Very few sports clubs have the honour of Royal Patronage, as far as is known there are only two bowling clubs, namely the Royal Household Bowling Club and ourselves.

Princess Marie Louise was the youngest child of Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein and his wife Princess Helena, Queen Victoria’s third daughter. Born in 1871, at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor, she was named after the Empress Marie Louise, Napoleon’s second wife. In 1891, she married Prince Aribert of Anhalt. Unfortunately he proved an unwilling husband, and after nine distressing years the childless marriage was annulled by decree of Prince Aribert’s father, exercising his medieval right as a Sovereign Prince. The Princess, a devout churchwoman, believed her marriage vows to be binding and never remarried. Princess Marie Louise died in 1956, aged 85 years.

Princess Marie Louise visited the Chelmsford Borough in 1936 to open a League of Nations Union Conference being held at ‘Brierley Place’, 160 London Road, Chelmsford, the residence of the Mayor, Alderman John Ockelford Thompson – one of Alderman Thompson’s interest was English Bowling Association Bowls.

Alderman John Ockelford Thompson, Chairman of Essex Federal Council League of Nations Union, and editor and part proprietor of the Essex Chronicle Newspaper, was elected to Council in 1907 and served without break until his death. He became a JP in 1916 and was awarded the OBE for services to the community during the 1914-18 war. He served as Mayor in 1916, 1920, 1921, 1928, 1929, 1936 and 1940. He was awarded the CBE in 1938. Alderman Thompson had a two rink bowling green in his large garden and with a group of friends bowled under the team name of 'Brierley Place'. During the Princess's visit she complimented the Mayor on his fine garden and bowling green, Alderman Thompson took the opportunity and asked if the Princess would favour the Bowling Club with her name. This was agreed, the entitlement being confirmed by the Palace in 1937. In 1940 Alderman Thompson's house suffered a direct hit from a German bomb, as a result of which, he and his wife, together with one son - Colonel Thompson and his two little daughters were killed. Through Alderman Thompson’s sons, a piece of land in the orchard of the original house (bordering onto Bradford Street) was offered and purchased by the Members of the Bowling Club. In 1945, the Princess Marie Louise Bowling Club, now boasting a three rink green, was one of the founder members of the Chelmsford and District Bowling Association and is now a patron., 1949, saw the addition of a fourth rink and in 1956, the fifth. Between 1963 and 1995 saw many changes starting with a wooden structure up to todays brick building housing a pavilion, large enough to accommodate indoor short mat bowls, changing rooms, kitchen and bar. 1997 saw the celebration of the Club’s Diamond Jubilee with visits by teams from the Essex County Bowling Association Executive, the Essex County Bowling Association and a Ladies’ Commemorative Gala Day. The Millenium year of 2000 saw the Anniversary of the birth of Princess Marie Louise celebrated, by what proved to be the first of an annual Tripartite Bowling Tournament with two other bowling clubs bearing ladies’ names. The Cambridge based Queen Edith Bowling Club and the Margaret Catchpole Bowling Club at Ipswich. Princess Marie Louise B.C. won the inaugural fixture. In 2002 six rinks were established.

The following was received from Louise Ward, Queensland, Australia.

I write to you from Australia – I believe the Princess Marie louise Bowling Club is on part of the land once owned by my Great Great grandfather John George Bond on which he built a beautiful Victorian Home for his family. JG Bond founded JG Bond Limited which ultimately became know as Debenhams in Chelmsford.

I have a photo of his home taken in a hoar frost and feel sure that the trees in the background of your bowling club home page are featured in the photo I have which would be pre 1900.

(Research has shown that 160 London Road, Brierley Place, was formerly named Lyndhurst).

(Louise) Yes Lyndhurst did become Brierley Place. John George Bond, Known as “JG” to our family, died in December 1924 and Lyndhurst after his death, was lived in by his unmarried daughter Lucy Bond -obviously at some stage it was sold to John Ocklesford Thompson, Editor of the Essex Newspaper and of course it was destroyed in 1940. I asked my Great Aunt about the photo of the house I have and she said it had been destroyed in the 2nd World War or that she believed the upstairs of the house had been destroyed. I believe when JG owned the whole parcel of land, there were large glasshouses (ferneries), vegetable gardens and lovely Gardens.