Previous Next

The Ashes Urn

Object Number:
pottery, ash
height: 10.5 cm
Object name
Object category


Dark red glazed pottery urn, probably containing the ashes of a bail, sealed by a cork. Two handled urn that tapers to a molded stem base. Attached is a hand-written label: 'The Ashes' and below it a poem cut from 'Melbourne Punch' dated February 1, 1883: 'When Ivo goes back with the urn, the urn; Studds, Steel Read and Tylecote return, return; The welkin will ring loud, The great crowd will feel proud, Seeing Barlow and Bates with the urn, the urn; And the rest coming home with the urn.' The wooden base was added later (1940's?) and was turned by Lord's Groundsman 'Bosser' Martin

Display caption

The Ashes Urn Terracotta pottery on an ash base The Ashes, England Team to Australia, 1882-1883. Presented to the Hon. Ivo Bligh (afterwards Lord Darnley) as a personal gift by some ladies of Melbourne during Bligh's England team's tour of Australia in 1882-1883. The precise origin and purpose of the urn is uncertain. It was an impromptu gift to the Hon. Ivo Bligh but is almost certain to have had a previous use before this presentation. It may have been a trinket picked up on a European tour by the Clarke family, possibly a perfume bottle At the Kennington Oval in August 1882 Australia defeated England for the first time on English soil. It was a match England should have won; the defeat shocked an English public accustomed to superiority on the cricket field. Four days later a mock obituary appeared in the Sporting Times, announcing the death of English cricket, that the body would be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia. The Hon. Ivo Bligh, about to captain an English team to tour Australia, declared he would win back the ashes. It was a joke, as was the presentation of the urn, but the legend of the Ashes had begun. MCC Collection – donated by the Dowager Countess of Darnley, 1928 M.1928.2.1
Credit line:
Extracts from MCC minute books, page 2905. Reference code: MCC/SEC/1/6
Ivo Bligh (owner) 1882 - 1927
Related objects:
M.28.2.3 : Embroidery Design for Ashes Bag
M.28.2.2 : The Ashes Urn Bag
M.2013.5 : Replica Ashes Urn
M.28.2.4 : Letter, Ivo Bligh to Mrs Fletcher
MCC/AAL/2/TEMP140 : Curator's correspondence relating to the Ashes Urn
LN.2013.12 : The Ashes, Women's Test Series
MCC/AAL/2/TEMP800 : Ian Metherall Correspondence