Victorian Lawn Games

Written by brenda priddy
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Victorian Lawn Games
The Victorians played a lot of lawn games. (Woman in Victorian dress image by Steve Thompson from Fotolia.com)

Thanks to the industrial revolution, the Victorians played more games than almost any society before them. During the industrial revolution, the wealthy class had fewer responsibilities because of factories and the ease of transportation. This increased their leisure time, which many families and friends filled with lawn games. Many of the games that were created or modified during the Victorian period are still in use today, with many of the same rules and equipment.

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Croquet

One of the most famous Victorian lawn games was croquet. Almost every middle class or wealthy family owned a croquet set and played regularly. Perhaps the most well-known example of this is in "Alice in Wonderland" where the Queen of Hearts and Alice play croquet together with flamingos as the sticks and hedgehogs as the balls. The game was introduced in the 1850’s, and was played by men and women alike. It wasn’t until nearly 1880, however, that common rules were established. It was around this time that the game was introduced as a sport at Wimbledon.

Cricket

Cricket was another popular lawn game during the Victorian period. The game was first introduced to England around 1700. Rules of cricket in the Victorian period did not differ from the modern rules. Men and children played the most often, as running around the yard was not seen as a ladylike activity. However, some ladies and girls also played the game.

Lawn Tennis

Lawn tennis was another popular lawn game in the Victorian period. It became an official sport with rules during 1873, when a Welsh nobleman decided to create official rules and patent the game. Early Victorian games consisted of a net spread across the lawn, and defined the boundaries set. Court tennis is derived from the earlier form of lawn tennis, perhaps because of the difficulty of retrieving the ball.

Badminton

The Victorian times also solidified the rules of badminton, which the Victorians borrowed from India. The game was played on Victorian lawns for several years before the rules were solidified. Players used small rackets and a small feathered ball. In 1887 the Bath Badminton Club was formed. This club revised the rules of badminton in 1895; those rules are still in use today.

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