The Dowlish Wake Croquet Club is based on the Lawrence Kellett Playing Fields on the outskirts of Dowlish Wake. These fields were donated to the village in the 1970s and are available to all for recreational use including football and cricket.
Croquet was introduced to the village by Marianne Merchant as an activity group within the Dowlish Wake Women’s Institute in 2000. Games were played on a fairly rough section of the Playing Fields with borrowed mallets and very simple hoops.
As the sport grew in popularity, non-W.I. members, and some of the men, wanted to join in. At this time we played all year round whenever the weather allowed with just one lawn roughly marked out. During this period attendance grew so we created a second lawn. The creation and care of the lawns was carried out by volunteers, in particular Jim Blowers with help from some of the men in the group. It took many weeks to reclaim a suitable area from these open fields. In October 2002 the W.I. decided to hand the club over to the village.
In January 2003 the Dowlish Wake Croquet Club prepared for its first official season. The first Chairman of the Club was Robert Coates. With little or no reserves of cash, the club started with borrowed and second-hand equipment. Some members had very basic mallets made by a wood carver on the Blackdowns and another of our new members made some extra mallets from donated wood, and hoops were made locally.
Initially there were two lawns, but in 2004 the Club was hosting a W.I. event and it was decided a temporary third lawn would be required. Following the event, the Club decided to keep it and as membership numbers grew it became a great asset.
The pavilion in those days was a very rustic affair, well past its sell-by date. As the Croquet Club was working hard to extend its membership, improve the lawns and to augment its equipment, Dowlish Wake itself was working hard at fundraising sufficient money to replace the old pavilion.
This season saw the Croquet Club ‘al fresco’, without a roof over their head - while the old pavilion was demolished. But thanks to the capacious boot of a Volvo estate doubling as a refreshment bar and several deck chairs we survived the season.
In April 2006 the new pavilion was opened and the Croquet Club became the main user of this enviable village amenity.
In October Rob Coates stood down as Chairman, to be succeeded by Carolyn Farler.
Over the next few years with help from SSDC, Sport England and The Croquet Association we gradually replaced all our old ground maintenance machinery and club mallets. We spent many long hours improving the condition of the grass on our lawns. We provided match-standard equipment for our three lawns. This was the first year we entered a team into the South West Federation League under the captaincy of Kath Senior.
In the second year of the SW Federation GC League Dowlish Wake reached the finals, ultimately being beaten by Palace (Wells) 15-5. A great achievement for such a small club.
We entered a second team in the SW Federation League
Our SE team, under the captaincy of Anthea Carter, were League champions, beating Nailsea in the final. Team members were Anthea Carter, Kath Senior, Anthony Rich, Mollie Blowers, Keith Bryant, Paul Samson, Carolyn Farler.
With support from South Somerset District Council we launched our own web-site.
We entered a third team in the SW Federation of Croquet Clubs High Handicap League. Following an arson attack at the end of this season we suffered the loss of the pavilion on the playing field.
Work to rebuild the pavilion gets underway with temporary facilities being provided to the club.
Members were happy to see the opening of the new pavilion in July with excellent facilities now available and we created an additional half-lawn. Our High Handicap team were finalists this year in the League and were worthy runners-up.
We have three full size croquet courts available to the club. Monday is the club day when people of all skill levels enjoy croquet organised for them in a very relaxed manner. There is an additional day for Full Members on Thursdays which includes league team practice.