History of Thorpe Hall

The Thorpe Hall, now our clubhouse, goes back to Elizabethan times and is built on the site of the original farm house. In 1906, with the help Bert Batley, a golf professional, Colonel Burges started to change the farmland into a golf course and in 1907 Thorpe Hall Golf Club was formally opened. A description of our golf course extracted from a report prepared for the Board of Directors in 1907 stated "the turf of the greens is pretty well as good as it can possibly be - close and short and their naturally undulating character affords ideal putting. The course today is maintained to the same high standards.

In 1931 a handbook on Southend-on-Sea records: "At first glance, this seaside course appears easy, as Harry Vardon thought when he started out in a final some years ago. After taking a 7 at the first (a par 4) and a 7 at the second (also a par 4), he changed his mind and wrote an article about the false impression Thorpe Hall gives."

Our Club kept going during the First World war, but was closed during the Second World War with the fairways being dug up to prevent troop carrying aircraft from landing. We even had our own Dad's Army from amongst our members. No doubt they would have collected green fees if the enemy had landed!

Thornton Cup Winners - 1920, 1957, 1965, 1971, 1975, 1978, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1998.

Leslie Wood Cup Winners - 1981

Prominent Players from Thorpe Hall

Sir Michael Bonallack

Sir Michael Francis Bonallack, OBE is an English amateur golfer who was one of the leading administrators in world golf in the late 20th century. He joined Thorpe Hall as a cadet in 1948 and won the Essex Boys Championship in 1950 and 51 and the British Boys Championship in 1952. He went on to win The Amateur Championship and the English Amateur five times each. He was a member of nine Walker Cup teams and played in the Eisenhower Trophy seven times. His best finish at The Open Championship was eleventh in 1959. He was the leading amateur at the Open in 1968 and 1971.

Sir Michael served as Secretary of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews from 1983 to 1999 and was succeeded in this role by Peter Dawson, another former cadet of Thorpe Hall Golf Club.

Sir Michael’s father, Sir Richard Bonallack CBE served as Club President from 1978 – 1996.

Peter Dawson
Peter began his golfing career as a cadet at Thorpe Hall Golf Club and went on to Captain the Cambridge University golf team in 1969 whilst studying for a degree in engineering. Having enjoyed a successful business life he switched careers in 1999 to become Secretary of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, a position he held for 16 years before retiring in 2015.

A S L (Andy ) Robinson
Andy joined as a cadet and won the World One-Armed Championship on twelve occasions. He also won the England and Wales One-Armed Championship three times.

Marjorie Garon (nee Parkinson)
Marjorie won the Essex Ladies’ Championship on eight occasions and was England Ladies Champion in 1935. She represented England from 1927-1937 playing in the Curtis Cup in 1936

Mrs Sally Barber (nee Bonallack)
Sally joined as a cadet and was Essex Ladies Champion on thirteen occasions between 1958 and 1997 and represented England between 1960 and 1972. Sally was a member of the Curtis Cup team in 1962, and Captained the England Home Internationals Team in 1972. Sally won the England Ladies’ Amateur Championship in 1968 and was non-playing Captain of the GB and Ireland Team in 1995 at the Commonwealth Tournament and at the Espirito Santo Trophy in 1996.

Lady Angela Bonallack ( nee Ward)
Angela won the Essex Ladies’ Championship on seven occasions together with the Swedish, German Scandinavian, Portuguese and England Ladies Championships. She represented England from 1956-1966 and played in six Curtis Cup matches.

Elizabeth Boatman (nee Collis)
Elizabeth won the Essex Ladies’ Championship on five occasions and was Captain Essex Ladies in 1979/1980. She represented England between 1983 and 1991 and played in two Curtis Cup Teams. In 1994 she received the Daily Mail Award for Excellence in Sport and was awarded a CBE in 1995 for Services to Sport.

A full account of our History Makers achievements are displayed in our lounge together with photographs.