Children Played 500 Years Ago Too!
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So, What is a Game?
Well, it can be “a form of play or sport, especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck.”
Games come in a huge variety of types. Every child plays games -- whether they have access to the latest computer games, board games, or a sidewalk, children have always played. Games and playing may look different now than in the past, but play has always been an important part of childhood. And that hasn't changed in over 500 years since the Tudor period in England!
Who played games in Tudor England?
Both children and adults played games and sports in the 1500’s and 1600’s in England. Some of their games may be familiar to you: hopscotch, tag, tennis, chess, and cards. Some may be new to you: stool ball, merels and skittles. Those with a lot of money could buy beautiful hand-made game boards and cards. Average citizens who worked on farms, on manor houses like Agecroft and in towns had less free time to play games and had to make many of their own gaming pieces and equipment. Only the king and his nobility could play tennis! Nevertheless, games and sports were a big part of life in Tudor England.
Why do people play games?
If you think about one of your favorite games, this question is easy to answer. Playing games is a wonderful way to spend your free time. Whether it is a game to play alone or with friends, it makes you happy – it is fun and relaxing! It is a challenge to use strategy to beat your opponent and satisfying when you win, right? Winning by chance, like when you use dice to make your next move, is also thrilling. These are the same reasons people played games 500 years ago in England.
In Tudor England, many games were used to educate children. Games of skill and battle helped children learn to use strategy. Games like chess and cards taught upper-class children the lessons of a hierarchical society- which people held the most power (king, queen) and which people had less (pawn). A Tudor child playing with a wooden doll learned about being a mother. Games today teach us lessons as well. We learn about the value of money in games like Monopoly and about chance when we play games with dice.
What games were popular for children in Tudor England?
Wealthy children played many of the same indoor parlor games their parents played. These included backgammon, chess, backgammon, cards, and riddles. Ordinary children played more outdoor games like tag, hoops, quoits (ring toss), blind man’s bluff (tag with the “it” person blindfolded), marbles, hop scotch, hide-and-seek and leapfrog. Popular board games were merels, fox and geese and game of the goose. Yo-yos and cup and ball toys were also popular with both groups. Ball games like stool ball and skittles were played out doors.
Where were these games played?
People with wealth played games in parlors, courtyards, and vestibules. Ordinary citizens played games inside their homes, in their yards and streets and in public green spaces.
When you visit Agecroft Hall, you are able to see all the different ways that people in England during the 16th and 17th century entertained themselves. In the Great Parlor you will see a chessboard or cards. These are games that the Dauntesey family would have played with their guests. Going upstairs, you may notice some children’s toys in one of the bedchambers. Many toys back then would have been made by hand. Outside on the back lawn, there is a lawn bowling green and a turf maze.
Even if you don't have the games below, there are ways to make them at home!
Check out this link for ideas
Then think about things you have around the house that can be used to recreate some of these Tudor games.