Stoolball is a sport that dates back to at least the 15th century, originating in Sussex, southern England. It may be an ancestor of cricket (a game it resembles), baseball, and rounders, in fact stoolball is sometimes called "cricket in the air". There is a tradition that it was played by milkmaids who used their milking stools as a "wicket" and the bittle, or milk bowl as a bat. Hence its archaic name of bittle-battle.[1]

The sport of stoolball is strongly associated with Sussex; it has been referred to as Sussex's 'national' sport[2] and a Sussex game[3] or pastime.[4] The National Stoolball Association was formed in 1979 to promote and expand stoolball.[5] The game was officially recognised as a sport by the Sports Council in early 2008.[6] The National Stoolball Association changed its name to Stoolball England in 2010 on the advice of the Sports Council and was recognised as the national governing body for stoolball in England in 2011.

The game's popularity has faded since the 1960s, but continues to be played at a local league level in Sussex, Kent, Surrey and the Midlands. Some variants are played in some schools. Teams can be ladies only or mixed. There are ladies' leagues in Sussex, Surrey and Kent and mixed leagues in Sussex.


Medieval and Tudor references

ALPP - Stool-Ball
1767 Illustration of Stoolball in the children's book A Little Pretty Pocket-Book

Stoolball is attested by name as early as 1450. Nearly all medieval references describe it as a game played during Easter celebrations, typically as a courtship pastime rather than a competitive game. The game's associations with romance remained strong into the modern period. Written by William Shakespeare and the Sussex-born playwright John Fletcher, the comedy, The Two Noble Kinsmen used the phrase "playing stool ball" as a euphemism for sexual behaviour.[7][8]

Early competitions and establishment of codes

Stoolball makes an appearance in the dictionary of Samuel Johnson, where it is defined as a game played by driving a ball from stool to stool.

Stoolball seems to have been one of the earliest sports in which women participated. Activities for women before about 1870 were recreational rather than sport-specific in nature. They were typically non-competitive, informal, rule-less; they emphasised physical activity rather than competition.[9] In contrast, stoolball allowed women to participate in competitive sport.

A “fine match of stoolball” is recorded as having been played in June 1747 by a total of 28 women at Warbleton.[10] The first inter-county stoolball match took place between the women of Sussex and Kent in 1797 at Tunbridge Wells Common on the historic border between the two counties.[11] Sussex women wore blue ribbons to represent the county while the women of Kent wore pink ribbons.[11]

Andrew Lusted argues that between 1866 and 1887 the Glynde Butterflies stoolball team were the first women in England to be considered sports stars.[10] In 1866 the first recorded stoolball match took place between teams of named women representing villages as the Glynde Butterflies took on the Firle Blues.[12] Other teams included the Chailey Grasshoppers, Selmeston Harvest Bugs, Waldron Bees, Eastbourne Seagulls, Danny Daisies and Westmeston.[10]

The sport's modern rules were codified at Glynde in 1881 where the two slightly different sets of rules in the east and the west of Sussex were brought together.[13] In 1867 the rules in the east of the county were compiled by the Rev William de St Croix, the vicar of Glynde, and were the first rules to be established.[10]

20th century revival

A Sussex Stoolball League was established in 1903.[14] Initially played by women only, men joined in shortly afterwards.[15] Modern stoolball is centred on Sussex where the game was revived in the early 20th century by Major William Grantham.[16][17] Grantham wore a traditional Sussex round frock and beaver hat to stoolball games.[5] In 1917, Sussex County Cricket Ground in Hove hosted a match between young men who had lost one arm in First World War action at a temporary hospital in Brighton's Royal Pavilion, “damaged by wounds”, and a team of older lawyers, “damaged by age”.[5] The soldiers won and were deemed to be 'heroes'.[5] In 1919 a demonstration match was held at Lord's and the game was also played near the trenches of the battlefields of the First World War.[18][19]

