  1. Peak time is Monday to Friday from 4pm to 9pm (i.e. 9-10pm is off peak).
  2. Lesson Fees do not include Court fees.

Subscription Rates

Membership Type Cost
Adult (1) £140
Family (2) £200
Country (3) £30
Interim (4) £60
Junior (5) £30
Student (6) £30
Corporate (4 employees) £500
Corporate (10 employees) £1000


  1. Adult Membership = over 25.
  2. Family Membership comprises husband/wife/partner and children under 18.
  3. Country Membership = living more than 30 miles, from the club, and entitled to play only twice per month.
  4. Interim Membership = 18 to 25.
  5. Junior Membership = up to 18.
  6. Student Membership = in full time education up to 25.

This section has been withdrawn.

NRTC Committee

Name Term Title Responsibilities
Directors Numbers 3-5   Policy & Strategy, Management of General Issues
Jeremy Richardson 3 years to May 15 Chairman, Legal & Pro Manager Chair meetings, Liaise with T&RA, Legal, Charitable status, Health & Safety, Line manager for Professionals
Stuart Arrandale 3 years to May 15 Treasurer Financial Control, Accounts, Pros salaries, CASC Admin
Sam Shepherd 3 years to May 16 tbc  
Committee Numbers 2-6 in addition to Directors   Leadership of areas of responsibility
Hazel Dunn 3 years to May 16 AGM Secretary Communications with members, Admin
Ian Lindsay 3 years to May 17 Fixtures & Tournaments Attendance at T&RA Fixture meetings & coordination of matches, Child Safety - CRB responsibility, Committee minutes
Eric Nutter 3 years to May 15 Membership & Recruitment Membership and maintenance of data, Recruitment policy, working with pros
Adrian Thurley 3 years to May 17 Website Manager Hosting, maintenance & content of website, regular updates with club news and events
Derrick Wells 3 years to May 16 Social Secretary Hosting & arranging events




You can download a pdf file copy of this page here

The Constitution operates totally within the context of the Articles of Association of the Newmarket Real Tennis Club Ltd, which take precedence in any discrepancy. It includes Rules for the day-to-day safe and fair operation of the Club for the benefit of all members.


The name of the club is The Newmarket Real Tennis Club Ltd.


The main aim of The Newmarket Real Tennis Club is to provide and promote facilities for members, visitors and the local community to play real tennis in Newmarket.

To achieve this aim, the objectives are to manage, maintain and develop the court and other premises and facilities of the Club and to enable and encourage real tennis to be played at the Club by offering a range of competitive and friendly games, matches, competitions and exhibitions. The Club will employ professional staff and others to offer coaching, training and support for members, potential members and visitors. It will organise and hold relevant social and other events and offer sports clothing and equipment for sale, hire or use. It will maintain effective communication with members and with the Real Tennis community, including affiliation to appropriate organisations.


Membership is open to all, irrespective of ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, religion, beliefs, age or disability. The Club’s Professionals will make every effort to provide an introduction to the game and the Club.

The ordinary membership of the Club consists of those individuals or corporate organisations, accepted by the Committee, who have paid an annual subscription and levy as applicable.

Membership categories & conditions

Type Age Notes
Full Adult Over 25  
Family 2 Adults + Juniors  
Country Any Living more than 30 miles from the club. Playing no more than twice per month
Interim Age 18-25  
Junior Age up to 18  
Student Age up to 25  
Corporate To be agreed by the Directors, dependant on the facilities used  

Court booking is available up to 4 weeks in advance by all categories of members, through individual use of the online system.

Founder Members are those who have made a donation or loan for the purchase of the club at its inception. A display board is to be erected at the Club listing contributors, and an annual handicap tournament for Founder Members to be held as a social event. Non-member Founders will be given one courtesy court without visitor fee, per Loan unit, up to three, for each year that they hold a loan note.

Visitors are welcome to play subject to court availability. A visitor’s fee is payable in addition to the normal court fee. Any visitor may play a maximum of 4 times during the Club’s year before incurring a country membership charge.

