but croquet was getting rather dull the Victorians were after a simpler
livelier game, one that could be played on a hot summer’s day by both sexes, one
that would get the blood moving in December 1873 there was a grand party
at a country house not far from here in North Wales the guests had hunting
shooting fishing feasts a huge dance and one of them a chap called Walter Clopton
Wingfield was so impressed that when he invented the new game he dedicated it to
the people who’d been at that party he applied for a patent to the following
year 1874 and his game came to be called lawn tennis. Croquet was no longer …
The rules that came with Wingfield’s tennis kits are quite unlike those of
today and the shape of the court was rather odd he’d planned a rectangular
court but in this diagram in the book he wanted to show the wind nets and so the
perspectives all wrong and it looks as if the baselines are meant to be longer
than the net well when people bought the kits they actually just looked at this
picture and they paid no attention at all to the written instructions. As a
result people made their tennis courts to this hourglass shape. The game proved
hugely popular. Within a year Wingfield sold a thousand nets complete with all
the necessary kit. Is this how the kit would have arrived? That’s right this is
one of Wingfield’s original boxes.. Original! This is the list of everything that’s
inside and all the contents contained inside would have cost the
princely sum of five guineas. Okay, so tell me what’s an obviously the subnet
you need a lot about. You do, rackets, this is one of the original rackets from
Wingfield’s game sort of very very small head and then it’s slightly twisted. Bent,
okay, and the balls? Right well that one’s that’s all that’s right it’s made from
India rubber which was invented around about the middle of the 19th century and it
was absolutely essential to Wingfield’s game right
prior to India rubber being invented most balls were solid like this one.
Right. Now, that wouldn’t bounce, would it? Not on grass. So, you
needed rubber? Exactly. So, what you’re saying is that without the lawnmower and
without rubber they couldn’t have had lawn tennis? Exactly.
How thrilling to be able to jump around and get hot and sweaty like this without
breaking any of the delicate rules of behaviour

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Dennis Veasley

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