A Piece of England in Uganda

Our friends at Ndali Lodge, Aubrey and Clare, got in touch to tell us about their new project - bringing a piece of England to their home in Uganda. 

It all started back in June (just before Uganda was put on the red-list), when they flew to England for an old friend's wedding. Spending their days in mandatory isolation at Aubrey’s childhood home in North Yorkshire, eating strawberries and playing croquet under the elusive British sun, they were ‘bitten by the bug’ of the sport. 

Mallets at the Ready!

The origins of croquet have been traced back to 1852 when a game called “crooky” was introduced to England from Ireland where it had been played since the 1830’s.

Croquet became highly popular as a social pastime in England during the 1860s. It was enthusiastically adopted and promoted by the Earl of Essex who held lavish croquet parties at Cassiobury House, his stately home in Watford, Hertfordshire. By 1870, croquet had reached virtually all of the British colonies where it continued to gain recognition through the turn of the century

Mallets at the Ready!

Returning to Ndali, they were determined to bring that experience back from England, and build their very own croquet lawn for guests to play on. 

The project is not without its challenges though! The beautiful Ndali Lodge is built on the rim of an extinct volcano - not the best terrain for a croquet lawn. One over-zealous swing at the ball and it would fly down into the lake below.

Recently, they've been clearing a steep slope on the estate to plant and grow as much fresh produce for the lodge as possible (including their beloved strawberries, of course). During this time, Aubrey came to the realisation that the old kitchen garden was perfect for their new project - no need to clear any forest and plenty of flat land to play croquet!

Mallets at the Ready!

In fact, they had so much space that the bulldozer is flattening to tiers of the garden - one tier for their croquet lawn and another for a new tennis court, with a small slope to separate them. 

However, not all has gone smoothly. Since hiring the bulldozer three weeks ago, it’s only gotten about three days worth of work done. Not only did Aubrey and Clare bring back the croquet with them, but also the British weather. Heavy rainfall has slowed down the job, but not the excitement for the new installation at Ndali Lodge.

Thank you to Watford Croquet and The Croquet Foundation of America for the facts, and to Getty Images for the croquet photo.

Mallets at the Ready!