England: the home of sport

by Katie Rowe

Category: History & heritage
June 13 2014

We can’t deny that the World Cup is a sight to behold and while we'll be watching every match with bated breath, we'd like to remind you all of a certain something. Although the Brazilian players are world-famous for their footy skills, if it wasn't for England, football as we know it wouldn't exist. And while we're on the subject, nor would tennis, cricket or rugby...

Home to the world’s oldest football club: Sheffield FC  

Though it’s thought similar games were played in ancient China, Greece and Rome, football – as we know it – is claimed to have been created in Sheffield back in 1857. According to Sheffield FC, the rules of the game were first drawn up by pioneers Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, who also founded the world’s first football club in 1857. According to the organisation, the longest derby on the planet was also played in Sheffield back in 1860, between rival teams Sheffield FC and Hallam FC. The match was also played out on the oldest football ground in the world, the Hallam Pitch at Sandygate Lane, Sheffield.

The home of tennis: London

Once the home of kings and queens, Hampton Court Palace in Richmond-upon-Thames is also home to a tennis court dating back to 1625. It was built for Charles I, though the game’s been played here since at least 1529. Discover more of the sport's history when visiting the viewing gallery, or, learn about its evolution into a modern sport whilst admiring the trophies at Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum.

The birthplace of rugby: Rugby

Back in 1823, during what must have been a particularly boring football game at Rugby School, pupil William Webb Ellis committed a handball that changed the world forever. By picking up the ball and running, he gave birth to modern rugby. So legendary were his exploits that the sport is known by the Warwickshire town's name. The school still proudly maintains the world's first rugby pitch, The Close.

The birthplace of cricket: Hampshire

The village of Hambledon, just outside of Winchester, is the birthplace of cricket. At Broad-Halfpenny Down a cricket club was formed in the 1760s and this is where the rules of the game as it is known throughout the world today were first established. The Bat and Ball pub has stood opposite the cricket ground since the club was formed and has a wealth of memorabilia.

Discover world-class sporting events taking place in England throughout the year.

Katie Rowe

Instagram updates


Customer survey …

VisitEngland would like to invite you to take part in a short survey about our website.

It should take no more than a couple of minutes.

Please click here to be taken to the survey


To add items to favourites …

… you need to be logged in.

If you already have an account, log in.

Or register a

Access your account

Enter your e-mail address or username.
Enter the password that accompanies your e-mail.
Forgot your password? Recover your account
Don't have an account? Register an account