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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Mr. Kinahan, who describes this game, adds a very instruc­tive note, which is worth quoting:—
"These games I have seen played over half a century ago, with a lob-stick, but of later years with a ball, long before a cricket club existed, in Trinity College, Dublin, and when the game was quite unknown in a great part of Ireland. At the same time, they may have been introduced by some of the earlier settlers, and afterwards degenerated into the games mentioned above ; but I would be inclined to suspect that the Irish are the primitive games, they having since been improved into cricket. At the present day these games nearly every­where are succeeded by cricket, but often of a very primitive form, the wickets being stones set on end, or a pillar of stones; while the ball is often wooden, and very rudely formed."
The first mention of this game is by Smyth in his Berkeley Manuscripts. In the reign of Elizabeth, the Earl of Leicester, with an extraordinary number of attendants and multitudes of country people, and "whom my neighbours parallel to Bartholomew faire in London, came to Wotton, and thence to Michaelwood Lodge, castinge down part of the pales, which like a little park then enclosed the Lodge (for the gates were too narrow to let in his Trayne), and thence went to Wotton Hill, where hee plaid a match at stoball."—Gloucestershire County Folk-lore, p. 26.
The earliest description of the game, however, is by Aubrey. He says " it 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 three feet and a half long. Colerne down is the place so famous and so frequented for stobball playing. The turfe is very fine and the rock (free­stone) is within an inch and a halfe of the surface which gives the ball so quick a rebound. A stobball ball is of about four inches diameter and as hard as a stone. I do not heare that this game is used anywhere in England but in this part of Wiltshire and Gloucestershire adjoining." (Aubrey's Natural

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