Anyone for tennis? Barber Institute exhibition reveals art on court

So where is the true birthplace of lawn tennis – Royal Leamington Spa or Edgbaston in Birmingham? Those with a view on the matter could bat that debate about all day, and it’s something that’s looked at in a wonderful exhibition at the Barber Institute in Birmingham.
It seems that Thomas Gem and his friend Jean Batista Augurio Perera played on Perrera’s lawn in Edgbaston in 1859 – but both moved to Leamington in 1872 where they formed Leamington Lawn Tennis Club with two local doctors.
Gem himself drew a sketch of their first match as a foursome, at the Manor House Hotel, at the first club in the world formed specifically for playing lawn tennis. The exhibition features a photograph of the sketch which was presented to the Manor House in 1957 and sadly subsequently ‘lost’.
As the original club is no longer going, the Edgbaston Archery & Lawn Tennis Society is now the oldest surviving lawn tennis club in the world – but on the strength of this exhibition and accompanying catalogue I can forgive Birmingham its boasting.