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Victorian Games and Toys

Whatever did children and adults do for play and to fill leisure time before television, computers, cell phones, and video games?

Was it boring to live in Victorian Britain, with nothing to do but sit around the house all day?

Inside Fun

The Victorians were quite creative when it came to play time. Not just children, but adults would participate in victorian games during the evenings.

Card games were especially popular with the grown-ups. Whist and Bridge would provide hours of after-dinner entertainment for the older set.

For both adults and youngsters, Skittles (on the order of bowling) and Charades, a Victorian game which is still played today, would be enjoyed by all generations.

Billiards grew in popularity. Although starting out as a 'manly' sport, both sexes were soon enjoying the game.

Antique Horse Tricycle

Blindman's Bluff was always guaranteed to bring a smile to a face, and could be quite tiring with people running away so as not to be caught.

On the quieter side, "I'm Thinking of Something" was quite similar to the game of "Twenty Questions", which is still played today.

For the Victorians, games like Checkers, Chess, Backgammon, and Cribbage were always easy to reach from the shelf.

Outdoor Fun

Introduced in the mid-1800's, Croquet was quite a gentile outdoor game for women. As it didn't require great strength, it was felt that this game was appropriate for 'the weaker sex'.

Ice Skating was an approved winter-time sport for ladies. In 1876, however, it was finally not necessary to wait for cold weather in which to skate. The first artificially refrigerated ice rink was crafted in Chelsea, London.

Horseback riding was often learned at an early age while some women went for grander outdoor exploits... mountain climbing! Imagine clambering around in a corset and bustle as was the style for Victorian clothes!

Victorian toys and games such as marbles were enjoyed by both boys and girls. Victorian marbles were usually made of glass or clay, although wealthier players had marbles made out of real marble!

Tops and Jacks were Victorian games and toys that could be played either in a group, or just solo.

The first rules for Badminton were written in India in 1873, and this game hasn't much changed. Formerly known as "Hit and Scream", this contest became quite the rage for people of all ages.

Field Sports

The Victorian game of cricket was organized for county championships in 1873. The bat which is used to this day was invented in 1853. During the Victorian period, cricket was very much a wealthy man's sport.

Vintage Marbles

The following year, the rules for lawn tennis were formalized and both men and women would play.

Clubs for golfers were set up in the later part of the 1800's. The bag to carry the utensils for golfers, the golf bag, came into being in 1880.

The Football Association was formed in 1863 - football was usually only played by men.

The Rugby Football Union was formed in 1871. Being one of the rougher Victorian games, 71 deaths were attributed to this team sport between the years of 1890 and 1893.

Rugby has some similarities to American football... while in Great Britain 'football' refers to the game which is called 'soccer' in the United States.

Leisure Time

Day trips to the seashore were mini-holidays which families would enjoy. Boarding the train to Blackpool, a resort which began with one ride in 1896, was to begin a day filled with fun.

Maintaining a scrapbook, filled with items of interest, would consume afternoon hours for both adults and children.

Playing the piano and holding impromptu concerts and dances were quite popular amongst families and their friends.

For the young ladies of the family, sewing or creating decorative embroidery kept idle hands busy, as well as the making of ornaments for Christmas.

For the Victorians, games, toys and physical activity could be set aside for a few unhurried hours of reading. Rudyard Kipling, Charles Dickens, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning were popular friends on bookshelves.

Article by "Tudor Rose"

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