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Sports and Pastimes Through the Ages page 2


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The May-day games in the early part of the reign of Henry VIII gave new life to the sport of archery after the edicts of successive monarchs - compelling every man to furnish himself with bows and arrows and become an efficient bowman - had failed to revive an interest in the sport.

The fields round London were used by the citizens for the practice of archery from a very early date, and there were a great number of shooting marks and targets set up in them for the use of the archers. A plan of London "archers' marks" is still preserved in the Armoury House of the Honourable Artillery Company, and here may also be seen the only specimen of an archers' mark now in existence. It is made of stone, about five feet high, and has the word "SCARLET" engraved on it. On the face of the mark is an iron tablet, with the arms of the Finsbury Archers in relief. The spacious parade ground of the Honourable Artillery Company was the scene of many famous archery matches from 1600 to 1791. In 1784 the Toxophilite Society formed an archers' division in the H.A.C., and the bowmen of this unit were the last to twang the bow-string on the old Artillery ground.

The Royal Company of Archers at Edinburgh still practise archery as a pastime, and maintain at the Archers' Hall in that city a bowmaker. The Edinburgh Bowmen form a connecting link between ancient and modern bowmanship. The Royal Company of Archers lay claim by Royal Charter to the curious privilege of acting as the bodyguard of the reigning sovereign whenever he or she approaches within five miles of their metropolis. When George the Fourth visited Scotland, -this privilege was asked for, and was granted. For more than two centuries, without the omission of a single year, the Edinburgh Bowmen have held a toxophilite competition for the silver arrow. The position of the Edinburgh Archers in Scotland was formally recognized by the Privy Council of the day so far back as 1676, and their position was confirmed and consolidated under a Charter granted by Queen Anne written to the Great Seal and registered on the 6th day of March 1704.

It is perhaps not generally known that the first phases of scientific cricket are also associated with the parade ground of the Honourable Artillery Company in the City Road, and that here matches were played in 1700. Kent and All England was played on the Artillery ground on June 18, 1744, and the match was described in the contemporary press as "the greatest cricket match ever known." It is further of unique interest that the detailed record of this game has been preserved and it is the earliest cricket score in existence.

The Hambledon Cricket Club was started about 1750, and a handsome granite monument which marks the site of their ground on Broadhalfpenny Down to-day bears a carving of the "biped" wicket and two of the curious bats used by the club.

A social club which met at " he Star and Garter," Pall Mall, next formed a club and played the game in the White Conduit Fields at Islington. It was from the White Conduit players that the famous Marylebone Club was formed which was destined to become the controller of our favourite English game. Thomas Lord, who was a ground-bowler at White Conduit Fields, planned the first ground of the Marylebone Club at Dorset Square in the parish of Marylebone. The club afterwards moved to North Bank, Regent's Park, but after a brief period had again to make a move, and, finally, in 1814, settled down at St. John's Wood, its present quarters.

Like most "throw and hit" games played with bats and balls, the origin of cricket may be said to go back to times beyond record. Some students of the game have argued that it was imported from India; others say the Romans introduced it, but the weight of evidence favours the popular view that to England alone the world is indebted for this game. It is considered highly probable that the word cricket is a corruption of "creag," a variation of an old Saxon word signifying a game played with a crooked bat. If this derivation is correct we can trace the game back for six hundred years, for the word appears in the accounts of the royal household in the reign of Edward I, where an item records that Johanni de Leek, chaplain of Prince Edward, paid out a hundred shillings for the Prince's playing at creag and other sports at Westminster.

Stool-ball can only be traced back as far as 1450, when Myrc, in his instructions to Parish Priests, forbade its being played in churchyards. The game of stool-ball has been revived in the last twenty years, and to-day several clubs are active. The Society of Sussex Downsmen at Brighton has made great efforts to popularise the game and plays matches in various Sussex towns during the summer months. Stool-ball is sometimes called cricket-up-in-the-air, as the ball is bowled, not on the ground as originally, at the stool, but at a board a foot square, fixed to a post, the top of which is four feet eight inches above the ground. The wickets are placed sixteen yards apart; the bowlers bowl, in overs, underhand, ten yards from each wicket; the bats are similar to enlarged fives bats; the ball is a hard tennis ball.

Bowls is a pastime which has been played from time immemorial. Five thousand years ago the Egyptian played ninepins, which no doubt was the generic ancestor of bowls, quoits, and other "throw and hit" games.

Half-bowl, another branch of the game, was so popular in the reign of Edward IV that it lured men to gamble away all their possessions and was banned by a Royal statute. In this game fifteen pins were bowled at with a wooden disc. The game of bowls is first mentioned in an Act passed by Henry VIII forbidding any person or persons, "for his or their gain, lucre, or living, to keep, have, hold, occupy, exercise, or maintain any common house, alley, or place of bowling." In spite of these Acts, however, the game continued to exist, as it was not till the reign of George II that the gambling "alley" game, against which the denunciations of the law seem to have been directed, became, more or less, actually suppressed. With the decline of the "alley " game the outdoor pastime now known as bowls became very popular. Quoits still has its followers, but with the popularity of golf it has declined in many districts. The game was evidently derived from the favourite Greek amusement of "throwing the discus."

