They’ve been playing croquet on the Rec in Bath since the 1860s when there was a craze for the sport.
Ball and mallet games date back centuries but in the mid 19th century the rules of croquet become formalised and the game flourished. The reasons were many but it was a sport women could play in long skirts without getting hot and sweaty and they could play men on even terms.
Also lawns were kept in good condition and well trimmed with advent of hand pushed lawn mowers and rollers.
And there was a growing fashion for croquet parties for the fashionable and wealthy.
The middle classes and less wealthy took up the sport in public places like Bath’s Recreation Ground where anyone could play the sport.
The current club at the Rec dates to only 1976 when enthusiasts restored the sport which now has around 100 members.
The club house is an attractive and modern home for the players complete with cuttings from previous decades, photos of past players from the 1920s and a prized cup dating back to the sport’s glory days.
Lynne Passfield is the club’s Chairman and clearly loves hitting balls through hoops.
“My neighbour in Bristol was always nagging me to play, so when I retired as a primary school teacher I thought I’d have a go,” she said, “I love it here, I love the setting and when you are playing on a summer’s evening and the sun goes down over the Abbey in the distance it is such a wonderful place to be.
”The sport has been dogged by the cliche of only being played on the lawns of rectories by genteel folk but in reality it is a fiercely competitive and highly skilled sport. It is played across the country under the rules of The Croquet Association UK with Bath playing under the SW Federation pitched against teams from South Wales, Worcestershire, and Gloucestershire. This season (which lasts 12 months) will feature free taster sessions for those interested.
The first one is on Saturday, April 23rd, details at https://www.bathcroquet.com/
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