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The history of the Club is entwined with the old Kentish village of Newnham and if you visit the local church you will observe a Plaque on the left hand side of the main entrance door. I expect you may be wondering why a London based cycling club has connections with the Newnham church.

To answer that we must go back to the year 1582. That was the year when a French Huguenot physician and cleric, William Delaune, fled with his family to England. In 1625 one of his two sons, Gideon, who had accumulated great wealth as apothecary to Queen Anne, bought Sharsted Court for his son Abraham.

Sharsted Court dates from the early 14th Century and remained in the De Laune family for more than 300 years. It started as a medieval manor house and was transformed into a Queen Anne mansion by Colonel William Delaune in 1711. The house was once described as "ancient, romantic, rambling.... set among furlongs of topiary and acres of beech wood on the Down land plateau some seven miles southwards of Faversham and Sittingbourne." It was also pointed out that it was an inconvenient place to live; having many rooms, twisting passages and no less than seventeen staircases. One bedroom is said to be haunted and there are stories of terrifying shrieks, guttering candles and a hideous figure. One footman who went to investigate the commotion returned in coherent and died shortly after.

The main feature of Sharsted Court was not it fact the ghost, but the topiary garden - an extraordinary display of geometrically shaped yew trees. The garden was developed, during the second half of the nineteenth century, by the man who was to weave together the strands of history which brought the De Laune Cycling Club into being: Mr. Chapman Delaune Faunce-De Laune. He inherited Sharsted from his father, Captain Edmund Faunce whose family ancestors came over with William the Conqueror. The Faunces and the Delaunes were linked through marriage - and Mr. Chapman Delaune Faunce strengthened that link by adding "De Laune" (spelt as two words) to his surname.

Mr. De Laune was a man of some substance - a High Sheriff of Kent, a magistrate and a considerable landowner. Much of his property was in South London (De Laune Street and Faunce Street are still there) so it was only natural that the parish priest of St. Mary's, Newington, should turn to him for help when he wanted to set up a social club for young men. Mr. De Laune did more than just help - he gave No.22 New Street, Kennington, for the young men's exclusive use. He also paid for the building of a gymnasium, dressing room and other improvements. Thus the De Laune Institute was started.

He himself became the President of the Institute and actively encouraged the wide-ranging sporting interests of Victorian England. These included cricket, billiards, boxing, football, gymnastics, dramatics, athletics, debating, singing and dancing. In the summer of 1888 a few of the members organised a number of cycle rides. Such was their enjoyment that they used the winter to canvas further support and in the spring of 1889 the De Laune Institute Cycling Club was founded. The forerunner of the De Laune Cycling Club; which these days are based in Peck ham, south London. Our connections with the family lasted for many years. Mr. Alured Faunce De Laune was President from 1909 to 1949; his wife Margaret then held the Presidency from 1949 until 1956.

During the Great War of 1914-18 Mrs Margaret Faunce De Laune sent many personal gifts to our members serving in the Forces. After the war, at a reunion dinner and concert, the Club presented her with a gold badge of honour as a "thank you". At the same time the question of how best to remember those who were killed in action was resolved when a member suggested a memorial plaque. Another member carved the five names into a stone tablet; this is positioned on the outside wall of the church. Captain De Laune duly unveiled the plaque on Easter Day 1920. The nine members who were killed in the Second World War were later added.

Although there are no club records of services having been held between 1921 and 1928, we feel certain there must have been since the horrors of the war would have been very prominent in people's minds. We are, however, certain that from 1929 to the present time our club has made an annual pilgrimage to Newnham to honour the memory of those fourteen young men.

In the Nineteen-Fifties Sharsted Court passed from the hands of the De Laune family. The Institute where the club started, No.22 New Street, Newington has long since been demolished. But, that little spark that was ignited there one hundred and twelve years ago continues to burn bright.

For a deeper understanding and an insight into the De Laune CC why not read “A Century Awheel” – the first 0ne hundred years of the club.

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