"In affectionate remembrance of English cricket which died at The Oval, 29th August, 1882. Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances, RIP. NB The body will be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia." said a mock obituary in The Sporting Times, written by Reginald Shirley Brooks - a young London-based journalist - post England's first ever defeat to Australia on home soil.
Vowing to bring "The Ashes" of English Cricket back, Honourable Ivo Bligh (Lord Darnley) then led England on a tour to Australia, the arrangements for which had been made before the one-off test at The Oval. Australia won the first of the three official tests by nine wickets, only to lose the next two for The Ashes to be "regained".
However, those three tests don't seem to hold as much of a significance as the social matches - the ones that were never scheduled - do. It being the Christmas Eve in 1882, Bligh and Co. decided to play a match at The Rupertswood Estate situated on the outskirts of Melbourne and as is believed, it was after the very match that Bligh was presented the small terracotta urn - The Ashes Urn as it is known today - by a group of ladies, one of which was Florence Murphy, a friend of Lady Janet Clarke - the Mistress of Rupertswood - and the very lady Ivo Bligh went on to marry in February 1884.
Following Bligh's death 43 years later, the urn that he believed to be a personal gift, was then given over to The MCC as was requested by him.
The Ashes in the Urn
There is no definite theory about the ashes present in the urn, but the one generally believed to be true, says the ashes to be those of the bails that were used in the third test, though Lord Darnley's daughter-in-law suggested the ashes to be the remains of her mother-in-law's "veil". Henceforth, the debate over those ashes looks set to continue for generations.
The Text on the Urn
When Ivo goes back with the urn, the urn;
Studds, Steel, Read and Tylecote return, return;
The welkin will ring loud,
The great crowd will feel proud,
Seeing Barlow and Bates with the urn, the urn;
And the rest coming home with the urn.