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Wiltshire Community History

Wiltshire History Questions Search Results

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Question Date :

Sunday 2nd March 2014 20:39

Question:
I am the Education & Research Officer for Stoolball England and have come across a reference on your website (
http://history.wiltshire.gov.uk/community/getcom2.php?id=201 ) to stoolball being played in Sherston in 1630. The game will have been stoolball in its original form, not as we play it now, but I'm interested to know what the document or record it is that mentions the game being played. We are trying to gather a record of where stoolball has been played and it would be very interesting to be able to reference the document on our timeline. If you have knowledge of any other mentions of stoolball we'd be very glad to hear about them.
Many thanks in advance for your help,

Answer:
Stoolball was played in the 17th century in the area where the three counties of Wiltshire, Somerset, and Gloucestershire join. Writing in the mid-17th century John Aubrey (The Natural History of Wiltshire, edited and elucidated by notes by John Britton, 1847) says;

"Stoball-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 covers with soale leather, with a staff, commonly made of withy, about 3 [feet] and a halfe long. Colerne-downe is the place so famous and so frequented for stoball 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 stoball ball is of about four inches diameter, and as hard as a stone. I do not hear that this game is used anywhere in England but in this part of Wiltshire and Gloucestershire adjoining."

The rock at Sherston is also quite near the surface and gave the village its name in Saxon times. The reference play at Sherston is in the records of the Quarter Sessions and was published by Cunnington in book of interesting extracts from these records for the 17th century.

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