Saturday, December 31, 2016

Friday, December 30, 2016

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

16C & 17C Elites attend a Garden Concert

Gardens were the scene of outdoor amusements & recreation in the centuries before public pleasure gardens blossomed on both sides of the Atlantic. For recreation, elites enjoyed promenading, especially in a public place, to meet or to be seen & admired by others.


Attributed to Louis de Caullery (Dutch-Flemish artist, 1555-1622) Making Music in a Garden

Louis de Caullery (Dutch-Flemish artist, 1555-1622) also known as Luis de Koller, Luis de Kaulleri, Louis de Coulery, specialized in genre, allegory, architecture, & landscape painting.  Like many Flemish artists of the period, he had traveled to & worked in Italy. A circle of like-minded artists gathered around him in Antwerp, painting scenes of banquets, balls, carnivals, & other celebrations often in gardens. The architecture & the parterres of the gardens are precisely drawn, often in skillfully telescoped perspective.

Monday, December 26, 2016

16C & 17C Elites Promenade in Gardens

Gardens were the scene of outdoor amusements & recreation in the centuries before public pleasure gardens blossomed on both sides of the Atlantic. For recreation, elites enjoyed promenading, especially in a public place, to meet or to be seen & admired by others.


Attributed to Louis de Caullery (Dutch-Flemish artist, 1555-1622) Walking on a Terrace

Louis de Caullery (Dutch-Flemish artist, 1555-1622) also known as Luis de Koller, Luis de Kaulleri, Louis de Coulery, specialized in genre, allegory, architecture, & landscape painting.  Like many Flemish artists of the period, he had traveled to & worked in Italy. A circle of like-minded artists gathered around him in Antwerp, painting scenes of banquets, balls, carnivals, & other celebrations often in gardens. The architecture & the parterres of the gardens are precisely drawn, often in skillfully telescoped perspective.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

17C Elite celebrate in a Garden

Gardens were the scene of outdoor amusements & recreation in the centuries before public pleasure gardens blossomed on both sides of the Atlantic. For recreation, elites enjoyed promenading, especially in a public place, to meet or to be seen & admired by others.

Esaias van de Velde (Dutch painter, 1587-1630) The Garden Party

Friday, December 23, 2016

Sharing News & Music at a a Local Tavern or Inn

Outdoor spaces were the scene of amusements & recreation at everyday taverns in the centuries before commercial public pleasure gardens blossomed on both sides of the Atlantic. Public pleasure gardens & grounds became places to meet neighbors & travelers passing through; to exchange news; to meet lovers; to play sports & games; to eat & drink; to watch entertainments; to promenade for recreation; to conduct business; to see & be seen.   


 Adriaen Jansz Van Ostade (1610-1685) Merry Peasants. Music outside the local tavern.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

17C Elite celebration on a Garden Terrace

Gardens were the scene of outdoor amusements & recreation in the centuries before public pleasure gardens blossomed on both sides of the Atlantic. Gardens were the scene of outdoor amusements & recreation in the centuries before public pleasure gardens blossomed on both sides of the Atlantic. For recreation, elites enjoyed promenading, especially in a public place, to meet or to be seen & admired by others.


Jan Miense Molenaer (Dutch Baroque Era Painter, ca.1610-1668) Merry Company on the Garden Terrace

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Party for Elites in an idyllic Parkland near a Villa.

Dirk Hals 1591-1656 A Party in idyllic Parkland near a Villa. The guests in festive clothes eating, drinking, making music.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

17C Elites Dining on the Terrace at a Private Garden

Exclusive gardens & garden terraces were the scene of outdoor amusements & recreation for the upper classes & royalty in the centuries before more egalitarian commercial public pleasure gardens blossomed on both sides of the Atlantic. For recreation, elites also enjoyed promenading, especially in a public place, to meet or to be seen & admired by others. Later, Public Pleasure Gardens & Grounds became acceptable places to meet neighbors & travelers passing through; to exchange news; to meet lovers; to play sports & games; to eat & drink; to watch entertainments; to promenade for recreation; to conduct business; to see & be seen.
1620 Esaias van den Velde (Dutch painter, 1587-1630) The Garden Party

Friday, December 16, 2016

16C & 17C Elites Feast in a Castle Park

Gardens were the scene of outdoor amusements & recreation in the centuries before public pleasure gardens blossomed on both sides of the Atlantic. For recreation, elites enjoyed promenading, especially in a public place, to meet or to be seen & admired by others.

