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                                     Some ‘Quite Interesting’ facts about bowls.

                                           Use the cursor to magnify the text.

   These could possibly be the oldest definitive rules of the game of bowls.

   Dated 1670 and approved by Charles II they are remarkably like today’s rules.

   Rules 3 and 5 are interesting. Also a subscription of one guinea in those days would

   limit the membership to those with too much money.

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The following, originally in Latin, was translated by F. W. Felkin of Painswick Bowling Club in

1936. It was written by Joseph Addison (1672 - 1719).

The last 4 lines of the second stanza are interesting!

                 BOWLS

        from the Latin Sphaeristerium


Here where the bowling green extends a space

Level and broad, a grassy and open place

At early dawn before the sun grew hot

While yet the dew-drops glistered o’er the plot

The busy mower shaved the close-cut green

Yet closer, till no nightly growth was seen

Then the stone ponderous roller to and fro

Levelled the turf where lumps uneven show.


The oiled ‘woods’ then roll, an eager band,

Mobile and rounded from the craftman’s hand,

And each its owner’s private mark displays

Less there should be confusion and delays.

One champion has a wood with plenteous lead

To curve with bias when directly sped.

Another heaves a plain, straightforward bowl

Which keeps its course directly to the goal.


And then the ‘toss-up’ or the ‘sides agreed’

Divide the teams: each arms himself with speed.

The ‘jack’ is rolled to guide the future aim

And then the Leader’s wood begins the game.

Resolute, slow it glides, then makes a bend;

You’d think it weary as it nears its end.

His luck another and another tries

Till round the jack a close-packed cluster lies.


Hardly a gap is left, yet, like a snake

See yonder cunning wood its entrance make.

Mark how one bowler whose momentum fails

Follows, bends down and at its lagging, rails,

And to explain his inexpert display

Blames the rough turf and mole heaps in the way.


Oh how they laugh whenever clumsy play

Or too much bias takes the wood astray;

The bowler writhes with many a foolish shout;

Curses his ball and bids it turn about:

The wood, however, deaf to words of wrath

Calmly pursues its self-appointed path.

That ball receives the highest meed of praise

Which goes straight on its course and never strays,

Till it completes its own predestined track

Pierces the crowd and rests against the jack.


A win! But wait, th’opposing skip takes sight

And hurls into the bunch with all his might.

But if our bowler strikes his own allies,

As well he may for many a hindrance lies

Great is his wrath, he curses cruel fate

And calls on Gods and Fortunate obdurate.

But if his shot is fortunate, and he

Robbing the foe of half-won victory

Wins through - Hurrah, hurrah his comrades shout:

Hurrah! Echo the crowd and green about.


Meanwhile the sunbeams pour their weary heat

And salt the players’ limbs with drops of sweat:

They seek the shade and cooling breeze apace

And wipe the glistening dew-drops from their face.

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