Great Dunham Croquet Club is a new private club situated in the village of Great Dunham near Swaffham, Norfolk.
There is one full sized lawn which was created in 2017. The lawn has some hills which will add a certain flavour to the game. The photos show how the lawn and clubhouse have developed during their construction.
The site was a paddock with a hedge and a number of small trees and about 60 tons of soil heaped up in the far corner. David of Dunham Diggers removed the hedge and trees. He also made the hole for the clubhouse base and, with the co-operation of Stephen Spencer, the farmer, disappeared the huge spoil heap over the fence into several farm trailers which whisked it away.
Three of us aging men constructed the log cabin in two days and it took a few more to add the finishing touches.
The building of the clubhouse base had been interrupted by storm force winds and a deluge of rain. The blue truck got stuck in the mud and the prospective croquet lawn looked quite sad. I flattened it all with a Volvo Road Roller and acquired 12 tons of very sandy top soil from a local Carrstone pit. Using a 12 ft aluminium ladder as a lute I filled the worst of the dips, seeded with Barenbrug Bar Extreme after applying a pre-seeding fertiliser and covered the seed with seeding compost. This process took a few days single handed spread over four weeks. Germination was excellent and happened in 5 to 10 days depending on how warm the weather was. Although there are plenty of birds here I saw none taking seed, I think the fields around had plenty on offer.
As this is written in December 2017, the lawn is being cut regularly at 12mm. It has had two Biogran treatments. It was covered with literally hundreds of dandelions and other weeds and thoroughly peppered with worm casts. In September I treated it with weed killer, granular Iron and MgO to harden the grass and kill moss. This was been followed by the application of soil conditioner and monthly applications of low N liquid fertiliser with True Foliar Phosphate. There were a number of areas of very coarse grasses and I dealt with these in October (a bit too late in the season). I painted Glyphosate (Round Up) onto the grass and, using a seed slotter, immediately applied seed into the grass even though it was still wet with Glyphosate. I brushed the seed in and left it to germinate. Glyphosate doesn't kill seed so if the weather had been warmer there would have been a good germination. As it is, some of the seed has germinated and it will need some more seeding in spring.
The lawn now looks good, it is virtually worm free but the grass hasn't yet filled in the old cast marks. It will certainly be ready for play in April and we plan to play in the East Anglian GC League in 2018. The total cost of lawn construction including the top soil, removal of hedge and trees, hire of road roller, seed, fertiliser and 3 cu metres of seeding compost was less than £1000.
Speed Croquet Wins
It might be cold and wet but indoor croquet at Soham is the place to be for fine weather all the time. There are monthly weekend tournaments throughout the winter months. Playing for Bygrave & Gt Dunham Peter Whiting and Duncan Hector won the MPC Mallets Shield in October and on 10th December Peter Ross and Duncan Hector won the Soham Cup.
This is Gabrielle Higgins after winning the Mixed Doubles at the British Croquet Open 2013. Her parents, Rev Michael and Margaret Higgins live in North Street, Great Dunham.
In 2015 Gabrielle just missed a World Championship title, losing in the final to Miranda Chapman.
In 2015 Gabrielle had a career change and decided to give up her life as a barrister and became the Diocesan Secretary to the Bishop of Chichester. He said, “It is with great pleasure that I announce the appointment of Gabrielle Higgins as Diocesan Secretary. Gabrielle’s background and experience will position her well for this key leadership role. She combines the well-honed analytical and communications skills of an accomplished barrister with a firm knowledge and understanding of the Church of England.
What is in store?
There is a lot of interest in the village and the club will be hosting weekly Garden Croquet sessions as well as Association Croquet and Golf Croquet. All of this will be clarified in due course.
Coaching in all disciplines will be available and the club will be entering the EACF Golf Croquet League in 2018.