Attributed to Louis de Caullery (Dutch-Flemish artist, 1555-1622) Feast in a Castle Park

Louis de Caullery (Dutch-Flemish artist, 1555-1622) also known as Luis de Koller, Luis de Kaulleri, Louis de Coulery, specialized in genre, allegory, architecture, & landscape painting.  Like many Flemish artists of the period, he had traveled to & worked in Italy. A circle of like-minded artists gathered around him in Antwerp, painting scenes of banquets, balls, carnivals, & other celebrations often in gardens. The architecture & the parterres of the gardens are precisely drawn, often in skillfully telescoped perspective.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

16C Elites making Music & Feasting in a Garden

Gardens were the scene of outdoor amusements & recreation in the centuries before public pleasure gardens blossomed on both sides of the Atlantic. For recreation, elites enjoyed promenading, especially in a public place, to meet or to be seen & admired by others.


Attributed to Louis de Caullery (Dutch-Flemish artist, 1555-1622) Making Music in the Garden

Monday, December 12, 2016

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Elite 17C Garden Celebration with random dogs & peacocks & music

Jan Steen (Dutch artist, 1626-1679) Garden Party 1677

Dutch artist Jan Steen (1626-1569) is best known for his upbeat genre paintings depicting scenes from everyday life. Genre painting in the Netherlands began with images of proverbs, allegories, & folklore by 16C artists, among them Pieter Breugel the Elder (1528-1569).  By the early 1600s, the Netherlands had come to prosper through trade & commerce. Soon a new middle-class emerged which could accumulate enough money to buy decorative items for their homes. Artists began to create images for this new type of buyer, usually subjects that they would see around them in their daily lives. Unlike the high art paintings, that the very wealthy would specially commission from artists, genre works were sold on the free market to anyone who could afford to buy them.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sports and Games - 17C Children of Privilege playing Boules

Nicolas Arnoult (French, c 1650–c 1722) c 1687-1690 Three youngsters playing boules, as two well-dressed ladies promenade.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sports & Games - Boules in 1802 France

Five elderly men playing at boules; behind two dogs and an elegant lady. c.1802 in Paris

Boules is a term for a wide range of games in which the objective is to throw or roll heavy (often metal) balls (called boules in France, and bocce in Italy) as close as possible to a small target ball. Boules-type games are traditional and popular in France, Italy, Malta and Croatia, and some former French colonies. Boules games are often played in open spaces (town squares and parks) in villages and towns. Dedicated playing areas for boules-type games are typically large, level, rectangular courts made of flattened earth, gravel, or crushed stone, enclosed in wooden rails or back boards.
In the south of France, the word boules is also often used as a synonym for pétanque.

There is a wide variation in the size and materials of the balls used in boules-type games. Originally, in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, the balls were probably made of stone. Gallic tribes, which were introduced to boules by the Romans, used wooden boules. In the 1800s in France, boules were typically made of a very hard wood, boxwood root. In the mid-1800s techniques were developed for the mass production of iron nails. Following this technological improvement, boxwood balls studded with nails (boules cloutées) were introduced in an effort to improve the durability of the balls. This eventually lead to the development of balls that were completely covered in nails, creating a ball that appeared almost to be made of metal. By the 1920s, the growing popularity of boules in France created a demand that could not be satisfied using the available supplies of natural boxwood root, which were beginning to disappear. Paul Courtieu and Vincent Miles had the idea of manufacturing a ball made entirely of metal. Avoiding steel-based alloys (which were too hard and rust-prone) they developed an alloy based on aluminum and bronze, and (in 1923) patented a metal ball made of two welded-together hemispheres. A year later, in 1924, they filed a patent for a ball that was cast in a single piece -- La Boule intégrale. Other companies began manufacturing metal balls in a variety of metals and metal alloys, including bronze. The wooden balls used in bocce tend to be bigger than the smaller (but denser) metal balls used in pétanque.

