In the late 18th century Lennox Gardens was known as Quail Field and was at the time leased to a market gardener. Late in the 1850’s the Prince’s brothers, George and James, founded the Prince’s Sporting Club, leasing the 14 acres that made up the Quail Field and laying out a cricket ground. By 1872, with Lord Cadogan as Chairman, the club had 700 members and the Marylebone Cricket Club had moved their headquarters to the ground. The MCC moved on to Lord’s a few years later where it remains to this day. The grounds hosted many first-class matches and was used by the Middlesex County Cricket Club for a number of years.
The famous cricketer William Gilbert Grace, commonly considered as one of the sport’s greatest ever players and an important figure in the development of the sport, played here on many occasions and holds the accolade of the highest individual score on the ground.
The club introduced lawn tennis in 1875 and did more to formalise the rules than any other body in these early days of the sport, establishing both the size of the court and the height of the net. The Prince’s and Wimbledon annual championships were on a par in 1881 when overhead service was first used at Prince’s. The club held the same eminent position in racquets and later in squash racquets. In 1885 the extension of Pont Street was authorised and the cricket ground was closed and the racquet courts were pulled down.
Today Quail Field consists of Lennox Gardens and Mews and Clabon Mews. The large redbrick houses were the work of a number of architects but were all constructed of a style which Osbert Lancaster named ‘Pont Street Dutch’.
Part of the original Smith’s Charity Estate, the gardens were named after a trustee of the Charity, the 6th Duke of Richmond and Lennox. The gardens were built on the Prince’s cricket ground after its lease expired in 1885.