The English captain during his stay in Sydney for the third test was billeted at the home of the Fletcher family in the suburb of Woollahra. On his return to the Fletcher home from the after match celebrations, it was suggested by Annie Fletcher she should make a velvet bag in which Bligh could store the "imaginary" Ashes of English cricket, Bligh agreed with Annie's suggestion. Annie promptly made a beautiful brown velvet bag with the year 1883 embroidered on the front in gold thread, she presented this bag to Bligh, who accepted it with great thanks and appreciation of her efforts.
After his departure from Sydney, Bligh traveled to Melbourne where he met a lady named Florence Morphy, and after showing her the bag which he had been presented with in Sydney, Ms Morphy and several friends decided it was not a grand enough trophy for such a celebrated occasion. After purchasing a silver urn, the ladies then burnt a stump or a bail and deposited the ashes into the urn. No-one is quite sure whether it is the ashes of a stump or bail contained in the urn, the actual secret died with Ms Morphy and Bligh, who were later married on one of Bligh's further trips to Australia.
After adding a further test to the Australian tour in 1883, the triumphant English team returned home to a heroes welcome. The Ashes were presented to the English cricket authorities and then promptly presented to the members at Lord's, who later returned them to the possession of Bligh. Bligh took the Ashes with him when he traveled back to Australia and married Florence Morphy. No more was heard of the Ashes until the death of Bligh in 1927, when they were presented to the Marylebone Cricket Club, who put them on permanent display together with a pottery duplicate in a cabinet at Lord's.
Rumour has it, that at some stage during the time the Ashes were in the possession of Bligh in Australia, a servant spilt the contents of the Ashes urn onto the carpet in the home of Bligh and was unable to re-gather them. It is said the servant replaced these Ashes with those of burnt sticks, however this rumour has never been verified and remains just that, a rumour!
The only time the Ashes have left their display cabinet at Lord's was in 1988, when they were flown to Australia as part of the bicentennial celebrations. So treasured are the Ashes, they were flown by RAAF VIP aircraft and escorted to and from Lord's by a police escort.
Origin of the Ashes - History in the Making
This is the most legendary of all cricket series. Played between Australia and England, this series has even caused bad diplomatic relations between the two countries. When Englandís Barmy Army come up against the Aussieís at the ďGĒ...itís almost war! Learn about the origins of The Ashes with this video produced by the ABC.