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Sunday, 24 March 2013


Bowls is an indoor and outdoor game played as singles, pairs, triples, or fours. The origin of the game is still a matter of conjecture. Finds in Egyptian tombs, proved the existence as early as 5200 BC of a game that consisted of rolling balls or other rounded objects such as a coconut, a clay ball, or a stone) toward a chosen mark.

The sport of bowls spread to ancient Greece and Rome. The Caesars knew some type of the game, calling it boccie, a term that still survives in Italy.

Bowling was popularized by German churchgoers in the third and fourth century who would roll a ball at a kegel, a club used for protection, and if hit they would be absolved from sin.

The earliest recorded reference to a bowling green relates to Southampton, England in 1299. As the Southampton Town Bowling Club, it is still in existence and its members play on the original green.

Somehow bowls became a game closely associated with gambling. People played it not as much as a pastime, but to place wagers and enrich themselves "the easy way." Edicts, as issued by the governments of Edward III and Richard II, made bowling illegal. An Act of 1511 still forbade the playing of bowls to "artificers, labourers, apprentices, servants and the like - at any time except Christmas and then only in their master's house and presence."

When Henry VIII went to war with Emperor Maximilian in 1513, he took a 90ft by 8ft indoor bowling shed with him.

In 1541, Henry VIII forbid the working class from bowling—except on Christmas, when they were allowed to bowl in their master's house.

In 1555 Queen Mary again cancelled the permits as the game of bowls had become "an excuse for unlawful assemblies, conventicles, seditions, and conspiracies."

Francis Drake and other commanders were playing bowls in Plymouth Hoe when news was bought that the Spanish Armada was sailing up the channel. Drake insisted on finishing the game before setting sail.

Dutch settlers brought lawn bowls and ninepins to the New World in the early 17th century.

Glasgow solicitor William Mitchell (1803-84) drew up the rules for modern bowls in 1848.

The English cricketer W.G. Grace was fond of lawn bowls and founded the English Bowling Association in 1903.

Sources Europress Encyclopedia 

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