The game of croquet
Croquet has existed in some form for hundreds of years. It wasn’t until the mid 1800s that it became known as croquet however. Prior to then various games existed that involved hitting balls through hoops with a mallet. One such games was known as ‘Pal Mal’ which derived from the Latin words that translate into ‘ball & mallet’. Various historic sources illustrate this game being played as early at 1611. It wasn’t until 1856 that the first document was recorded that referred to the game as croquet. By 1868 the All England croquet club was formed in Wimbledon, London. By this time the game was taking England and much of Europe by storm. It seemed the craze was going to be short lived however when during the 1870s the game became eclipsed by an increasingly popular game, Tennis. The All England Croquet club converted many of their croquet lawns into tennis courts, the name was changed to the ‘All England Lawn Tennis and croquet club’ and while they still retain a seldom used croquet lawn their main focus became tennis. They now host the worlds most famous tennis tournament, known simply as ‘Wimbledon’.
The game of croquet enjoyed a slight improvement in popularity during the 1890s but has by and large remained a fairly marginal game. Over the next century the game became increasingly associated with the wealthy gentry. Most likely due the need for a sizable and flat lawn to play on, something the working class of Britain seldom had access to. The social class stigma of croquet was brought to the forefront recently when in 2006 the communist politician John Prescott was photographed playing Croquet on the lawn of the Dorneywood estate. This didn’t do his political career many favours, but was probably one of his lesser mistakes during his ten long years as deputy PM. If anything it gave the game some much needed exposure and illustrated that even cocktail socialists without a modicum of class could still play the game without losing face.
Today croquet retains a steady amount of interest and sets can be bought for very modest sums or four figures depending on how serious you are about your game. The Regency Chess Company will soon be expanding our range of croquet sets to include other popular brands and styles. It is always our intention to offer the best range of products backed up by the best level of customer service.