04 April 2023

Conservation Works At The Real Tennis Court

We are currently undertaking decorative and conservation works to the Real Tennis Court to ensure that the building can be enjoyed by many people for many years to come.

Scaffolding will be in place whilst this work is in progress.

History of the Hatfield Park Real Tennis Court at a glance –

  • Court built at Hatfield House in 1842 by the second Marquess of Salisbury
  • Used exclusively by the family for over 100 years, until the outbreak of the War in 1939
  • Re-opened in 1955 by local players who formed a private club
  • Host to local leagues and major tournaments
  • Today it is a thriving club and used by both amateur and notable professionals

About the sport of Real Tennis –

One of several games sometimes referred to as the ‘sport of kings’, Real Tennis or Royal Tennis, is the original racquet sport from which the modern game of tennis (lawn tennis) was born.

The sport descends from, and is almost identical to the medieval tennis game ‘jeu de paume’ (game of the palm), and whilst it has been played since the middle ages it has become completely obscured by its own descendant, lawn tennis.

Real Tennis is played on an indoor court with four irregularly sized walls, using pear-shaped racquets to hit cloth balls that are harder than regular tennis balls.

The construction of a court is complex and difficult, and the declining number of players discourages the building of new courts.

Today there are only 27 Real Tennis Courts remaining in the UK, and the Hatfield Park Court remains an example of one that is in fantastic condition. Situated within the stunningly beautiful grounds of Hatfield House, the Court has a ‘bouncing’ flagstone floor to enhance the player’s game.

References: The Sporting Blog, Encyclopaedia Brittanica

Conservation Works At The Real Tennis Court - Hatfield Park