First played in 1923, the League Championship Challenge Cup is open to the winning teams of the five leagues of the Sussex County Stoolball Association - North, East, West, Mid and Central.[20] By the 1930s stoolball was being played in the Midlands and the north of England.[21] Since 1938 Sussex and Kent have competed annually for the Rose Bowl, which was presented to Sussex by Major William Grantham. This is sometimes a team representing Sussex and sometimes one of Sussex's five leagues may represent the county against Kent.[11] Grantham founded the Stoolball Association of Great Britain at Lord's in 1923.[22] By 1927 over 1,000 clubs were playing stoolball across England, however in 1942 the Stoolball Association of Great Britain ceased to function. The National Stoolball Association was founded on 3 October 1979 at Clair Hall in Haywards Heath attended by 23 people from nine different leagues. On the advice of the Sports Council the governing body was renamed Stoolball England in 2010.[5]

In the early 20th century stoolball was also played outside England, including in France, Japan and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).[23]

Description and rules

Stoolball is played on grass with a 90-yard (82-metre) diameter boundary, and the pitch is 16 yards (15 metres) long. Each team consists of 11 players, with one team fielding and the other batting. Bowling is underarm from a bowling "crease" 10 yards (9.1 metres) from the batsman's wicket, with the ball reaching the batsman on the full as in rounders or baseball rather than bouncing from the pitch as in cricket. Each over consists of 8 balls. The "wicket" itself is a square piece of wood at head or shoulder height fastened to a post. Traditionally this was the seat of a stool hung from a post or tree; some versions used a tall stool placed upright on the ground.

As it is played today, a bowler attempts to hit the wicket with the ball, and a batsman defends it using a bat shaped like a frying pan. The batsman scores "runs" by running between the wickets or hitting the ball beyond the boundary in a similar way to cricket. A ball hit over the boundary counts for 4 runs if it has hit the ground before reaching the boundary, or 6 runs if it landed beyond the boundary upon first contact with the ground. Fielders attempt to catch the ball or run out the batsman by hitting the wicket with the ball before the batsman returns from his run.

Originally the batsman simply had to defend his stool from each ball with his hand and would score a point for each delivery until the stool was hit. The game later evolved to include runs and bats.

Confusion with the game of Stoball

According to Alice Gomme, the earliest references show that the game was called Stobball or Stoball,[24] and was a game peculiar to North Wiltshire, North Gloucestershire, and a little part of Somerset, near Bath: but although 17th century antiquarian John Aubrey describes a game called "stobball", played in this area, his description of it does not sound like stoolball,[25] and another contemporary text from the same region characterises "stoball" as a game played mainly by men and boys.[26] The Oxford English Dictionary considers it unlikely that "stool ball" could have been corrupted into "stobball".[27]

