Ashes founders remembered at Cobham service
PUBLISHED: 16:19 19 May 2011 | UPDATED: 16:49 19 May 2011
Great great grandsons of Ivo Bligh and Florence Morphy, the original owners of the Ashes, one of the most prized sporting trophies, laid wreathes on the new restored grave at a re-dedication ceremony yesterday.
Honorary librarian to the Cricket Society Howard Milton, of Elmfield Close, Gravesend first decided to restore the Lord’s grave, which had fallen into disrepair in St Mary Magdalene church graveyard, Cobham, inspiring the society to collect £3,500 for the project.
Family members of the 8th Earl of Darnley including great great grandsons Edward Bligh and Oumar Sagna, alongside the Australian High Commissioner John Dauth, attended the service and heard of the quirky twist of fate, and the enduring love story behind the creation of the iconic Urn.
Mr Milton said: “It was astonishing that tours would be taken to Cobham Hall (where the urn was kept for 27 years at the beginning of the 20 Century) but knew nothing of his grave. Apart from his family no-one knew it was there. This is one of the most important sporting graves in the world. Where else can you find a husband and wife so taken up with the history of a sporting icon?”
Lord Bligh, the 8th Earl of Darnley, caused scandal in his family when on a cricketing tour of Australia in 1882 he fell in love with local girl Florence Morphy, governess to The Clarke family who were in charge of organising fixture between the sides.
Lady Clarke presented Lord Bligh with the Urn as a joke following an obituary written about English cricket following a lose to Australia the previous year and the Ashes travelled back to Cobham where they remained until after his death in 1927 when Florence passed it over to MCC where it remains at Lords Cricket Ground.
Mr Dauth said: “Ivo had the ashes and kept them all these years but it was Florence, who gave them to MCC. I am a huge cricteting fan, but I am also here as a representative of my country honouring this couple.”