As the Ashes series gets under way, it seems a perfect time to look into the archives and find out more about the Australian Ashes team visit to Downside in 1930. 

The idea of the then headmaster, Dom Sigebert Trafford, the team was invited to Downside as a way of acknowledging the monastery’s links with Australia. The first Catholic Archbishops of the country had been Downside monks; Dom Bede Polding (1794-1877) and Dom Bede Vaughan (1834-1883). The evangelisation of the fledgling nation was in part down to the missionary work of these two Benedictine monks.

The team arrived at Downside before the start of the first test at Trent Bridge on a ‘rest stop’ as a way to relax and acclimatize before the series began. It was decided that after some rest, the Australians would play the school in a friendly. The visit certainly attracted a lot of press attention, as highlighted in the large volumes of press cuttings in the archives here.  

The Australian captain, Bill Woodfull, said the team was seeking peace and they certainly found it with police guarding the site to keep onlookers away. The team also spent much time with the monastic community, taking trips to Stonehenge and Cheddar Gorge as well as relaxing in the monastery gardens. 

Whether the visit to Downside had much effect on the outcome of the 1930 Ashes series can’t be known, but the Australians did go on to win the series despite losing the first test in Nottingham days after leaving Downside. 

Downside’s Australian links certainly make watching the Ashes difficult when it comes to deciding which team to support but we wish both teams the best of luck!

To find out more about the Downside archives click here.