Types of boules games include:
Bocce is the ancestral sport of most boules games. It is a rolling game using wooden balls and a run-up throwing technique.
Boules, otherwise known as Pétanque, is perhaps the sport that is closest to the hearts of the French [3]
Bocce volo is a throwing game using metal balls and a rather complicated run-up.
Boccia is a form of bocce adapted for players who are confined to wheel chairs.
Bolas criollas is a bocce-like game played in Venezuela
Bowls or "lawn bowls" is a British game similar to bocce
Jeu provençal or boule lyonnaise, similar to bocce volo
Pétanque originally evolved from jeu provençal as an adaptation for a player with a disability affecting the legs. However, it quickly became popular among able-bodied players. It is a throwing game using metal balls, but there is no run-up.P layers' feet must remain firmly on the ground.
Punto, raffa, volo (note that this is a single name consisting of three comma-separated words) is a type of bocce

Monday, December 5, 2016

16C & 17C Elites at a Banquet in a Garden

Gardens were the scene of outdoor amusements & recreation in the centuries before public pleasure gardens blossomed on both sides of the Atlantic. For recreation, elites enjoyed promenading, especially in a public place, to meet or to be seen & admired by others.


Attributed to Louis de Caullery (Dutch-Flemish artist, 1555-1622) Banquet in Garden

Louis de Caullery (Dutch-Flemish artist, 1555-1622) also known as Luis de Koller, Luis de Kaulleri, Louis de Coulery, specialized in genre, allegory, architecture, & landscape painting.  Like many Flemish artists of the period, he had traveled to & worked in Italy. A circle of like-minded artists gathered around him in Antwerp, painting scenes of banquets, balls, carnivals, & other celebrations often in gardens. The architecture & the parterres of the gardens are precisely drawn, often in skillfully telescoped perspective.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

16C & 17C Elites at a A Formal Garden with Couples Dancing

Exclusive gardens & garden terraces were the scene of outdoor amusements & recreation for the upper classes & royalty in the centuries before more egalitarian commercial public pleasure gardens blossomed on both sides of the Atlantic. For recreation, elites also enjoyed promenading, especially in a public place, to meet or to be seen & admired by others. Later, Public Pleasure Gardens & Grounds became acceptable places to meet neighbors & travelers passing through; to exchange news; to meet lovers; to play sports & games; to eat & drink; to watch entertainments; to promenade for recreation; to conduct business; to see & be seen.


Attributed to Louis de Caullery (Dutch-Flemish artist, 1555-1622)  A Formal Garden with Couples Dancing

Saturday, December 3, 2016

1400s Making Merry at London's Public Taverns & Inns

Medieval Inn & Tavern Names
From Medievalists.net – January 31, 2014


British Library Medieval, Additional 27695, c. 1330-40

Inns in 15C London offered food & drink & games both indoors & outdoords. This blog traces the evolution of Public Pleasure Gardens & Public Parks & Grounds which often began as local taverns & inns, which became gathering places to mingle with neighbors & strangers; to exchange news; to meet lovers; to play & watch sports & games; to eat & drink; to watch entertainments; to conduct business; & to see & be seen. It is not possible to know if the following inns offered both inside & open air services & spaces to their patrons.

From 1423 to 1426 the names of over 50 taverns & inns were recorded by William Porland, who was the clerk for London’s fraternity of Brewers. In an article in the Journal of the English Place Name Society, Barrie Cox takes a look at these names & some of the reasons how they got them. Here are few:

1. The Swan – this was the most popular name, with 6 taverns in London using it. Other taverns were named for birds as well, including The Crane & The Cock. There were even taverns called The White Cock & The Red Cock.

2. The Dolphin (Dolphyn) was the name of a tavern near St. Magnus’ Church. Other animal names for taverns include The Horse, The Lamb & The Old Bull.

3. The Seven Stars (vij Sterres) – according to medieval knowledge, the 7 stars represented the sun, the moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus & Mercury. Another tavern had the name The Three Moons.

4. The King’s Head (kyngeshed) – a few other taverns had a similar name, including The Horse’s Head, The Ram’s Head & The Saracen’s Head

5. Two taverns were named after saints: The Christopher, after the patron saint of travellers, & The St. Julian, who was the patron saint of hospitality.

