According to British Sports and Sportsmen (London), Sir William Hart Dyke was 'one of the best amateur rackets players of his day' and in 1860, he took the championship at the former headquarters of rackets, the 'Prince's Club', from a professional player in single-handed games.
In 1873, four years before the first Wimbledon tennis match, a famous lawn tennis match was played at Lullingstone Castle, involving Sir William, John Heathcote and Julian Marshall. Sir William and John Heathcote went on to help frame the 'first real code of rules' in 1875 as members of a sub-committee of the Marylebone Cricket Club.
In June 1938, Lullingstone hosted a re-enactment of this famous tennis match, with the same rules, style, dress and equipment as the original - watch a video of the event here. The image (left) shows ‘Sir William’ and ‘John Heathcote’ (actors) playing a singles match near the Gatehouse and above (right) participants dressed up in front of the House.
In attendance were Sir William's son Sir Oliver Hart Dyke, Lullingstone Castle’s owner at that time, and his sister Mary Bell. Ball boys from the 1873 match returned to participate in the 1938 re-enactment, one of whom was aged 81.
Although lawn tennis is no longer played on Lullingstone's lawns, every year we host the annual croquet final in the same spot.