All members and visitors are required to conduct themselves on and off court in a manner consistent with the etiquette of the game, to treat opponents and officials in a fair manner and to observe the rules of the Club. Members and visitors play at their own risk and are required to take due note of Health and Safety rules. The Club takes no responsibility for injury or for any loss of, or damage to, personal property.

Clothing worn on court for all games, practice & coaching should be predominantly white, conforming to T&RA standards. If possible members should wear club colours for playing representative games.

Termination of membership

A member may withdraw from membership by giving notice to the Club in writing. No refund of the remaining subscription or levy will normally be made.

The directors may expel a member from the Club only for good and sufficient cause (see Article 13.2). The member shall be given an opportunity to make an explanation of their behaviour for consideration.

Subscriptions & payments

The annual subscription for each class of membership and other fees shall be determined by the Executive Committee, and ratified by the Club in General Meeting. Subscriptions are due on the first day of October each year. A standing order is the preferred method of payment. It is the responsibility of members to ensure that the correct amount is paid on time.

Court fees and other costs are listed on the Club’s website and notice board, and individual accounts are presented via the online booking system. It is each member’s responsibility to check these and to ensure that payment for subscriptions and fees is made within 30 days of the due date. Failure to do so may result in administration charges or in the suspension of playing rights. It is suggested that members who play regularly may wish to pay a monthly standing order to cover court fees.

Members may cancel a court booking up to 48 hours in advance without penalty. Cancellations with less notice will incur a fee or full payment for the court if no replacement player is found.

Loan Notes

Founder members have enabled the purchase of the Club by means of Numbered Loan Notes made in multiples of £300, and by donations. Loans are to be repaid over a period of time

  • in the first instance to the estates of deceased members if so requested
  • in the second, to members applying to the committee on grounds of financial hardship
  • after these, by means of a draw of an agreed number of loans each year.

Membership Levy

The Levy is the means by which the Membership ultimately buys ownership of the Club, and will be used solely to repay an agreed number of loans from the Founder Members each year. It will be charged to all Full, Adult Family and Country members playing more than 4 times during the year. The Levy will be collected annually, (but may be paid monthly by Standing Order), until all loans are repaid.



There shall be between 3 and 5 directors who administer the affairs and property of the Club and have responsibility to manage the Company’s business. They shall arrange for minutes to be kept of all meetings of Directors and of AGMs & EGMs. One of the directors shall be the Chairman of the Club. For conditions for termination of a Director’s appointment see Article 9.


In addition to the directors, there shall be between 2 and 6 full members who are elected by the membership to assist in running the functions of the Club and representing members’ views.

Officers shall include Honorary Treasurer and Honorary Secretary. Other specific management responsibilities include: the employment of professional and other staff, the fabric of the Club, fixtures and specified competitions, and social events.

The Head Professional shall be an ex-officio member of the Committee.

Nominations, Elections & Tenure

Election of Officers and Committee Members shall take place at the AGM of the Club. Any 2 full adult members of the Club may nominate a member for Office or Committee, this to be in writing and received by the Secretary at least 14 days prior to the AGM. The Executive shall have the power to co-opt further members to fill a vacancy or perform a necessary function during the year. At each AGM any directors or committee members not appointed at a previous AGM must resign and, if willing, offer themselves for reappointment by the membership.

Officers and Committee Members shall hold office for a maximum of 3 years before standing down. They may if they wish stand for re-election, subject to the requirements of the Committee. Initially the period of office is to be phased in order to retain some continuity.


AGM and other General Meetings

The Club shall hold an AGM each year by specific call to members. 21 days notice of the time, date, and place is to be given for AGM/EGMs, together with an indication of the business of the meeting. The Chairman shall take the chair, or in his/her absence a Director. A quorum will exist when 10 members with voting rights are present.

Attendance and voting

Each member, founder member with an outstanding Loan Note, or corporation as member is entitled to attend any general meeting. Each has one vote, normally by show of hands. Proxy votes will be accepted, a notice of this to be received by the Club not less than 48 hours prior to the time of the meeting.


The financial year shall end on last day of September and the audited accounts presented at the following AGM.

An Auditor shall be appointed annually at the AGM


The Club may communicate with members through its Website and online booking system, by electronic means, by display on the Club’s notice boards, by publication, or failing these, by post to a UK address.