6. The Pewter Pot (peauterpotte) could be found in Ironmonger Lane in Cheapside. It probably got its name for a type of drinking vessel.

7. The Pannier (panyer) on Paternoster Rowe would have been based on the French word panier, which means bread basket. Barrie Cox writes “this seems appropriate as a name for a lowly eating- & drinking-house.”

8. The Cony (Cony yn Conyhooplane) was a Middle English word for a rabbit, leading Cox to believe “the name suggests a small tavern where a rabbit stew could be enjoyed.”

Other names of medieval taverns include The Ball, The Basket, The Bell, The Cross, The Cup, The Garland, The Green Gate, The Hammer, The Lattice, The Rose & 2 that were called The Ship.

Barrie Cox’ article ‘Some London Inn & Tavern Names 1423-1426′ appears the Journal of the English Place Name Society, Vol.30(1997-8). He also wrote the book English Inn & Tavern Names, which was published in 1994 & is available from the Institute for Name Studies, University of Nottingham.

Friday, December 2, 2016

A most elegant 18C game of Skittles accompanied by Music

Johan Franz Hörmannsperger (Austrian, 1710-?) Music and Bowling 1736 from his private albumn shows artist/tailor bowling in a Baroque garden on the weekend with his tailor friends. Album of the Imperial blanket maker J. F. Hörmannsperger. Baroque pattern book and album of the blanket maker Johann Franz Hörmannsperger. Vienna. A unique document of late Baroque craftsmanship among the urban Third Estate. These gouaches showing the self-assured 26 year-old author practicing his trade in his workshop, advertising and selling his wares to customers, as well as playing music and even bowling.

Inscription for this image: "All gay and jolly, for we are journeymen of the trade: and so the virgins may be; they will not be bored - here is red wine and white, so well we may make merry."

Thursday, December 1, 2016

18C Grounds for Gentlemen & for Everyone Else including Monkeys

Skittles Rules and instructions for playing at skittles. By a Society of Gentlemen 1786


View of a skittle ground at Hampstead, 1796


Children's games, including skittles, played by monkeys. 1593 Etching on paper, produced by Pieter van der Borcht (Flemish printmaker, 1545-1608)  edited by Justus Sadeler

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sports & Games - A Skittles Argument + a brief History

Argument Two Peasants quarrelling over a game of skittles; village and forest in background Print by Monogramist FVB c 1475-1500 Netherlandish

In England, skittles grew in popularity for the common-man during the 15C & 16C to the point where “Common bowling-alleys  are privy mothes that eat up the credit of many idle citizens,” (Stephen Gosson, The School of Abuse, 1579). John Stow, writing in his Survey of London in 1598, complained about the loss of space for defensive martial sports, particularly archery; because “by the means of closing in of common grounds, our archers, for want of room to shoot abroad, creep into bowling-alleys and ordinary dicing-houses near home.”  He also cited specific examples such as Northumberland house in London “being deserted by that noble family, the gardens were converted into bowling-alleys, and the other parts into dicing houses.” By the mid 17C, schoolboys were playing “at skittle-pins, or dust-point” according to an example given in a Latin primer of 1649 (An Easie Entrance to the Latine Tongue, Charles Hoole) & another common use of the term was recorded a few years later during the civil war: “Unruly Rulers are like Ninepins, advanced one by one, to be thrown down by sixes and seavens” (Nathaniel Church, A Pocket-Companion made of 500 Proverbial Aphorismes, 1657.) By the early 18C, British skittles appeared to have a class element creeping in. John Strype’s 1720 Survey of London lists “the modern sports of the citizen besides drinking” and includes “bowling upon greens” before going on to list the “diversions” of “the lower classes” which include “bowling in allies and skittles.”  Bowling greens rather than alleys that figured in the great gardens of the day. Even so, Charles Cotton whose Compleat Gamester was published in 1674 was scathing about both. “The Bowling-green, or  Bowling-Alley is a place where three things are thrown away beside the Bolts - Time, Money, and Curses.”

