What exactly is MCC?
It is a cricket club, a private members’ club; a Private Club with a Public Function as has sometimes been said. But defining the Club in legal terms has often been a tricky issue. Most frequently it has been described as an “unincorporated association”, which probably means little to anyone without the letters LLB, QC after their name. This sketchily-defined status, however, meant that for most of its history the Club was unable to hold assets – including Lord’s itself – in its own name.
Twice before in its history MCC had attempted to place its status on more solid ground by applying to the Sovereign to become a body incorporated by Royal Charter. The first application in 1864, the effort of the Club’s energetic young Secretary Bob Fitzgerald, came at a time of significant Ground development and uncertain income with no county cricket yet played at Lord’s. The second, in 1929, was turned down on the grounds that no charter had ever been granted to a body promoting sports or athletics. Not even the fact that King George V was Patron of the Club could win his assent.
But the third attempt, almost 150 years after the first, was successful. Queen Elizabeth II approved the Club’s application at a meeting of the Privy Council on 12 December 2012. The charter came into effect on 1 July 2013.
MCC devoted much thought to the design of its illuminated charter document, the work of HM Crown Office illuminator Timothy Hoad, which was unveiled by the Princess Royal and now hangs in the Pavilion entrance. It includes many familiar symbols associated with the Club, such as Father Time and the Ashes Urn, but the inclusion of a pineapple may not be so obvious. Pineapples were a speciality of Henderson’s Nursery, a popular market garden which was adjacent to Lord’s until MCC bought the land in 1887. The strip of land was incorporated into Lord’s and became known as the Nursery Ground.