It is the duty of each member to ensure that the Club holds his/her current addresses including email, and telephone numbers.



The Constitution may only be changed by majority agreement at an AGM or EGM.


In the event of dissolution of The Club, any property remaining after the settlement of all its debts and liabilities shall not be distributed to members, but shall be given or transferred to a suitable sporting body in accordance with Article 5.3 of the Articles of Association.


The Articles of Association together with other Company documents may be inspected at the offices of the Club.

March 2011

Amended AGM 16 June 2011


The rules summarised below are designed for the day-to-day safe and fair operation of the Club for the benefit of all members. The full rules are contained within the Club’s Constitution and in playing guidelines for tournaments and matches.


  • Full Membership is open to all, irrespective of ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, religion, beliefs, age or disability.
  • Country Members must live more than 30 miles from club, maximum play is twice per month
  • Juniors & Students age up to 18 and 25 respectively, must be in full-time education
  • Founders who are not members may play at any time as visitors. They may use one free court per Loan unit, up to three, for each year that they hold a loan note
  • Visitors may play a maximum of 4 times during the Club’s year or must pay a joining fee

Personal details

  • Members are to ensure that the Club holds current addresses, email, & phone no.

Termination of membership

  • Notice should be given to the Club in writing. No refund of the remaining subscription or levy will normally be made.
  • The directors may expel a member from the Club only for good and sufficient cause (Article 3.2)


The Professionals have the full authority of the Directors & Committee to enforce Health & Safety rules.

  • They must address the dangers and safety issues of play when advising members and visitors
  • They must close the court when, in their professional judgement, play is dangerous
  • They must inspect all netting monthly and should sweep the court after each 6-hour period
  • Matches should be marked from the Dedans
  • Safety glasses or goggles: It is mandatory for juniors to wear approved safety glasses or goggles when having lessons, and most strongly advised for all when playing.

Players must abide by decisions made by the professional, and take reasonable responsibility at all times for acting safely on the Club premises


Court Conduct

  • All players must conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the etiquette of the game and observe the rules of the Club.
  • Clothing worn on court should be predominantly white.

Club and Court Fees

  • All charges must be paid within 30 days or may attract administration charges or the suspension of playing rights.
  • Subscriptions are due on 1st October.

Cancellation charges

  • Members may cancel a court booking up to 48 hours in advance without penalty. For less notice, the full court cost will be charged. Half of the court fee will be waived if the pros manage to rearrange a game.
  • A late cancellation of a lesson will incur a £10 fee to the coach if the lesson is not taken by another member.


  • Tournaments are open to Club Members of all categories. Entries will be closed in mid-October and the draw made. The tournament entry fee and appropriate club subscription must be paid before the first round is played. All players have responsibility for arranging games and offering a realistic selection of dates to their opponents. Failure to meet the deadline for each round may result in a walk-over. This will be adjudicated by the professionals. All games must be completed by May so that cups may be presented at the AGM.


  • Guidelines for Match Managers advise them to liaise with their opposite visiting manager at least 6 weeks prior to the fixture, to arrange for a match marker if at home, and confirm details with their team members.
  • Managers are responsible for collecting fees and completing a results card. They and team members should be present for as much of the day as is practicable to ensure that visitors are hosted, suitable refreshments are available, that the marker is enabled to have a lunch break, and that the club is tidy at the end of the day.



  • There shall be between 3 and 5 directors, one of whom shall be the Chairman of the Club.
  • Minutes to be kept of all meetings of Directors and of AGMs & EGMs
  • For rules for termination of a Director’s appointment see Article 9.


  • Election of Officers and Committee Members shall take place at the AGM of the Club. They and their nominators must be full adult members of the Club.
  • Officers and Committee Members shall hold office for a maximum of 3 years before standing down. They may stand for re-election, subject to the requirements of the Committee. Any co-opted members must stand down and may offer themselves for reappointment at the next AGM.

AGM and other General Meetings

  • The Club shall hold an AGM each year by specific call to members giving at least 21 days’ notice of the time, date, and place and business of the meeting. The meeting will be taken by the Chairman or a Director. A quorum will exist when 10 members with voting rights are present.