Blood Sweat and Gambling: Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum's Sport in Georgian England

By Ben Miller | 03 August 2012
An image of an illustration of two Georgian men facing each other in an outdoor ring
© Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum
Exhibition: Blood Sweat and Gambling: Sport in Georgian England., Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, Lichfield, until September 2 2012

Georgian times proved revolutionary for sport in England. Parochial folk games exclusive to religious holidays and fetes became highly organised, increasingly professional disciplines with rules, regulations, sporting institutions and, with some mercy, the gradual disappearance of blood sports.

Gentler times make for a gentler exhibition, with indoor skittles, battledore and shuttlecock joined by versions of horseracing and fishing from the 18th century entertainments of the museum’s forefather.

The celebrities involved include Billy the Dog (“the most amazing rodent catcher of his day”), and the exhibits feature a football from Derbyshire’s bygone Royal Shrovetide matches.

Dressing up costumes, colouring and a cat hunt are among the activities taking place throughout the holidays.

  • Open 10.30am-4.30pm. Admission free. Arts and craft activities for children every Thursday in August, 10.30am-1.30pm (£2).
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