The Traditional Children's Games of England Scotland
& Ireland In Dictionary Form - Volume 2

With Tunes(sheet music), Singing-rhymes(lyrics), Methods Of Playing with diagrams and illustrations.

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8o                               PRISONER'S BASE
Also in the tragedy of Hoffman, 1632—
"I'll run a little course At base, or barley-brake." Again, in the Antipodes, 1638—
"My men can runne at base." Also, in the thirtieth song of Drayton's " Polyolbion '"— "At hood-wink, barley-brake, at tick, or prison-base." Again, in Spenser's "Faerie Queen," v. 8—
" So ran they all as they had been at bace."
Strutt (Sports and Pastimes, p. 78), says, " This game was much practised in former times. The first mention of this sport that I have met with occurs in the Proclamations at the head of the Parliamentary proceedings, early in the reign of Edward III., where it is spoken of as a childish amusement; and prohibited to be played in the avenues of the palace at Westminster during the Sessions of Parliament, because of the interruption it occasioned to the members and others in passing to and fro. . . . The performance of this pastime requires two parties of equal number, each of them having a base or home, as it is usually called to themselves, at the distance of about twenty or thirty yards. The players then on either side taking hold of hands extend themselves in length and opposite to each other, as far as they conveniently can, always remembering that one of them must touch the base; when any one of them quits the hand of his fellow and runs into the field, which is called giving the chase, he is im­mediately followed by a second from the former side, and he by a second opponent; and so on alternately, until as many are out as choose to run, every one pursuing the man he first followed and no other; and if he overtake him near enough to touch him, his party claims one toward their game, and both return home. Then they run forth again and again in like manner, until the number is completed that decides the victory ; this number is optional. It is to be observed that every person on either side who touches another during the chase, claims one for his party."
Strutt describes the game in Essex as follows :—" They play

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