Games in England in the 1800s

by harrison crase
(newcastale nws australia)

I'm not sure if you mean childrens' games or sports with your question, so I'm sticking with the sports here.

The English have always been 'addicted to sport', whether jousting, long-bow contests, fisticuffs or early forms of football. King Henry VIII was very fond of both jousting and tennis before he grew rather stout and that theme continued throughout history.

Which games you played often depended on your status in life, but in the 1800s, this distinction began to blur a bit.

Upper-class men still spent their time at field sports like hunting, fishing and shooting. Fencing was becoming more a form of exercise rather than a survival skill and cricket had been invented and was pursued with zeal.

Class distinctions blurred at other forms of sport, though. Boxing was extremely popular at all levels of society - even though it was forbidden by law. Large crowds turned up to watch prize fights, and betting could be very high.

Horse racing was another sport that was beloved by all classes of society and even women went to watch and bet.
And young gentlemen of means - and sporting vehicles - often challenged each other to curricle races. These were run on the open road, very much to the consternation of normal traffic.

If you'd like to know more about England during this fascinating time, you could start with this very entertaining book.

It's not just about games, either.

You can learn what to wear, what to drive, how to speak and what sports to play. You can learn where to shop, how to dance and where to find an eligible husband. There's also a detailed who is who of the era - just in case you bump into people! And it's also available from for all English history lovers outside of the UK!

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