The origin of Croquet can be found centuries ago and is even more colorful for having been a favourite pastime of kings and in particular King Charles II of England who was married to the Portuguese Infanta Catarina de Bragança and a great favourite of many courtesans.
Modesty apart, for us the Portuguese, maybe the Infanta Catarina did not only introduce the "High Tea" and the "fork" to the English table, but who knows maybe she inspired the King also in his liking for the Sport!
So fond was King Charles II of the Croquet that a very large area of London was dedicated to the game which eventually lent it s name to that very trendy part of London, know as Pall Mall and which derived its name from the name of the game as it was known then of “Paille Maille” ou Pall Mall, - from the latim for "ball and hammer".
Pall Mall, is next to the Saint James Palace in London and went on to also inspire and become one of the favorite places to buy on the Monopoly Board. Paille Maille was played by hitting the ball with a wooden mallet through high metal round hoops.
To win the game one tries to use as little hits as possible getting the ball through the arches or agree to hit a certain number of balls, having on the way the pleasure of trying to get your opponents ball out of play!
The other theory branded is that Croquet was introduced in Ireland around 1850, from Brittany in France where a similar game was played at the beach called "crookey”.
Even today there still exists in London a manufacturer of Sports equipment dedicated to Croquet, descendent from John Jaques, who in 1857, publish the first known official Croquet Rules.
Croquet had a special appeal as it was a sport that could be played by both sexes, even though it was necessary to have a supervising eye, specially at as time when puritanism ruled but at the same time it became a sport that appealed to the working class masses who started to enjoy holidays.
This fun sport was idolized for many by Lewis Carrol in his book of Alice in Wonderland and later was even played at the Olympic games and spread throughout the world and more so in throughout the British Colonies at the peak of the Industrial Revolution in England, during Queen Victoria´s reign and later it also found its noble birth place at the famous “All England Croquet Club”, in Wimbledon, now the home of the Tennis in Britain, where it is played accompanied by ceremonious strawberries and french Champagne.
Pall Mall ilustrado em Old English Sports and Customs, num jogo de Cro quet no Castelo de Eglinton em NorthAyrshire. Do original por Lauthier (1717), publicado em 1891. Texto inspirado por e fotografia extraída de Wikipedia.com/Croquet
Copyright 2011 Maria Cecilia Gale & Sarah Frances Byrne. All rights reserved.