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Sports & Pastimes

Sports, games, amusements and pastimes through time and from around the world. Including once favourite, but now forgotten children's games, card games etc.

Sports and games (excepting martial activities) were largely banned in Britain by Edward III and later kings including Richard I, Henry III and Richard II on the basis that they distracted the participants from engaging in martial pursuits which would make them more useful to the king as soldiers in securing and protecting the king's wealth. Among games specifically banned by Edward III were football and golf, while Edward IV banned quoits and nine-pins among other games. Cock-fighting and bull-baiting were banned in England not on humane grounds, but becuase they were 'trivial and useless' (that is, not conducive to producing or defending the king's wealth and position). However, despite legislation illegal games continued and during the reign of Henry VI we hear of bowling alleys and diceing houses being established in the grounds of deserted stately homes and so great was the enagagement of the populace that erradication was impossible, as we see from the survival of games today.

Later sports and games have continued to be banned by kings, parliament and the clergy, not just in Britain but also in other cultures around the world, perhaps most infamously by Islamic extremists such as the Taliban who have executed particpants for bicycling, kite-flying, listening to non-religious music etc.

Before the invention of television and the computer game, children in Britain played a wide variety of outdoor games and parlour games. Marbles were a popular amusement, and there were lots of games played with them. When children were very poor, and money was scarce, buttons and pins (both of which were relatively valuable) were used for gambling games among children. You will find descriptions and rules for many of these now forgotten games in this section, along side such favourites which are now dying out such as leapfrog.

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