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Royal Winchester Golf Club, Hants. (1888 - 1900s)

Original site at Magdalen (Morn) Hill from 1888 to the early 1900s.

The following is from the The Golfing Annual 1888/89:-

 “Winchester Golf Club – Instituted September 18th 1888; Entrance Fee, for 100 original members - one guinea; next twenty-five – one guinea and a half; others, two guineas; Annual Subscription, one guinea; Captain – Earl of Northesk; Committee – L L Nicol, Capt. Crawford, R.N., W Wynyard, J A Fort, F H Puntin, A Stratton; Hon. Secretary – William D Gibb, 31 High Street, Winchester; Hon. Treasurer – J B Dance, Earlsgate House, Winchester.

Club prizes – The First President’s (R Moss Esq., M.P) Shield; the First Captain’s (Earl of Northesk) Challenge Cup; Challenge Club, gift of W Scotney, Esq., Mayor of Winchester, to be played for by monthly handicap.

Home Green – Links on Mornhill.

The course is situated on the top of Mornhill, the site of the ancient St Giles’ Fair, to the east of the city, between the Alresford and Petersfield roads. It is about three miles in length, and the greens are fast getting into excellent order. The absence of hazards in the shape of furze, sand bunkers, or water is compensated for by a deep ravine, in which beginners frequently come to grief, and by the circumstance that in the course players have to cross the highway twice, as well as by the frequent mounds (ancient barrows), and other irregularities of the ground.” 


Royal Winchester Golf Club, Hants. Article from Illustrated Sporting Dramatic News 1892.

From The Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News Friday March 14th 1892. Image © Illustrated London News Group. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.


The pictures on the above article show - Top left to right; John Pickstock, Hon. Treasurer; Surgeon-Captain G Harley-Thomas; W W Gibb, Hon. Secretary; L L Garbutt; Major Graham. The 18th Hole showing the Victoria Hospital in the distance.

Bottom picture – Rev. G Richardson, 2nd Master Winchester College; Rev. J T Bramston; A J Toye, late Captain; Shawyer, Hutkeeper; E J Turner; J H Taylor, Professional; E H Buckland, Amateur Record Holder.

The text reads; Winchester Golf Club – The above Golf Club, considering it only dates back between three and four years, has made rapid strides since its inauguration, September 18th 1889, when an influential meeting was held at the George Hotel, Winchester, for that purpose, presided over by the Mayor of Winchester. Richard Moss, then M.P for the City, was elected president; F Kirby and James Stratton, vice-presidents; the following gentlemen formed the committee – Earl of  Northesk, captain, Rev. J Gordon Cundy, Captain Crawford, W Wynyard, J A Ford, F H Punton, A Stratton , J B Dance, hon. treasurer, W W Gibb, hon. secretary. Almost immediately they enrolled more than100 members, and the splendid stretch of down on Mornhill was secured as links. The death of their captain, the late Earl of Northesk, was a great blow to the executive, as he had displayed wonderful zeal and ability during his term of office (two years). Lord Northesk framed the rules with his own hand, and was more than delighted when he saw the Winchester Golf Club firmly established. A J Toye and Captain J Brook-Fairburn have since filled the captaincy, and the office is now held by Captain L Russell, of Ewhurst Park, Basingstoke. The following members compose the present committee; Colonel W S Hunt, S Aylward, Earl of Nothesk, A J Toye, H A C Brooking, T E Newton and Colonel Bunbury. John Pickstock is hon. treasurer, William W Gibbs, hon. secretary, and the Rev. J Trant Bramston, the assistant hon. secretary. The number of permanent members exceeds 120, but there is a considerable number of extraordinary members from the Garrison and the Colleges in the city and neighbourhood. The course is one of 18-holes along the top of Morn of Magdalen Hill, to the east of the city, and though like all inland links, it must be deficient in the special joy of sand bunkers, yet it affords a fair amount of hazards and difficulties, good putting greens, grand fresh air, with delightful views around the surrounding country. The most notable holes are the sixth, for which the drive must cross a corner of a ploughed field as well as a deep road, the seventh a short iron shot over the same road and a piece of broken ground, and the ninth over a ravine about sixty feet deep and a hundred yards wide. At the holes were nature has neglected to place obstacles, art has stepped in with good practical bunkers of varied turf and ditches, and seven spacious greens have been artificially made to replace the original ones which were found to be to sloping. The chief club prizes are the Moss Challenge Shield and Badge, the Northesk Challenge Bowl and Badge, the St Andrew’s Challenge Cup and the Fairburn Cup and Badge. There is also a monthly handicap meeting, at which the winner obtains a silver medal. The lowest amateur record for the green is 80, by E H Buckland, and the lowest record by Andrew Kirkaldy, and J H Taylor, the present professional, both of whom have done the round in 69. The following is Taylor’s score; Out – 5,4,4,4,5,5,3,4,4 = 38; In – 3,3,4,4,3,3,3,4,4 = 31; Total 69. The Winchester Club is not behind the times as regards hospitality, and though their “Hut” is not a pretending structure, it is well fitted with every convenience, and for the present answers the requirements of golfers. Intending visitors will find their wants well looked after by Strawyer, the excellent keeper of the hut. While the hon. secs. would be pleased to render every facility to those who wish to play over the links.” 


Royal Winchester Golf Club, Hants. Result of the November 1893 Monthly Medal.

From the Illustrated Spoting and Dramatic News Saturday 18th November 1893. Image © Illustrated London News Group.


In 1900 the secretary at Royal Winchester was Major General Tweenlow, 10 Hyde Street, Winchester. Course records; amateur, E H Buckland 73, professional, J H Taylor 68.

John Henry Taylor born in 1871 at Northam, North Devon was one of the great triumvarite of James Braid and Harry Vardon. During the 1890s Taylor was working in Winchester, he was obviously a great golfer and also first class teacher but unlike many of his fellow professionals of the time he was never a club-maker. Whilst he was in Winchester all golf club repairs were carried out by a sports shop close to the college. Obviously he was missing out on a lucrative sideline so he decided to approach his former assistant from the Westward Ho! Golf Club who was a well respected club-maker to join him at Winchester. He accepted the offer and they opened a shop under the name of Cann and Taylor. However the joint name did cause some confusion with one of their customers, particularly with Winchester being an ecclesiastical centre. A letter was received at the Cathedral addressed to Canon Taylor with a request to purchase a set of golf clubs. In the letter the customer expressed some surprise that the Reverend gentleman found time to make golf clubs as well as carrying out his normal day to day duties.

Taylor left Winchester in 1896.

Cann took over the professional duties and continued at Winchester until 1899 when he moved to Pittsburgh USA where he carried on his work as a club-maker.

In 1957 John Henry Taylor was elected President of Westward Ho!, the club where he started as a caddie all those years ago. He died on February 10th 1963, at the village of his birth.


Royal Winchester Golf Club. Location of the earlier course.

Course location on Magdalen Hill in the 1890s.

Grid reference SU50515,29215, co-ordinates 450515,129215.