The term 'Ashes' was first used after England lost to Australia - for the first time on home soil - at The Oval on 29th August 1882.
A day later, the Sporting Times carried a mock obituary of English cricket which concluded that: "The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia". The concept caught the imagination of the sporting public.
A few weeks later, an English team, captained by the Hon Ivo Bligh [later Lord Darnley], set off to tour Australia, with Bligh vowing to return with "the ashes"; his Australian counterpart, WL Murdoch, similarly vowed to defend them.
As well as playing three scheduled matches against the Australian national side, Bligh and the amateur players in his team participated in many social matches. It was after one such match, at the Rupertswood Estate outside Melbourne on Christmas Eve 1882, that Bligh was given the small terracotta urn as a symbol of the ashes that he had travelled to Australia to regain.
On the same occasion, he met his future wife - Florence Morphy - who was the companion to Lady Janet Clarke, mistress of Rupertswood, and governess to the Clark children.
In February 1884, Bligh married Florence. Shortly afterwards, they returned to England, taking the urn - which Bligh always regarded as a personal gift - with them. It stayed on the mantelpiece at the Bligh family home - Cobham Hall, near Rochester in Kent - until Bligh died, 43 years later.At his request, Florence bequeathed the urn to MCC.