See: Parks & Gardens UK

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Sports & Games - 18-19C Skittles & Rackets & Fives at Prison

The raquet ground of the Fleet Prison as drawn by Augustus Pugin and Thomas Rowlandson for Ackermann's Microcosm of London (1808-11) Prisoners playing Fives and Skittles, and socializing. Those imprisoned here were found guilty of debt or contempt of court. Aquatint View of the inner court of the prison, with the prisoners playing rackets and skittles on the left, others standing watching, a number of men smoking pipes, others lounging across benches. 1807 The Fleet Prison stood on the eastern bank of the Fleet River, just outside the city walls. The prison burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, but rebuilt much as before, consisting of several long buildings (with 4 upper stories and a cellar) arranged around yards in which better-off prisoners could play rackets or skittles.

In its earliest form during the 18C, rackets was played in the open on the walls of the yards of the 2 main debtor's prisons in London, the King's Bench and the Fleet. Fleet Prison was mainly a debtors’ prison. William Penn was held there in 1707-1709 for debt. However,the prison also held political and religious prisoners. In 1601, the poet John Donne was imprisoned in it for marrying a woman without her father’s consent. Gentlemen, imprisoned until they could find the wherewithal to repay their creditors, amused themselves with many different activities around the prison yard. These included skittles, fives, which was played both with the hand and a bat, and some brought tennis rackets with them and improvised against any convenient wall, sometimes with no side walls and always without a back wall. Spectators as well as prison visitors often came to watch matches in the prisons.

Every year, the prisoners elected a Racket Master to run the sports activities here and this was apparently a hotly contested position. In 1841, 3 people were running against each other to win the position. One candidate noted that the “health of my fellow inmates is in some measure placed in the hands of the person appointed.”  Skittle Master was another bitterly contested post among the prisoners! 

Fleet was a profit-making enterprise. Nothing was free in prison. Food and lodging had to be paid for by the prisoner. There were fees for turning keys, fees for putting on of irons and fees for taking them off again. Even visitors had to pay fees. And the Fleet had the highest fees in the country. Prisoners with a trade such as tailoring might continue to work and earn while in captivity, but many others were reduced to begging. While the poorest prisoners languished in the cellar dungeons (known as Bartholomew Fair), those able to afford it could be lodged in large comfortable quarters on the Master's Side. The Fleet Prison management also supplemented its income by the provision of a prison tap room and coffee-room which were open to the public. The rackets court was also open to the public.

In 1842, parliament agreed to proceed with the demolition of the Fleet and transfer of all prisoners to the Queen’s Bench Prison. Some prisoners weren’t happy about this, especially as the Queen’s Bench ran a tougher regime. A song went thus: To racquets, skittles, whistling shops; We must soon say farewell; The Queen’s assent to her prison bill; Has rung their funeral knell

See: The History of Rackets

Monday, November 28, 2016

18C Skittles - A Little Disagreement with the "Authorities" a Local Tavern or Inn

Pub'd as the Act directs, for the proprietor by W. Dickie, No. Strand, E. Macklew, No. 9 Haymarket and W. Moore, No. 48 New Bond Street, 1787 Sept. 17th. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C 

The rise of Methodism and concerns for stricter morality & order became more apparent in Britain in the mid-late 18C. At this time, skittle grounds were scenes of crime. A response to the magistrates who dictated that skittle grounds in and near London to be level, and the frames removed. In 1751, skittles was one of several pub games to be banned, with publicans potentially losing their licence and being fined for allowing them to be played.The first set of restrictions may have applied just to places that sold spirits, rather than simple ale-houses, because further legislation was passed in 1757, to reinforce that but aimed specifically at the working class. Newspapers reported plenty of drunkenness, as well as robberies, fights, & even murders there.