See also


  1. ^ History And Antiquities Of Horsham, Doreathea E. Hurst, Farncombe & Co, Lewes, Sussex 2nd Ed (1889) page 257
  2. ^ Coates 2010, p. 79
  3. ^ Gomme 1894, p. 219
  4. ^ Locke 2011, p. 203
  5. ^ a b c d e "History of Stoolball England". United Kingdom: Stoolball England. Archived from the original on 2012-05-03. Retrieved 2013-03-20. Stoolball England was formed as the National Stoolball Association on 3 October 1979. ... The aims laid down in the inaugural meeting of the National Stoolball Association in 1979 [included]: The promotion and expansion of stoolball; To seek to link together existing associations and to encourage the formation of others.
  6. ^ "Medieval game gets sport status". BBC News. 31 March 2008. Retrieved March 28, 2009.
  7. ^ Block, David (2006). Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0-8032-6255-3.
  8. ^ Tony Collins, John Martin & Wray Vamplew, eds. (2005). The Encyclopedia of traditional British Rural Sports. Routledge Sports Reference. ISBN 978-0-415-35224-6.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  9. ^ Bell, Richard. "A History of Women in Sport Prior to Title IX". The Sport Journal. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d "The much-loved Sussex sport of stoolball". Sussex Express. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  11. ^ a b c "Matterface Cup and Veterans Cup 2008". 28 July 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  12. ^ "The Glynde Butterflies 1866-1887". Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  13. ^ Collins 2005, p. 251
  14. ^ Locke 2011, p. 203
  15. ^ Locke 2011, p. 203
  16. ^ Locke 2011, p. 203
  17. ^ Nauright 2012, p. 194
  18. ^ Collins 2005, p. 252
  19. ^ Locke 2011, p. 203
  20. ^ "Sussex County Stoolball Association League Championship, 2014 Season". Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  21. ^ Locke 2011, p. 203
  22. ^ Collins 2005, p. 252
  23. ^ Russell=Goggs, M.S. "Stoolball in Sussex, by M S Russell-Goggs". Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  24. ^ Gomme, Alice Bertha (1894). The traditional games of England, Scotland, and Ireland: with tunes, singing-rhymes, and methods of playing according to the variants extant and recorded in different parts of the Kingdom. David Nutt (publisher), London. Archived by on June 26, 2007 and viewable here
  25. ^ "Stobball-play is peculiar to North Wilts, North Gloucestershire, and a little part of Somerset near Bath. They smite a ball, stuffed very hard with quills and covered with soale leather, with a staffe, commonly made of withy, about 3 [feet] and a halfe long... A stobball-ball is of about four inches diameter, and as hard as a stone."
  26. ^ From a Berkeley manuscript of c.1641:"The large and levell the vale of this hundred..doe witnes the inbred delight, that both gentry, yeomanry, rascallity, boyes and children, doe take in a game called Stoball... And not a sonne of mine, but at 7. was furnished with his double stoball staves, and a gamster therafter." John Smyth, The Berkeley manuscripts: the lives of the Berkeleys, lords of the honour, castle and manor of Berkeley in the county of Gloucester from 1066 to 1618...: printed for subscribers by John Bellows, Gloucester, 1883–1885.
  27. ^ It suggests instead an etymology of the latter word from "stob" + ball, where "stob" means a stump or stub of wood, and refers to the club used to play the game."† stow-ball, n.". OED Online. September 2012. Oxford University Press. 21 September 2012 <>.


  • Coates, Richard (2010). The Traditional Dialect of Sussex. Pomegranate Press. ISBN 978-1-907242-09-0.
  • Collins, Tony (ed) (2005). Encyclopedia of Traditional British Rural Sports. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415352246.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  • Gomme, Alice Bertha (1894). The traditional games of England, Scotland and Ireland : with tunes, singing rhymes and methods of playing according to the variants extant and recorded in different parts of the kingdom. London: David Nutt.
  • Locke, Tim (2011). Slow Sussex and the South Downs. Buckinghamshire: Bradt Travel Guides. ISBN 9781841623436.
  • Nauright, John (2012). Sports Around the World: History, Culture, and Practice. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1598843002.

External links

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Baseball in South Korea

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Baseball in Spain

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Bat-and-ball games

Bat-ballgames (or safe haven games to avoid being confused with club games such as golf and hockey) are field games played by two opposing teams. The teams alternate between "batting" (offensive) roles, sometimes called "in at bat", and "out in the field" (defensive), or simply in and out. Only the batting team may score, but teams have equal opportunities in both roles. The game is counted rather than timed.

A player on the fielding (defensive) team puts the ball in play with a delivery whose restriction depends on the game. A player on the batting team attempts to strike the delivered ball, commonly with a "bat", which is a club governed by the rules of the game. After striking the ball, the batter may become a runner trying to reach a safe haven or "base". While in contact with a base, the runner is safe from the fielding team and in a position to score runs. Leaving a safe haven places the runner in danger of being put out. The teams switch roles when the fielding team puts the batting team out, which varies by game.

In modern baseball the fielders put three players out; in cricket they retire all players but one. Some games permit multiple runners and some have multiple bases to run in sequence. Batting may occur, and running begin, at one of the bases. The movement between those "safe havens" is governed by the rules of the particular sport.


Bolney is a village and civil parish in the Mid Sussex district of West Sussex, England. It lies 36 miles (58 km) south of London, 11 miles (18 km) north of Brighton, and 27 miles (43 km) east northeast of the county town of Chichester, near the junction of the A23 road with the A272 road. The parish has a land area of 1479.41 hectares (3654 acres). In the 2001 census there were 1209 people living in 455 households of whom 576 were economically active. At the 2011 Census the population had increased to 1,366. Nearby towns include Burgess Hill to the southeast and Haywards Heath to the east.

