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Old English Sports, Pastimes and Customs   By: (1854-1930)

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Old English Sports, Pastimes and Customs by Peter H. Ditchfield is a delightful journey through time that takes readers back to the lively world of traditional English activities. With meticulous attention to detail and great historical accuracy, the author transports us to a bygone era where sports, pastimes, and customs played a central role in the lives of the English people.

Ditchfield's thorough research is evident on every page, as he covers a wide range of topics from archaic sports like jousting and bear-baiting to more leisurely pursuits such as May Day celebrations and chess-playing. The author's passion for English history and culture shines through his writing, making this book an engaging and enlightening read for anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the past.

One of the book's strengths is its vivid descriptions of various sports and pastimes. Ditchfield's ability to bring these activities to life through his words is commendable. Readers can envision the excitement of a crowded medieval tournament, feel the thrill of a fox hunt, or imagine the merriment of a Christmas mumming play. The author's vivid imagery truly transports the reader to another time and place.

Moreover, Ditchfield's attention to detail is remarkable. He not only focuses on the popular and well-known customs and sports but also sheds light on obscure and forgotten traditions. This comprehensive approach gives readers a more encompassing view of the diverse customs that made up the fabric of English society throughout history. From quaint rural customs to bustling urban activities, this book offers a rich tapestry of Old English life.

Ditchfield's writing style is engaging and accessible, making it a book suitable for both history enthusiasts and casual readers with an interest in the subject matter. His narrative flows smoothly, interspersing anecdotal stories with insightful historical context. While the book is packed with information, it never feels overwhelming thanks to the author's skillful storytelling.

The inclusion of numerous illustrations and photographs adds another layer of appeal to the book. These visual aids not only complement the text but also provide readers with a visual understanding of the sports and pastimes described. The images bring the words to life and further enhance the immersive experience of stepping into the past.

Overall, Old English Sports, Pastimes and Customs is a captivating exploration of the diverse and vibrant culture of Old England. Peter H. Ditchfield's thorough research, engaging writing style, and attention to detail make this book a must-read for anyone interested in the history and customs of medieval and early modern England. Whether you are a scholar, a history buff, or simply curious about the everyday lives of our ancestors, this book will transport you to a fascinating time where sports and traditions were at the heart of English life.

First Page:


Pastimes and Customs



Fellow of the Royal Historical Society; Rector of Barkham, Berks Hon. Sec. of Berks Arch├Žological Society, etc.

First published by Methuen & Co., 1891





Encouraged by the kind reception which his former book, Our English Villages , met with at the hands of both critics and the public, the author has ventured to reproduce in book form another series of articles which have appeared during the past year in the pages of The Parish Magazine . He desires to express his thanks to Canon Erskine Clarke for kindly permitting him to reprint the articles, which have been expanded and in part rewritten. The Sports and Pastimes of England have had many chroniclers, both ancient and modern, amongst whom may be mentioned Strutt, Brand, Hone, Stow, and several others, to whose works the writer is indebted for much valuable information.

The object of this book is to describe, in simple language, the holiday festivals as they occurred in each month of the year; and the sports, games, pastimes, and customs associated with these rural feasts. It is hoped that such a description may not be without interest to our English villagers, and perhaps to others who love the study of the past... Continue reading book >>

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