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The Birth of Lawn Tennis

mikejee

Super Moderator
Staff member
There wasn't much substance in the tv program, just a piece by someone who i gather was a professional tennis player asked to play on the lawn of the house to original rules, and supposedly original dress, except I did not know that women in those days (his opponent was a member of Birmingham University tennis club) wore hotpants !
 

Robert Holland

master brummie
Post-2013.06.27_02(W).jpgPost-2013.06-(W).jpg
News of our discovery of the ledger stone to Harry Gem's grave in Warstone Lane Cemetery was written up in last week's Birmingham Post (27.06.13), including editorial comment.
 

Robert Holland

master brummie
We're expecting to have soon an estimate for the renovation and rebuilding of the grave which will include replacement of the body stone on gothic sides.
 

NWood

New Member
This replies belatedly to message 105 (Robert Holland, 17 July 2010). Peter Garrett Arnold Gem (I think that's right) taught me history at Lewes County Grammar School in Sussex from 1954 to 1957. I believe he was a Wykehamist, and went up to Trinity College Oxford in the late 1940s. He had enormous enthusiasm for his subject and to the boys seemed an authoritarian figure, albeit an extremely amusing one. At about 6 ft 4 in (I should think) he was certainly imposing, and an expert at maintaining order and respect by gentle humiliation. "What films or plays have you seen recently?" he asked one class : "'Call me Madam', sir" called out one boy, rather pleased with himself. For the rest of the lesson he was indeed called "Madam". An unruly and lazy boy disgraced himself with some idiotic answer to a question : he was made to spend the rest of the lesson standing on his desk with his tie round his head (like a head band), the knot immediately under his nose. Mr Gem was also a practical joker, and there are amusing stories of his exploits on the Old Lewesian Organisation's website (as well as some pictures). But I believe he was also a serious scholar, probably the leading light of the History Society, organizing interesting trips for the boys---e.g., to Hadrian's Wall. He seems to have been very sociable, e.g., entertaining other staff at home. I believe he might easily have taken holy orders, being among the first (if not the first) master to conduct a service at the new school chapel after I had left. I'm sure the school felt it a great loss when he left some years after that to take up an appointment as headmaster of Oswestry School. After only a few years it appears that he moved on to another post at The Victoria College, Jersey, before he retired. He died in 2005, no doubt worthy of no less celebration generally than he had at Lewes ; at any rate, many of about my generation continue to hold him in very high and affectionate regard.
 

rosie

brummie
The last time I saw the grave it was covered in leaves, I did clear them but haven't been To Warstone Lane Cemetery now for several months. Are the plans progressing?
rosie.
 

Robert Holland

master brummie
This replies belatedly to message 105 (Robert Holland, 17 July 2010). Peter Garrett Arnold Gem (I think that's right) taught me history at Lewes County Grammar School in Sussex from 1954 to 1957. I believe he was a Wykehamist, and went up to Trinity College Oxford in the late 1940s. He had enormous enthusiasm for his subject and to the boys seemed an authoritarian figure, albeit an extremely amusing one. At about 6 ft 4 in (I should think) he was certainly imposing, and an expert at maintaining order and respect by gentle humiliation. "What films or plays have you seen recently?" he asked one class : "'Call me Madam', sir" called out one boy, rather pleased with himself. For the rest of the lesson he was indeed called "Madam". An unruly and lazy boy disgraced himself with some idiotic answer to a question : he was made to spend the rest of the lesson standing on his desk with his tie round his head (like a head band), the knot immediately under his nose. Mr Gem was also a practical joker, and there are amusing stories of his exploits on the Old Lewesian Organisation's website (as well as some pictures). But I believe he was also a serious scholar, probably the leading light of the History Society, organizing interesting trips for the boys---e.g., to Hadrian's Wall. He seems to have been very sociable, e.g., entertaining other staff at home. I believe he might easily have taken holy orders, being among the first (if not the first) master to conduct a service at the new school chapel after I had left. I'm sure the school felt it a great loss when he left some years after that to take up an appointment as headmaster of Oswestry School. After only a few years it appears that he moved on to another post at The Victoria College, Jersey, before he retired. He died in 2005, no doubt worthy of no less celebration generally than he had at Lewes ; at any rate, many of about my generation continue to hold him in very high and affectionate regard.

I tracked Peter down to Jersey a year or so before his death so was able to conduct some correspondence with him. He had been unable to prove a direct link to Major Harry Gem nor, I think, had his nephew who took on the role of the Gem family archivist/researcher.
 

Robert Holland

master brummie
The last time I saw the grave it was covered in leaves, I did clear them but haven't been To Warstone Lane Cemetery now for several months. Are the plans progressing?
rosie.

Thanks for doing a bit of housekeeping Rosie! We have a quotation for rebuilding the grave and now await the approval of the Diocese to proceed. An application has been made for a Bishop's Faculty (July last year) and you remind me that I must chase this up'.
 

rosie

brummie
Hi Robert,
I went to Warstone today and gave the grave a quick sweep while I was clearing the dead grass from Grandmother's grave. It's surprising how fast the debris settles!
rosie.
 

Astonian

gone but not forgotten
Hi leslam
Piera road as an allotmentments down behind the houses is it possible that one time these was the tennis courts
Also you mentioned Hampton road and carpententers road as you walk into amptom road from carpenters road as you say there is new builds and moderen
Homes facing the Victorian houses some of those new moderen was built in the fiftys and yes some wasa couple of the seventys built
As I knew some one around bout number 8 to 12 I cannot disclose there name as they are a big noise in the commutity
And are very much in ourcommutity today could it not be one time that sir harry,s road sports club was the tennis courts
Or may be the big school on the corner of sir Harry's and priory red may be at that period was once part of amptom and carpenters road
Best wishes astonian,,,,
 

mjracquets

New Member
I would be very interested to hear more about The Bath Street Rackets Club if you have the time to contact me ?
I am a Professional Rackets Player and am looking into the early history of the game. many thanks in anticipation.
 

Di.Poppitt

master brummie
Hi mjraquets, the post is how Lawn Tennis evolved from Raquets. Some members of this Forum put on their sleuthing hats and traced how Major "Harry" Gem and Augorio Perera progressed from Raquets to Tennis as we know it today. You can read of the house where they played on its lawn, it is still there, to the death of "Harry" and of his grave awaiting restoration any day soon.

It really is a good read, I'm sure you will enjoy it.
 

Di.Poppitt

master brummie
I have just spent a couple of hours re reading this post, it is so heartening to see so much history uncovered by members of the forum. Thank you.

I wish I had a few minutes with the hackers who took so many of our photo's, this thread in particular as Leslam spent a lot of time finding information and posting it here.

I hope that mjraquet's question has brought it to the notice of members who have never read it.
 

leslam

Brummie by marriage
Yes, I am still on here - though not as much as previously. I do have the original images/information somewhere, but it may take me a few days to replace them as I have quite a few appointments/meetings this week
 

rosie

brummie
I was in Warstone Lane Cemetery today and noticed Harry Gem's grave is sadly neglected and overgrown. I thought there were plans for restoration, are they still waiting for permission from the Bishop?
rosie.
 

charliewag

knowlegable brummie
I don't know if a picture of the blue plaque has been posted, if not Charlie.
 

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Di.Poppitt

master brummie
I don't know if a picture of the blue plaque has been posted, if not Charlie.
Thanks for posting the photo Charlie, I always smile when I see a reply on this post.
Disappointing that Harry's grave is still neglected Rosie. I know the Bishop takes a while but it seems that he has overlooked this one. What a pity.
 
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