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Club history

The Friary Bowling Club derives its name from a medieval Friary of St Augustine which once stood nearby. The land on which the green now sits used to be the Friary's gardens and orchards, an area which became known as Friary Fields once the religious house had been disbanded.

In 1820 a group who met at the adjacent Crown Inn on Kingsgate Street decided to the form the club. For a number of decades the ground continued to be accessible from the inn.

Early members of the club include William Harding, Thomas Mitchener (a smith from Canon Street), Charles Benny (Mayor of Winchester in 1833 and 1834) and Mr Corfe (the owner of a shop in Little St Swithun). In December 1899 the post of President was instituted. Councillor Joseph Marks, Mayor of Winchester and cutler and gunsmith by trade, was elected the first President.

There were a number of attempts by the club to buy their land, spanning a few decades. In 1922 this backfired, with the proposal being turned down and prompting the Bishop of Winchester to raise the rent on their land. In 1927 a group of members, including seasoned bowler W. J. McQuillan who was dubbed 'Father of the Green', finally succeeded in purchasing the green for the club.


The Green

The Friary Bowling Club green, the oldest in Winchester, has been in use since 1820. It is located on St Michael’s Road, on the south of the city centre, in sight of Winchester Cathedral.

Early club rulebooks indicate that the game used to be played by bowling from the corners of the green. In April 1905 the modern system of parallel rinks was introduced for the first time.

The green is roughly a 35 metre square. It is noted for its unusual characteristic of not having right-angle corners, providing a challenge to bowlers when lining the rinks up correctly.