Club Info

JP35 19320301 1932 Cambridge Univ Fives Team, Jock Burnet second from right

The Jesters Club was founded in England in 1929 by a St Paul’s schoolboy, Jock Burnet, planning with a group of friends how they were going to continue to play the sports they loved at university and beyond. Today, nearly 100 years on, the Club plays and supports court sports involving balls and walls – squash, real tennis, rackets, rugby fives and eton fives. Padel tennis has recently been added to the list..

The Jesters is now a worldwide organisation of over 3,000 members, with branches in the USA, S.Africa, Canada and Australia. Members are elected locally by the committees of each branch and candidates are selected on the basis of playing ability, sportsmanship and contribution to their respective game.

The Club prides itself on its amateur approach to sport, the rules stating that “the purpose of the Club shall be to play in a spirit not unworthy of the name of the Club”. The intention remains to get away from the overly serious nature of competitive games where the result may be thought more important than the enjoyment of the players.

The Club is unashamedly eccentric and anachronistic in an age of win at all costs, high rolling, money driven cult of sporting personality, believing the pursuit of amateurism is arguably more important today than it ever has been. That is not to say that the Club’s younger Jesters do not strain every performance sinew as is demonstrated by having amongst the membership the 12 times world champion in real tennis, the recent real tennis British Amateur Open singles and doubles winners and runners up, various age category amateur champions and former internationals in squash, national champions in eton fives and rugby fives and several world rackets champions.

The Club ploughs money back into its sports and the wider community in a number of ways including facilitating the playing of the Jesters’ games amongst those who would otherwise not have the opportunity (e.g. state school holiday programmes), financial support for building new and the renovation of existing courts and subsidising younger players at schools and universities to encourage their continued playing of those games.

In addition to the sporting activities of the club, members enjoy a number of social occasions including the annual Jock Burnet Founder’s Dinner and the Strawson-Vaughan Memorial Match where strong Jesters’ teams play against opposition from the Associations that oversee the Jesters’ games. The UK Jesters also tour the overseas Jesters’ countries and regularly host incoming tours from them.

For a small annual fee (currently £20) membership of the club offers a variety of matches against teams of all standards from schools and colleges to international touring sides. It also gives the opportunity to choose fixtures that suit your location and timetable, support of the development of the Jesters’ sports, and FUN.


JP43 19320319 Jock Burnet, 1932Jock Burnet played in the first recorded Jesters match (Rugby fives) in December 1928 against Alleyn Old Boys. On graduating from Cambridge University where he was awarded his Half Blue for Rugby fives in 1932, Jock became a schoolmaster and, when not on a fives court, an editor. War time service on the Air Crew Selection Board helped him build his prodigious knowledge of Britain’s public schools and led to his appointment as editor of the ‘Public Schools Year book’, a post he held for more than 40 years, prior to becoming Bursar and Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge. His reputation led to him being appointed governor of no fewer than five significant public schools. He died in 1989.

For an extended account of Jock Burnet’s life, see