Sport and Parliament


A Sporting Life...

This exhibition looks at aspects of the relationship between the Houses of Parliament and sport, and how this is reflected within the records held in the Parliamentary Archives

The records held in the Parliamentary Archives paint a  picture of how sport has become a regular feature in Parliamentary life. The participation of the members and staff of both Houses, both inside and outside of the organisation, demonstrate how the perception of sport has changed. In the past  certain sports, particularly team games such as football, were frowned upon.

However,  documents from the early 20th century right up until present day show how this view changed as the advantages of sporting activities became clearer. During the First World War football was used as a tool to encourage men to sign up, playing on its principles of comradeship and sportsmanship. A letter from Walter Hume Long, 1st Viscount Long of Wraxall, shows this shift in opinion as he writes in September 1914 of his approval of football being used as a means of stimulating recruitment (Parliamentary Archives BLU/1/13/LONGW.8).

Members and staff of both Houses were soon not just taking an interest in sport, but also actively participating and holding positions of influence. The collections held within the Archives show a number of different sports being represented including football, cricket, golf, swimming, rowing, yachting, and tennis.


Lawn Tennis, Panshanger 1914. Bonar Law presenting a prize to Sir Philip Sassoon. Parliamentary Archives  BL/124/56

Personal papers reveal that Sir Henry Badeley, Clerk of the Parliaments and the politician Bonar Law were keen golfers and an  example of Parliamentary participation in sport is  the House of Commons Yacht Club, which was founded in 1950 by Sir Reginald Bennett MP and whose Admiral, Sir Alfred Bossom MP, created a cup called "The Alfred Bossom Challenge Cup" as seen below.

Parliamentary Golf, Sandwich

Parliamentary Golf, Sandwich 1918. Parliamentary Archives BL/124/38

Challenge Cup

Papers of the House of Commons Yacht Club 1953 - 2000. Parliamentary Archives BEN

Also within the Archives are some of the records of the Sports and Social Club (SAS) which include the minutes and rules of various sub-committees and clubs, including the Houses of Parliament Football Club and scorebooks from the Lords and Commons Cricket side (CRI) dated 1956-1982.

Cricket Score Sheet

Lords and Commons cricket score sheet, 1956. Parliamentary Archives  CRI.

Sir Patrick Hannon MP was President of Aston Villa Football Club when they won the F.A. Cup in 1957 and Baron Shackleton was an active supporter of the annual Lords vs Commons Charity Swim in the 1980s.

Aston Villa FC

Aston Villa Football Club 1940-1960. Parliamentary Archives HNN/81/3

HL v HC Charity Swim

Lords v. Commons Charity Swimming Gala 1982. Parliamentary Archives S/434

Members of both Houses have continued to make an active and influential contribution to sport, through individual participation and through involvement in schemes, awards, and events. Staff of both Houses continue to compete in different activities, including an annual Commons v Lords Tug of War, which is held  in Victoria Tower Gardens, next to the Palace of Westminster.

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