The origins of croquet are steeped in conjecture being sometimes described as having evolved from Paille Maille, Lawn Bowling, Ground Billiards, Closh and similar such pursuits that can be traced to the 14th and 15th centuries.  There's even a suggestion that a game called Paganica - played by the ancient Romans - might be a precursor.  Whatever the justification for those claims however, contemporary thinking now generally accepts that croquet, in its modern format, is a descendent of a game called Crookey played in Ireland in the 1830s and brought across to England in the 1850s.


The interest shown towards croquet in England was spontaneous; it was one of the first outdoor games that could be played by women and men on an equal footing and, consequently, it grew considerably in popularity and stature.  This led, in the late 1800s, to the adoption of a set of standard rules and the subsequent organisation of various competitions under the aegis of the then newly formed Wimbledon All England Croquet Club - later to be renamed The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club.

 

Old picture of croquet player  
   

The growing popularity of the game at home also ensured its rapid geographic spread - with Australia, New Zealand and America being at the forefront of its take-up.


But croquet also had its detractors. It didn't take long for Victorian prudishness to rail against the game as an affront to public morals and decency for allowing young ladies and gentlemen to 'disappear together into the shrubbery in search of a missing croquet ball'.  The clergy also mounted the pulpit and denounced croquet in the typically God fearing language of the time and, not surprisingly, the game was banned in many parts of the country.


Fortunately, croquet survived this onslaught and later came to feature in the 1900 Olympics in Paris at which France swept the board with its haul of seven medals - including three gold.

Despite its place in Olympic history, interest in croquet waned between the war years.  Over the past 30 years however, it has enjoyed a strong renaissance - thanks largely to a new breed of young players who have moved the game forward - both competitively and internationally.

  Image of early C A publication
 
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