The majority of the village sits between the A23 to the east, and the A272 to the south and consists of a main north/south road called The Street and towards the top of the village by Top Street, Cherry Lane and Ryecroft cutting east/west. Outside of this area the village extends south of the A272 down Bolney Chapel Road and to the East of the A23 in Crossways. The Bolney crossroads of the A23 and A272 has always been an accident black spot, and even with the building of the A23 flyover the area still has a high level of accidents and incidents on its stretch of the A23

History of cricket to 1725

The earliest definite reference to cricket is dated Monday, 17 January 1597 (i.e., an "Old Style" Julian date which is 1598 by modern reckoning under the Gregorian calendar). It is a deposition in the records of a legal case at Guildford, Surrey, re the use of a parcel of land c.1550 and John Derrick, a coroner, testified that he had at that time played cricket on the land when he was a boy. Derrick's testimony makes clear that the sport was being played c.1550, but its true origin is a mystery. All that can be said with a fair degree of certainty is that its beginning was earlier than 1550, somewhere in south-east England within the counties of Kent, Sussex and Surrey. Unlike other games with batsmen, bowlers and fielders, such as stoolball and rounders, cricket can only be played on relatively short grass, especially as the ball was delivered along the ground until the 1760s. Therefore, forest clearings and land where sheep had grazed would have been suitable places to play.

Cricket was being played in the south-east of England by 1598. The sparse information available about the early years suggests that it may have been a children's game in the 16th century but, by 1611, it had become an adult pastime. The earliest known organised match was played circa 1611, a year in which other significant references to the sport are dated. From 1611 to 1725, fewer than thirty matches are known to have been organised between recognised teams. Similarly, only a limited number of players, teams and venues of the period have been recorded. The earliest matches played by English parish teams are examples of village cricket. Although village matches are now considered minor in status, the early matches are significant in cricket's history simply because they are known. There were no newspaper reports of matches until the end of the seventeenth century and so the primary sources are court records and private diaries, hence games were rarely recorded.

During the reign of Charles I, the gentry took an increased interest as patrons and occasionally as players. A big attraction for them was the opportunity that the game offered for gambling and this escalated in the years following the Restoration when cricket in London and the south-eastern counties of England evolved into a popular social activity. The patrons staged lucrative eleven-a-side matches featuring the earliest professional players. Meanwhile, English colonists had introduced cricket to North America and the West Indies, and the sailors and traders of the East India Company had taken it to the Indian subcontinent.

In the first quarter of the 18th century, more information about cricket became available as the growing newspaper industry took an interest. The sport noticeably began to spread throughout England as the century went on. By 1725, significant patrons such as Edwin Stead, Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond and Sir William Gage were forming teams of county strength in Kent and Sussex. The earliest known great players, including William Bedle and Thomas Waymark, were active. Cricket was attracting large, vociferous crowds and the matches were social occasions at which gambling and alcoholic drinks were additional attractions.

Kingston near Lewes

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In 2005 kī-o-rahi was chosen to represent New Zealand by global fast-food chain McDonald's as part of its 'Passport to Play' programme to teach physical play activities in 31,000 American schools.

The programme will give instruction in 15 ethnic games to seven million primary school children.The New Zealand kī-o-rahi representative organisation, Kī-o-Rahi Akotanga Iho, formed with men's and women's national teams, completed a 14 match tour of Europe in September and October 2010. The men's team included 22-test All Black veteran Wayne Shelford who led the team to a 57–10 test win against Kī-o-Rahi Dieppe Organisation, the French Kī-o-Rahi federation.

Shelford's kī-o-rahi test jersey made him the first kī-o-rahi/rugby double international for NZ. The women's team coached by Andrea Cameron (Head of PE at Tikipunga High School) also won by 33–0. These were the first historic test matches between NZ and France.