When and where the first game of football was played it is impossible to say; suffice it to mention that the game is some centuries old, and in reality existed in a more or less definite form in the very earliest ages. The old form of football was attended with much horse-play and brutality, and the law did its best to suppress the game. As early as 1314 a proclamation was issued by Edward II forbidding the "hustling over large balls."

Golf a pastime which first came to maturity in Scotland, has in late years become firmly established in England and America. It derives its name from the club (Dutch. "Kolf") with which it is played. A history of the game from the earliest record was published by Robert Clarke in 1876, and from this we learn it is of great antiquity, and frequent references are made to it in old Scottish records. It was so extensively played in Scotland that the people neglected archery, which was looked upon as far more important owing to its employment for the defence of the country. From 1592 to 1620 we find many proclamations against playing golf on Sunday. Charles I was much attached to the game, and on his visit to Scotland in 1641 was engaged in it on Leith links when intimation was given him of the rebellion in Ireland.

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Pictures for Sports and Pastimes Through the Ages page 2

ROMANTIC REVIVAL OF THE TOURNEY IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
ROMANTIC REVIVAL OF THE TOURNEY IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY >>>>
SURVIVAL OF THE DAYS OF CHIVALRY
SURVIVAL OF THE DAYS OF CHIVALRY >>>>
HAWKING, ONE OF ENGLAND'S OLDEST SPORTS, REVIVED IN MODERN TIMES
HAWKING, ONE OF ENGLAND'S OLDEST SPORTS, REVIVED IN MODERN TIMES >>>>
STAG HUNTING IN THE SOUTH COUNTRY: WITH THE DEVON AND SOMERSET AND THE BERKS AND BUCKS
STAG HUNTING IN THE SOUTH COUNTRY: WITH THE DEVON AND SOMERSET AND THE BERKS AND BUCKS >>>>
WHERE SPURS FOR COCKFIGHTING WERE MADE AND A
WHERE SPURS FOR COCKFIGHTING WERE MADE AND A "MAIN" AS HOGARTH SAW IT >>>>
RUNNING AND WRESTLING AT GRASMERE SPORTS IN THE HEART OF ENGLAND'S LAKELAND
RUNNING AND WRESTLING AT GRASMERE SPORTS IN THE HEART OF ENGLAND'S LAKELAND >>>>
ROYAL BOWMEN AT EDINBURGH
ROYAL BOWMEN AT EDINBURGH >>>>
PRESENT DAY RELICS OF BEAR AND BULL BAITING
PRESENT DAY RELICS OF BEAR AND BULL BAITING >>>>
ONE OF ENGLAND'S OLDEST AND MOST POPULAR GAMES IN PRACTICE TO-DAY
ONE OF ENGLAND'S OLDEST AND MOST POPULAR GAMES IN PRACTICE TO-DAY >>>>
GRANITE MONUMENT AT HAMBLEDON, NURSERY OF CRICKET: TRENT BRIDGE AND A TEST MATCH
GRANITE MONUMENT AT HAMBLEDON, NURSERY OF CRICKET: TRENT BRIDGE AND A TEST MATCH >>>>
CRICKET BEFORE 1750 AND A TOP-HATTED MATCH, KENT V. SUSSEX AT BRIGHTON, 1849
CRICKET BEFORE 1750 AND A TOP-HATTED MATCH, KENT V. SUSSEX AT BRIGHTON, 1849 >>>>
STOOL-BALL REVIVED IN SUSSEX AND BROADSWORD AND RAPIER PLAY AT THE PORTSMOUTH TATTOO
STOOL-BALL REVIVED IN SUSSEX AND BROADSWORD AND RAPIER PLAY AT THE PORTSMOUTH TATTOO >>>>
GOLF IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY AT BLACKHEATH AND NOWADAYS AT ST. ANDREWS
GOLF IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY AT BLACKHEATH AND NOWADAYS AT ST. ANDREWS >>>>
FOOTBALL AFTER THE ORIGINAL STYLE 'PLAYED' AT ASHBOURNE ON SHROVE TUESDAY
FOOTBALL AFTER THE ORIGINAL STYLE 'PLAYED' AT ASHBOURNE ON SHROVE TUESDAY >>>>
FAMOUS BEND IN THE ROODEE COURSE, WHERE THE CHESTER CUP HAS BEEN RUN SINCE 1540
FAMOUS BEND IN THE ROODEE COURSE, WHERE THE CHESTER CUP HAS BEEN RUN SINCE 1540 >>>>

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