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What do the words say on The Ashes urn? History of the trophy explained

Your complete guide to the most sought-after, pocket-sized award in cricket as The Ashes start in Australia.

The Ashes urn
Published: Tuesday, 7th December 2021 at 3:52 pm

The Ashes looks set to be another hotly-contested series in 2021/22 with England jetting Down Under to face Australia.


This is one of the world's most esteemed rivalries in sport with bragging rights, pride and glory all ramped up to the maximum and put on the line across five Test matches every two years.

Six weeks of action, plus countless hours of preparation, will all boil down to one moment for one team: lifting the Ashes urn.

To the casual viewer, hoisting high a 10.5cm piece of wood may feel like an anti-climax given the sacrifices made to get to that stage.

We're trained to enjoy the glittering glory of the Champions League trophy, the golden wonder of the FIFA World Cup, and US sport fans see a 1.63m, 69kg behemoth handed to the winner of the world-famous Indy 500 race, so why the hype over one pocket-sized urn? has rounded up everything you need to know about The Ashes urn as the big series kicks off.

What is the history of The Ashes urn?

In August 1882, Australia defeated England in a cricket match played at The Oval in London.

A mock obituary was printed in The Sporting Times stating: 'In affectionate remembrance of English cricket which died at The Oval on 29th August 1882, R.I.P. – N.B. The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.'

English captain Ivo Bligh pledged to 'bring back the Ashes of English cricket' when his side travelled to Australia for a three-match series across 1882 and 1883. England claimed the series 2-1.

The urn was reportedly created during that particular series using a vessel that some believe may have originally been used as a perfume bottle. It is believed to contain the burnt ashes of a cricket bail used during the series.

The original urn is permanently kept at Lord's in London, while the two teams battle it out for a replica version of the hallowed item.

What do the words say on The Ashes urn?

The Ashes urn

The Ashes urn is one of the most iconic trophies in sport

There were two labels pasted onto the original Ashes urn. The top one simply read 'The Ashes' in scrawled handwriting.

The second is a larger chunk of text, but what does it say?

It is an excerpt from the Melbourne Punch magazine from 1st February 1883.

It reads: "When Ivo goes back with the urn, the urn; Studds, Steel, Read and Tylecote return, return; The welkin will ring loud; The great crowd will feel proud; Seeing Barlow and Bates with the urn, the urn; And the rest coming home with the urn."

The names mentioned are of the England team who triumphed in 1883. These same words remain attached to the replica version of the urn that the current England and Australia teams will duel over 138 years later.


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