History of Lawn Bowling

History of the game of Bowls, Lawn Bowling, Bowling on the Green, Flat Green Bowling.

The game is centuries old with similarities shown in sculpted cases from 4,000 years ago. Archeologists have uncovered biased stone bowls from 5,000 B.C. which could indicate that our predecessors could have enjoy the game some 7,000 years ago. In Caesar’s time the game was known as “bocce” and the Roman Legions may very well have introduced the game to Europe and the British Isles. By the 13th century the game had spread to throughout France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Germany and England. The oldest established bowling club in the world that is still active is the South Hampton Old Bowling Green Club in England, established in 1299 A.D. The game was so popular in England and France that the French King Charles IV in 1319 and King Edward III of England in 1361 prohibited the game from the common people. Archery was being neglected and it was a form of national defense.

Scotland embraced the game and they developed the current flat green game, developed the rules and basically saved the game. The game is regaled in their history and literature. We can thank the Scots for bringing the game around the world for where they went, so did the game. In Scotland they have approximately 900 lawn bowls clubs with about 65,000 players. Some clubs are now being covered to allow for year round play. Lawn Bowling is reported to be outdistancing golf as the national game of Scotland.

The game has been referred to as the “Sport of Kings”. From the time of Edward III, the game was restricted by royal decree to “Noblemen and other having manors or lands”. Successive kings played and enjoyed the game. Almost every English monarch was a bowler. There is a permanent green on the grounds of Windsor Castle. Men still play on the green at Plymouth Hoe where it is said that Sir Francis Drake and his captains were playing on the day in 1588 that he received word that the Spanish Armada was arriving. It is claimed that he said that there was time to finish the game before going out and defeating the armada, which they of course did.

The game is played around the world as it is one of the few outdoor games where size does not matter. Once the basics are learned, 8 year olds can complete with adults. Anyone who says this is an old persons game should go out and ply in the hot sun with Seniors. They will soon give the Seniors credit for their stamina.

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