top of page

Arthur Dunn













How many people know that one of first true stars of our national football team is buried in Little Shelford?

Arthur Dunn captained England, gaining four caps and scoring two goals. He also played in two FA Cup finals, becoming a byword for sportsmanship and was widely regarded as perhaps the best player of his generation.


Arthur Tempest Blakiston Dunn was born in Whitby on 12th August 1860, while his parents were staying there on annual holiday. He was one of five children – the other four were all girls.


His father John  was a mathematics professor and Master of Arts tutor at Cambridge University, while his mother Mary Elizabeth (nee Bowen) came from Staffordshire and was a clergyman's daughter. They lived in Little Shelford.


The 1891 census shows Arthur Dunn living at Kirby Lodge in the High Street with his parents. In 1893, he is believed to have tutored Lawrence Johnston who later designed the famous gardens at Hidcot.


Interested in all forms of sport, he was also a gifted cricketer, a neat and determined left-handed bat and a fast round-arm bowler, who many thought could have played at first-class level had he chosen to pursue the summer game. 


The young Arthur was sent off to Eton and from there obtained a place at Cambridge University. Having been awarded two 'Blues', the highest honour that may be bestowed on a Cambridge sportsman and a much-coveted prize, he first joined the Old Etonians football team. Fast, skilful and a reputedly fierce tackler, Arthur was soon to play in two FA Cup Finals for the Old Etonians. Firstly, in March 1882, they defeated professional club Blackburn Rovers 1-0 before around 6,500 spectators at Kennington Oval. Dunn was said to have "practically won the tie with a lovely centre all along the ground" (these days known as a 'through ball') from which his team-mate WJ Anderson coolly slotted home the winner. A year later though they lost 2-1 at the same venue to tough working-class side Blackburn Olympic in a game dubbed "the Aristocrats versus the Artisans".


A programme (pictured left) from the 1882 FA Cup final came up for auction in May 2013. Here is an article from the Guardian about both the programme and the game itself.


Unfortunately Dunn went off with a knee injury early in the second half, an incident that many believed cost his side the cup. With no substitutes allowed in those days the Old Etonians had to play on with 10 men before falling to a goal in extra time.

Four weeks prior to this last FA Cup disappointment, Arthur Dunn had been selected for England for the first time, scoring twice in a 7-0 thrashing of Ireland at Liverpool Cricket Ground.

His second cap then came in February 1884 when England again outclassed the Irish with an 8-1 victory over in Belfast in the first ever Home International tournament.


After leaving university that summer, he then spent a short time tutoring in Ireland before taking up a position as a master at Elstree School where he would remain for seven years.

This put his England career on hold, although he was still able to turn out for the Corinthians whilst he also represented Cambridgeshire and Norfolk and kept in touch with his Old Etonian pals. In 1892, he then decided to leave Elstree and ambitiously start his own boarding school with a view to preparing boys for Harrow's great rival, Eton. Ludgrove School has included Prince William, Prince Harry and TV presenter Bear Grylls amongst its pupils.

That March he was recalled to the England team as captain for the Home International match against Wales in Wrexham. Now playing at right-back he helped keep a clean sheet in a 2-0 victory. On 2 April he was then selected once more as England beat Scotland 4-1 at Ibrox Park, Glasgow.

The arch-amateur again captained the side, and as all his team-mates were professionals, a newspaper report commented "it was thought his position would be irksome, but these particular professionals turned out to be men of gentlemanly demeanour, and they found their captain a very sociable companion." In a fitting end to his international career, England finished as Home International champions.


He was to keep on turning out for the Corinthians until 1900, eventually racking up a total of 31 appearances along with 12 goals.

On a more personal note Arthur was married in 1892 to Helen Matilda Malcolmson, the daughter of the Rev Lancelot Malcolmson who ran Elstree School, and effectively his old boss.


Arthur Dunn died in 1902. His obituary in The Times concluded by saying: "It would be difficult to find another man of his age and position whose premature loss has been more widely and genuinely mourned then that of Arthur Dunn." 


He is buried at All Saints Church in Little Shelford. His grave is currently marked with a simple stone cross. Arthur's parents lived at both Kirby Lodge and Low  Brooms in Little Shelford High Street. 




Arthur Dunn's grave at All  Saint's Church, Little Shelford



To celebrate his memory his many friends in the sporting world held a meeting three weeks later to organise an annual knock-out competition between the 'old boys' football teams of invited schools.

So it was that the strictly amateur Arthur Dunn Cup was inaugurated.


Click here to read the Arthur Dunn obituary in The Times


Click here to see Arthur Dunn's England playing and scoring record

Click here to see an Arthur Dunn picture gallery


Click here to read about the sale of a programme from the 1882 FA Cup Final featuring Arthur Dunn


You can read about Arthur's life in the book, The Centenary History of the Arthur Dunn Cup: Celebrating One Hundred Years of the Old Boys Football Competition 1903-2003. Excerpts are attached below.

In the 1861 Census, Arthur is shown living with his parents and 2 siblings at 3 Pembroke Street, Cambridge.


In the 1881 Census, 19 year-old Arthur is shown living at Trinity College, Cambridge.


In the 1891 Census, Arthur, 29, is living or staying with his parents at their school at Kirby Lodge, High Street, Little Shelford. His profession is shown as a tutor.


In the 1901 Census, Arthur, his wife and children, are living at Ludgrove Prep School, New Barnet where he was the founding headmaster. In the same Census, Arthur's widowed mother, Mary, is now living at Low Brooms with her sister.

bottom of page