Croquet became a widespread social pastime in England during the 1860s.

A brief History of Croquet

The first croquet club in England was founded in 1865, the same year the game was immortalised in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. (Chapter 8 – The Queen’s Croquet Lawn)  Flamingos were among the Croquet game’s first competitors!

Its popularity was in no small measure due to it being the first sport that women could play on equal terms with men. In the UK, however, it was still not a game for the masses because one required a lawn. A large one.

The game quickly spread to Anglophone countries across the globe. During the 19th century, the game in America had taken on an image somewhat different from the genteel, cucumber sandwich stereotype in Britain.

There Croquet as public sport suffered a setback in the 1890s when the Boston clergy spoke out against the drinking, gambling, and licentious behaviour associated with it. (US Croquet Association)

All types of Americans played. In 1867 General George Custer wrote to his wife, Elizabeth, from his frontier fort in Kansas, asking her to bring a set of field croquet when she next visited. He perhaps should have confined himself to croquet battles and avoided entirely his final battle:  The Battle of The Little Big Horn!

The Game of Croquet

Croquet is popularly believed to be a civilized sport, but it can also be viciously competitive, employing sophisticated strategy, sometimes known as Croquet Combat. Civilized with Violence!  This may derive from the fact that, unlike in golf, players will often attempt to move their opponents’ balls to unfavourable positions. Purely negative play however is rarely successful, as players need to be strategic as with chess and bridge.

As engrossing as those two pastimes can be, with croquet there is the added enjoyment of playing outside, on grass, in sunshine.  The amount of physical exercise playing entails is deceptive, and it is beneficial too. In three hours one may walk four or five kilometres; this in addition to all the demands required for the skilled croquet strokes.

There are two forms of croquet, Association and Golf, with the latter being a simpler version. Golf Croquet has become the fastest-growing version of the game, owing largely to its simplicity and competitiveness. In comparison with Association Croquet, play is more rapid and balls are more likely to be lifted of the ground.

In the Golf format a ‘hoop’ is won by the first ball to go through it (in Association Croquet, there are additional turns for hitting other balls).  Every player takes a stroke in turn, each trying to hit a ball through the same hoop. The sequence of play is blue, red, black, yellow. Blue and black balls play against red and yellow. There is sequence of 13 hoops and when a hoop is won, the play continues on. as before. The winner of the game is the player or team who wins seven hoops first.

Multimillion Dollar Photograph of Billy the Kid, perhaps the most famous American outlaw, playing Croquet was a $2 Junk Shop Find.

Billy the Kid

The photograph, discovered in Fresno, California, is only the second confirmed picture of the infamous American outlaw – the other sold for $2.3 million in 2011. Billy the Kid, christened Henry McCarty, known also as William H. Bonney, was born in New York City. He was an outlaw and gunfighter who had killed eight men before his own death, in a gun fight, at the age of 21. He lived with a gun, and also it would seem, with a croquet mallet in his hand.

Taken after a wedding in the summer of 1878, the photo shows Billy the Kid along with several members of his posse, The Regulators, friends and family, playing croquet at a ranch in New Mexico.  Liz Larsson, from the UK Croquet Association, had little doubt about the game being played: It’s clearly Croquet. You can see the hoops the balls, the mallet, centre peg.  They’re all there.  It’s a fascinating picture. (The Guardian)

Here you can play croquet under the African Sun and Sky!

In conclusion and, as mentioned earlier, Croquet is unique in that it is a level playing field for Women to do civilized battles with Men and for people that are not so young anymore!  And one can be a highly respected Citizen or a renowned Outlaw. We are pleased to announce at this time that significant Sponsors and Donations are happening!  Anyone wanting to be supportive and a part of this very special project for Greyton would be most welcome!  The GCCC warmly invites Croquet Players from all over the World to have Croquet Vacations in the World Class village of Greyton.