Print shows three men of some importance trying to pry a skittle board from the ground using bars labeled "Justass" and "Mo-Ral-I-Ty"; a pick labeled "Proclamation" lies on the ground nearby with balls and pegs, and from over a fence a donkey brays at them; a tavern keeper stands to the left holding a tankard on which is written "Done ... over," also, two men have large birds stuffed in their coat pockets or something like that.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sports & Games - 18-19C Skittles & Rackets in Britain both in & out of Prison

Debtors Playing Rackets at the Fleet Prison in 1827

A Brief History of Rackets

In its earliest form during the 18C, rackets was played in the open on the walls of the yards of the 2 main debtor's prisons, King's Bench &  Fleet. Gentlemen, imprisoned by their creditors, amused themselves with many different activities around the prison yard. These included skittles, fives, which was played both with the hand and a bat, and some debtors brought tennis rackets with them and improvised against any convenient wall, sometimes with no side walls and usually without a back wall.
"The Humours of the Fleet: An humorous, descriptive Poem. Written by a Gentleman of the College," & "London: Printed for B. Dickinson, the Corner of the Bell-Savage Inn, on Ludgate-Hill. 1749. The design represents the "yard" of the Fleet, with 2 prisoners playing at racket against the high wall, and several men looking idly at the game...Below the design the following verses are engraved : "Welcome Welcome Brother Debtor To this poor but merry place..." 

There is mention of rackets at the Fleet in the poem The Humours of The Fleet in 1749 and in John Howard's report on the state of prisons in England and Wales published in 1780. It is not until the early 1800s that rackets becomes part of life outside the prisons. In his Book of Sports and Mirror of Life published by Pierce Egan in 1832, there is a long description of rackets mentioning several open rackets courts other than the King's Bench and the Fleet. One of these was at the Belvedere Tavern, Pentonville, where most of the Open Court Championships were played. Others were to be found elsewhere in London, again at public houses, at the Eagle Tavern on the City Road, The White Bear Kennington, the White Conduit House, and the Rosemary Branch, Peckham.

There are records of courts at Bristol, Bath, Birmingham and Belfast. Egan states that if a gentleman sought a game at a tavern he would have to mix with those not of the highest rank in society. Implicit in this observation is that the debtors prison may have had a higher class of player (in both meanings of the word), and mention is made of a Major Campbell who was the best player in the King's Bench through having been incarcerated there for 14 years. 

Spectators as well as prison visitors often came to watch matches in the prisons. Dickens mentions rackets in the Pickwick Papers, as Mr Pickwick had the misfortune to be incarcerated in the Fleet. From Dickens' description the Fleet court appears to have had a front wall and one sidewall. In 1814, there were 4 courts at the King's Bench and six racket masters to look after them. Early courts outside the prisons had a front wall only, about 40 feet wide and 45 ft high.

Outside prisons and taverns, Harrow was the 1st school at which rackets was played, probably from the early 1820s, when the schoolyard was enlarged. Both Oxford and Cambridge universities had courts by 1855, the date of the first Varsity match. There were courts built at Torquay in 1859 and the first covered court at Harrow school, built in 1865 is still in use today. Devonshire Park at Eastbourne included a rackets court built in 1870, as part of its general recreational facilities. Between 1870 and 1890, courts were built at the new Princes Club, Manchester, Liverpool; and in 1888, the courts at The Queen's Club were opened.

Sources: Book of Racquets J.R. Atkins. The Badminton Library. The Lonsdale Library. British Sports and Sportsmen. Willis Faber Book of Tennis and Rackets Lord Aberdare. The Queens Club Story Roy McKelvie

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Sports & Games - 1770s Skittles on "Saint Monday" at the Local Tavern or Inn

Saint Monday in the Afternoon, or All Nine and Swallow the Bowl 1770s. This print is evidently based on one of Francis Hayman's paintings of the early 1740s for the supper-boxes at Vauxhall Gardens: "The Play of Skittles and the Husband upbraided by the Wife." The Hayman painting is lost, but its composition is recorded in a drawing at Birmingham City Art Gallery. See B. Allen, Francis Hayman, Exhibition Catalogue, Yale Center for British Art, 1987, Lettered with title, 15 lines of verse beginning, "Just at the Finish of a Game ...", and publication line: "Sold by R. Marshall, at No, 4, in Aldermary Church Yard London."

In this print, 9 tradesman; a weaver, barber, tailor, blacksmith, cobbler, butcher, carpenter, bricklayer, and house-painter play skittles in tavern garden, with wife of weaver arriving from left to berate him. Saint Monday was the traditional unofficial, day-long holiday taken by tradesmen in the 17C to 20C. 

