Last time we learnt about Charles Alexander Hooper, born in Eastington in 1869 who went on to become a leading character the world of rugby in the 1890s. His name recently came to light again via an amazing chance discovery….
The Middlesex team of 1895-96, with Hooper as captain in the middle. The photograph formed part of a series called ‘Famous Footballers’, issued by a national newspaper in 1895
A cigarette card of Charles Hooper from 1902, wearing a Middlesex shirt.
Unfortunately, his initial was misspelt as an E!
Charles Alexander lived at Eastington Lodge with his parents, Charles and Julia Hooper, who ran the village cloth mills. In 1880 he attended Clifton College, prior to going to Cambridge University and finding fame on the rugby field. He later went on to work as a solicitor and, in 1914, emigrated to Hong Kong , serving in the Hong Kong Special Police Force during the First World War. He died in London in 1950, aged 81.Now, why after all these years, has his name suddenly cropped up? It was one of those strange coincidences that I mentioned earlier and actually came to light as a result of a TV programme on one of Sky’s more obscure channels. The programme, called Irish Pickers, essentially involves two men driving round Ireland buying and selling antiques and collectibles. On this particular occasion, they were at a fair in Bantry, a small town in the south of the country, where they came across a wooden box with a brass plaque engraved “C A Hooper”.
At this point, my ears pricked up – Hooper is not a common name and I wondered if there might be a connection with ‘our’ family. The programme’s researcher discovered that boys at Clifton College were issued with such boxes to hold their personal and valuable belongings – there was the link! It appears that the box was Charles Alexander’s from his days at Clifton.
So, a purchase from a seaside flea market in Ireland triggered memories of a long-forgotten Eastingtonian rugby player who was good enough to represent his country.
Let’s face it, you’ve got to be good to get your own cigarette card – perhaps it’s time to check granddad’s cigarette card collection that’s been languishing in the attic and see if you’ve got one of CAH!