National Association of Professional Base Ball Players

The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NAPBBP), or known simply as the National Association (NA), was founded in 1871 and continued through the 1875 season. It succeeded and incorporated several professional clubs from the previous National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP) of 1857-1870, sometimes called "the amateur association"; in turn several of its clubs created the succeeding National League of Professional Baseball Clubs. Later shortened simply to be called the National League, it was founded 1876, the earliest one half of modern Major League Baseball (MLB) in America, with the later competing American League of Professional Base Ball Clubs in 1901, known too as the American League.

Origins of baseball

The question of the origins of baseball has been the subject of debate and controversy for more than a century. Baseball and the other modern bat, ball, and running games, cricket and rounders, were developed from folk games in early Britain and Continental Europe (such as France and Germany). Early forms of baseball had a number of names, including "base ball", "goal ball", "round ball", "fetch-catch", "stool ball", and, simply, "base". In at least one version of the game, teams pitched to themselves, runners went around the bases in the opposite direction of today's game, and players could be put out by being hit with the ball. Just as now, in some versions a batter was called out after three strikes.

Oxfordshire County Cricket Club

Oxfordshire County Cricket Club is one of twenty minor county clubs within the domestic cricket structure of England and Wales. It represents the historic county of Oxfordshire.

The team is currently a member of the Minor Counties Championship Western Division and plays in the MCCA Knockout Trophy. Oxfordshire played List A matches occasionally from 1967 until 2004 but is not classified as a List A team per se.


Rounders (Irish: cluiche corr) is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams. Rounders is a striking and fielding team game that involves hitting a small, hard, leather-cased ball with a rounded end wooden, plastic or metal bat. The players score by running around the four bases on the field.Played in England since Tudor times, it is referenced in 1744 in the children's book A Little Pretty Pocket-Book where it was called Base-Ball. The game is popular among British and Irish school children, particularly among girls. As of 2015 it is played by seven million children in the UK.Gameplay centres on a number of innings, in which teams alternate at batting and fielding. Points (known as 'rounders') are scored by the batting team when one of their players completes a circuit past four bases without being put 'out'. The batter must strike at a good ball and attempt to run a rounder in an anti-clockwise direction around the first, second, and third base and home to the fourth, though they may stay at any of the first three. A batter is out if the ball is caught; if the base to which they are running to is touched with the ball; or if, while running, they are touched with the ball by a fielder.

Sport and Recreation Alliance

The Sport and Recreation Alliance, formerly known as the Central Council of Physical Recreation, is the representative body for national sports organisations in the United Kingdom.

The Sport and Recreation Alliance is the main body for sport and recreation in the UK. It represents over 320 member organisations.

The organisation speaks and acts to promote, protect and develop the interests of sport and physical recreation at all levels. It is completely independent of any form of government control, has no responsibility for allocating funds, is strictly non-party and will support or oppose proposed measures only on the basis of their perceived value to sport and recreation

Its members range from large national governing bodies of sport such as the Football Association and the Rugby Football Union to smaller members such as stoolball or kitesurfing. The members are divided by activity type into one of six divisions, covering Major Spectator Sports, Outdoor Pursuits, Movement and Dance, Water Recreation and Interested Organisations. Recently the Sport and Recreation Alliance opened its membership to County Sports Partnerships.

The Sport and Recreation Alliance offers a range of services including advocacy on issues such as excessive bureaucracy in the governance of sport, access rights and events.

The Central Council of Physical Recreation (CCPR), formerly the Central Council of Physical Recreative Training was established in 1935. The need and vision for such a body was seen by its founder Phyllis Colson "great woman who left an ineradicable mark upon the development of physical recreation in this country". This umbrella body brought together the many assorted sports bodies together with youth organisations, education authorities and industrial firms in pooling their knowledge experience and resources in providing every youngster with a chance to take part in enjoyable and health-giving physical activity.

During WW2 the alliance employed Eileen Fowler to improve the fitness of workers as she toured across the country conducting group physical training. After the war and Fowler's marriage the Central Council of Physical Recreation again employed her and this resulted in 200 women providing a show at an F.A. Cup final. Fowler was to go on to lead keep fit activities on BBC TV and radio.In 1950, together with the Ski Club of Great Britain and the Oslo Ski Association, the central council organised the London Ski jumping competition 1950.