Explaining the angry wife in this print, an 18C folk song from Sheffield, England, "The Jovial Cutler," portrays a craftsman enjoying a lazy Saint Monday, much to the dismay of his wife:
"Brother workmen, cease your labour,
Lay your files and hammers by.
Listen while a brother neighbour
Sings a cutler's destiny:
How upon a good Saint Monday,
Sitting by the smithy fire,
We tell what's been done o't Sunday,
And in cheerful mirth conspire."

Soon I hear the trap-door rise up,

On the ladder stands my wife:
"Damn thee, Jack, I'll dust thy eyes up,
Thou leads a plaguy drunken life;
Here thou sits instead of working
Wi' thy pitcher on thy knee;
Curse thee, thou'd be always lurking
And I may slave myself for thee."

"Ah, the bright, fat, idle devil

Now I see thy goings on,
Here thou sits all day to revel
Ne'er a stroke o' work thou'st done.
See thee, look what stays I've gotten,
See thee, what a pair o' shoes;
Gown and petticoat half rotten,
Ne'er a whole stitch in my hose."

"Pray thee, look here, all the forenoon

Thou's wasted with thy idle way;
When does t'a mean to get thy sours done?
Thy mester wants 'em in to-day.
Thou knows I hate to broil and quarrel,
But I've neither soap nor tea;
Od burn thee, Jack, forsake thy barrel,
Or nevermore thou'st lie wi' me."

The tradition of taking Monday off has been common among craft workers since at least the 17C, often ascribed to the regimentation of working class life which occurred with industrialization, before then people could choose their own working hours. Since many workers were taking Monday off, there was often convivial company to be had.  They invented a new holiday, Saint Monday, which was usually observed after a late Sunday night at the tavern. Saint Monday became the traditional unofficial holiday taken by tradesmen in the 17C to the early 19C. 

British work had always been interrupted to commemorate the annual feasts of Christmas, New Year, & Whitsuntide (the week beginning with the 7th Sunday after Easter). These traditional holidays were universally observed, but the length of the breaks varied. Depending on local convention, work stopped for anywhere from a few days to 2 weeks. There were also communal holidays associated with special, occasional events such as horse races, sporting competitions, and local fairs & traveling circuses & menageries. When one of these attractions arrived in a village or town, regular work more or less stopped, while people flocked to marvel at exotic animals, equestrian acrobats, & assorted oddities. 

With only Sunday off to relax, the occurrence of Monday hangovers seems to have been high. Hence the idea of "keeping Saint Monday," a common phrase in the 17C to 19C used to describe taking Mondays off "to relax, to recover from drunkenness, or both." The custom was already well known in the 17C, as evidenced by the line in the play: "They say Monday's Shooemaker's holliday, I'le fall to that trade" (Dekker, If It Be Not Good, The Diuel Is In It (1612). 

Monday was sacrosanct. It was the unofficial day off. It was to be spent drinking with friends. In A Collection of Letters for the Improvement of Husbandry and Trade, John Houghton, Fellow of the Royal Society, wrote in his 2nd volume 1683. "When the Frame-work Knitters, or Makers of Silk-Stockings had a great Price for their Work, they have been observed seldom to work on Mundays and Tuesdays, but to spend most of that time at the Ale-House and Nine-Pins. . . . The Weavers, 'tis common with them to be drunk on Munday, to have their Heads ache on Tuesday, and their Tools out of order on Wednesday. As for the Shoemakers, they'l rather be hang'd than not remember St. Crispin on Munday; and it commonly holds as long as they have a penny of Money or pennyworth of Credit."

A rhyme printed in 1639,
You know that Munday is Sundayes brother;
Tuesday is such another;
Wednesday you must go to Church and pray;
Thursday is half-holiday;
On Friday it is too late to begin to spin;
The Saturday is half-holiday again.

Then the industrial revolution came along and imposed strict working schedules on the peasants. But according to E P Thompson, Saint Monday was still widely honored throughout the 18C, 19C, and even the 20C. A moralist complained of London saddlers in 1811, that "we see Saint Monday so religiously kept in this great city...in general followed by a Saint Tuesday also."



