Posts Tagged ‘game’

Clay marbles

January 30, 2016

Here we have yet another ‘found under the floorboards’ collection from 21 Church Street. 2015 was the year of ‘Lost and Found’ at the museum as we featured metal detector and other finds dug up in our parish. 2016 seems to have started with a similar theme.

At the moment, five very nice clay marbles have been located under floorboards. Bob, who lives there and is doing the renovation work expects there to be more.

Clay marbles found under the floorboards at 21 Church Street

Clay marbles found under the floorboards at 21 Church Street

As can be seen, these marbles vary in size a little. The central one appears to be of a different material.

Marbles is a truly ancient and world-wide game. Marbles have been found in archaeology sites all over the world, dating back thousands of years. Early marbles are thought to have been naturally made. Mass production of clay marbles began in the 1890s. Prior to that they had been hand-made, one at a time. It was mass production that made marbles very affordable.

These days, of course, ordinary marbles are mass produced in glass with art marbles being hand made.

Our curator, who’d have been a marbles player in the 1950s doesn’t recall seeing clay marbles in use. ‘It was all glass marbles’, he says. So we rather assume these marbles probably date from before World War Two. They are possibly 19th century, but it is more likely that some poor lads, possibly in the Hopkins family for they occupied 21 Church Street, lost these marbles, irretrievably at the time, in the early years of the 20th century.

These are lovely items to add to our burgeoning ‘Lost and Found’ collection.


Somebody lost their marbles

April 20, 2014

Marbles are truly ancient toys. They have been found in the ashes of Pompeii which means the Romans used them more than 2000 years ago.

Mass production of clay marbles began in 1884 but it isn’t always possible to tell if such clay marbles are from the era of mass production, or from the era of one at a time making.

However, we do think that a couple of clay marbles that we have at Market Lavington Museum do date from the nineteenth century. Here is one of them.

One of two 19th century clay marbles found during renovations at the former Volunteer Arms.

One of two 19th century clay marbles found during renovations at the former Volunteer Arms.

Being a marble, the size is about 1 centimetre across.

We do not know who lost these marbles, but we do know they were found during renovations at the old Volunteer Arms pub on Church Street. Perhaps marbles was played as a pub game, out in the yard or maybe these toys belonged to family who lived there. For much of the nineteenth century this was a branch of the Potter family. They certainly didn’t lose their marbles in any other sense.

Push Penny

June 28, 2012

We recently featured what we thought was a shove ha’penny board on these pages. The board had come from the former Kings Arms pub where conversion to dwelling houses seems to near completion.

We received a comment from a reader who runs a pub games blog (click here) . The comment reads:

The width of this board is unusual, but the depth of the beds may correspond with the less common game of Push Penny, still played in Stamford, Lincs, and  the Hastings area. I have a Push Penny board, and the depth of the beds is around 1 and 7/8ths of an inch, designed for play with an old penny rather than a smaller half penny.

Let’s take another look at our board.

It seems the Kings Arms, Market Lavington had a push penny board

We have measured the board now. It is about 75 cm top to bottom and about 29 cm across. The beds are around 4.6 cm (they are a little variable in size) which is just a bit smaller than the 1 and 7/8th inches the comment suggested. It would seem that the old Kings Arms had a push penny board.

The rules of the game are, essentially those of shove ha’penny. Large, old, Victorian pennies are used.

We’d love to hear from anybody who remembers using this board.

Shove Ha’penny?

June 10, 2012

Shove Ha’penny is a traditional pub game in these parts – and also popular for family or even fete fun.

Market Lavington Museum was recently given a shove ha’penny board, which had been used, at the former Kings Arms pub. It does not appear to be quite conventional in style.

In the traditional game the old British pre-decimal ha’penny (there were 480 of them in a pound) was used. These coins had a diameter of one inch and the board was marked with lines slightly more than that distance apart. The aim was to slide the coins up the board to get them perfectly between the lines. The game can still be bought and this is a relatively modern version shown here.

A modern shove ha’penny board

And here’s the Kings Arms board.

The very different Kings Arms board can now be seen at Market Lavington Museum

This board is longer and narrower than the more conventional board and the ‘beds’, the spaces between the lines, are twice as wide as those for a ha’penny. Presumably some special tokens were used with this version of the game.

This board is probably unusable at present.  Instead of having a cut groove to mark the edges of the beds, this one has inlaid strips. Several of these have risen so the surface is no longer flat and smooth. Scratches alongside these inlays suggest that attempts have been made to sand them down.

Maybe a former Kings Arms regular can tell us more.

For the record, the conversion of the former pub into dwellings continues apace as this post is written in June 2012.


October 22, 2010

Pubs have always been places for gentle, rather than highly athletic games. Card games have been played in pubs for a long time and the most popular, perhaps has been crib, which is what many people call cribbage.

The games bring to mind a couple of older men, sitting in a corner and chanting some kind of strange mantra which might have gone something like, ‘fifteen two, fifteen four, fifteen six and a pair’s eight’.

Market Lavington Museum was pleased to find a crib board – the scoreboard really – at The Kings Arms. The board is made of wood and has metal divisions to divide the peg holes into groups of five, which make keeping the score so much easier.

The usual game played up to a score of 121, which was twice round the board.

The Kings Arms crib board - now at Market Lavington Museum

The pegs themselves are missing, but very often matchsticks were used.

Vacuation – a Second World War Card Game

October 10, 2010

The Second World War ended some 65 years ago. Older residents of the village remember wartime and it is, perhaps, not surprising that we have many mementos of life during those dark years. One of them is a card game called Vacuation.

Vacuation card game box. Find it in the 'war cabinet' at Market Lavington Museum

The box for the cards appears to show three members of a family. They seem to have a mixed set of emotions. 

The back of the cards - a sombre looking evacuation area!

The cards themselves have a fairly sober back with a representation of a smoky city as the evacuation area and a more pastoral reception area. The card fronts however are enormous fun.

Just a few of the 'Vacuation' cards at Market Lavington Museum

Sadly we have no rules for the game. Can anyone help us with this missing component?