Posted Mar 24 2014, 6:31 pm

Croquet5In the time of the wily Victorians, springtime meant CROQUET! The outdoor game involved hitting wooden balls with a long-handled wooden mallet through “wickets” [bent metal hoops jammed into the ground] on a grass playing court. And according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “the oldest document bearing the word ‘croquet’ is the ‘set of rules’ registered by Isaac Spratt in November, 1856 with the Stationers’ Company in London.” Croquet2But records also reflect a similar game called “crookey” being played at Castlebellingham, a village in County Louth, Ireland as far back as 1835. And by 1860, croquet had become one of the most popular social spring/summer/fall pastimes in England. Throughout the years, the number of ‘wickets’ were added or detracted, but the game’s simple outline has remained. Knock the little round ball through the wicket course, ’til reaching the final stake. Croquet4Of course, along the way, the ladies & gents would send their opponent’s ball off course with a well-placed strike. And there were dozens of terms bandied about when they played the game, among them were: Run a hoop – To send the striker’s ball through a wicket; Double tap – A fault in which the mallet makes more than one audible sound when it strikes the ball; or even a Triple peel – To send a ball other than the striker’s ball through its last three hoops, and then peg it out at the end of the course…indeed so many phrases made (and still make) this lawn game of skill an exciting pastime of spring! Croquet1croquet3








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