Sport in Sussex

Sport in Sussex forms an important part of the culture of Sussex. With a centuries-long tradition of sport, Sussex has played a key role in the early development of both cricket and stoolball. Cricket is recognised as having been formed in the Weald and Sussex CCC is England's oldest county cricket club. Slindon Cricket Club dominated the sport for a while in the 18th century. The cricket ground at Arundel Castle traditionally plays host to a Duchess of Norfolk's XI which plays the national test sides touring England. The sport of stoolball is also associated with Sussex, which has a claim to be where the sport originated and certainly where its revival took place in the early 20th century. Sussex is represented in the Premier League by Brighton & Hove Albion and in the Football League by Crawley Town. Brighton has been in the Premier League since 2017 and has been a League member since 1920, whereas Crawley was promoted to the League in 2011. Brighton & Hove Albion W.F.C. play in the FA Women's Super League from 2017. Sussex has had its own football association, since 1882 and its own football league, which has since expanded into Surrey, since 1920. In horse racing, Sussex is home to Goodwood, Fontwell Park, Brighton and Plumpton. The All England Jumping Course show jumping facility at Hickstead is situated 8 miles (13 km) north of Brighton and Hove.

Active Sussex is the county sports partnership for Sussex and its main aim is to increase participation in sport and physical activity at a local level.


Sussex (), from the Old English Sūþsēaxe (South Saxons), is a historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded to the west by Hampshire, north by Surrey, northeast by Kent, south by the English Channel, and divided for many purposes into the ceremonial counties of West Sussex and East Sussex. Brighton and Hove, though part of East Sussex, was made a unitary authority in 1997, and as such, is administered independently of the rest of East Sussex. Brighton and Hove was granted City status in 2000. Until then, Chichester was Sussex's only city.

Sussex has three main geographic sub-regions, each oriented approximately east to west. In the southwest is the fertile and densely populated coastal plain. North of this are the rolling chalk hills of the South Downs, beyond which is the well-wooded Sussex Weald.

The name derives from the Kingdom of Sussex, which was founded, according to legend, by Ælle of Sussex in AD 477. Around 827, it was absorbed into the kingdom of Wessex and subsequently into the kingdom of England. It was the home of some of Europe's earliest recorded hominids, whose remains have been found at Boxgrove. It was invaded by the Romans and is the site of the Battle of Hastings.

In 1974, the Lord-Lieutenant of Sussex was replaced with one each for East and West Sussex, which became separate ceremonial counties. Sussex continues to be recognised as a geographical territory and cultural region. It has had a single police force since 1968 and its name is in common use in the media. In 2007, Sussex Day was created to celebrate the county's rich culture and history. Based on the traditional emblem of Sussex, a blue shield with six gold martlets, the flag of Sussex was recognised by the Flag Institute in 2011. In 2013, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles formally recognised and acknowledged the continued existence of England's 39 historic counties, including Sussex.

Sussex Day

Sussex Day is the county day for the historic county of Sussex in southern England and is celebrated on 16 June each year to celebrate the rich heritage and culture of Sussex.The event takes place on St Richard's Day, the feast day of St Richard of Chichester, Sussex's patron saint. The date marks the anniversary of the translation of St Richard's body from its original burial place in the nave of Chichester Cathedral to an elaborate shrine at the Cathedral on 16 June 1276.

Symbols of Sussex

Symbols of Sussex are flags, icons or cultural expressions that are emblematic, representative or otherwise characteristic of Sussex or Sussex culture. As a rule, these symbols are cultural icons that have emerged from Sussex folklore and tradition, meaning few have any official status. However, most if not all maintain recognition at a county or national level, and some, such as the emblem of Sussex, have been codified in heraldry, and are established, official and recognised symbols of Sussex.


Vigoro is a team sport, played mainly by women in Australia, that originally combined elements of cricket and tennis, although in its current form it may be more similar to cricket and baseball.

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