See: Tom Hodgkinson, “In Defence of Skiving” in New Statesman, 30 August 2004 
Douglas A. Reid, “The Decline of Saint Monday” in Essays in Social History Volume 2

Le Grand Saint Lundi (The Giant Saint Monday) – The Patron Saint of Drinkers, Jean Wendling, (French, 1800-1863) Detail 1837

Friday, November 25, 2016

Skittles 17C

Skittles by Peter Rollos (active 1619-1639), The Centre of Love 1687. Many of the cities of this period had been designed to protect their inhabitants from hostile attacks & were built on plateaus often surrounded by walls. This greatly reduced the areas where ball games requiring a great distance could be played. Consequently, many games became miniaturized, played in small enclosures or courtyards.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sports & Games - 13-17C Ground Billiards

Ground Billiards Woodcut based on a medieval tapestry commissioned by the St. Lo Monastery of France, circa the 1500s.

The Billiards game we know today appears to have developed from a game called "ground billiards." Although some believe it originated in Spain or Italy, this game probably emerged first in England or France during Medieval times. In Italy the game was known as biglia, in France bilhard, in Spain virlota and in England "ball-yard." An illustration of ground billiards is in Sports and Pastimes of England by James Strutt, created around 1344. But if the image dates to 1344, the game it illustrates could be considerably older. Illustrations dating from the 14C have been found showing "ground billiards" in action - it has similarities to croquet. Manuscripts have been located documenting the equipment used for the game at the time. The earliest of these dates is around 1300 AD. It appears, however, that some people continued to play "ground billiards" in its changing forms as late as the 17C. 

Ground billiards of the 1300's was actually very similar to golf and croquet. Variations of the game were probably as numerous as the towns in which it was played. Ground Billiards was played on a small outdoor court with a hoop at one end and an upright stick at the other. This combination billiard, golf, & croquet-esque pastime required players to strike balls around the court with maces.The object was generally to propel a ball, through obstacles, to a predetermined destination. The equipment was often primitive, but functional: a ball (sizes varied, often one per player); a propelling device (maces—elongated sticks, curved and flattened at the end—were widely used by the 1300's); and a variety of posts, pegs, cones and arches, to be struck, knocked down or passed through.

Many of the cities of this period had been designed to protect their inhabitants from hostile attacks. Many were built on plateaus and surrounded by walls. This greatly reduced the areas where ball games requiring a great distance could be played. Consequently, many games became miniaturized, played in small enclosures or courtyards.
Ground Billiards

Ground Billiards and Lunch - Beugelen, pumping through the bracket German perhaps 1650s

Sunday, November 20, 2016

1597 Ship's crew plays Golf

Beugelen colf in the open air next to a tavern, about 1644 painted by David Teniers the Younger II (1610-1690).


Before an inn, merry-making and playing a game of colf or bracing by Jan Havicksz. Steen (1626-1679).

In 1597, the crew of Willem Barentsz played "colf" during their stay at Nova Zembla, as recorded by Gerrit de Veer in his diary:
Den 3. April wast moy claer weder met een n.o. wint ende stil, doen maeckten wy een colf toe om daer mede te colven, om also onse leden wat radder te maeckten, daer wy allerley middelen toe zochten. Translation: (The 3rd of April the weather was nice and clear with a north-easterly wind and quiet, then we made a colf [club] to play colf with, and thus make our limbs more loose, for which we sought every means)


Peasants to the bracing colf at an inn in a landscape, attributed to David Teniers the Younger II (1610-1690).

Saturday, November 19, 2016

No Golf within the 1387 Brielle city walls

Boulegrin with the king Thuys. manufactured by Romeyn de Hooghe (Amsterdam 1645-1708 Haarlem)

In the 14C, colf was a "long game" played in the city streets, courtyards, and other open areas. In 1387, the regent of the county of Holland, Zeeland and Hainaut, Albrecht of Bavaria, sealed a charter for the city of Brielle, in which it was forbidden to play any game for money. One of the exceptions to this ordinance was "den bal mitter colven te slaen buten der veste" (to play the ball with a club outside the town walls). Two years later, in 1389, the regent Albrecht offered the citizens of Haarlem a field called ‘De Baen’ (the course) to be used exclusively for playing games – especially colf – because these were too dangerous within the city walls.