Bowls

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Bowls is a sport in which the objective is to roll slightly asymmetric balls, called bowls, so that they stop close to a smaller—normally white—bowl called the "jack" or "kitty". Bowls, either flat- or crown-green, is usually played outdoors, on grass and synthetic surfaces. Flat-green bowls can also be played indoors on synthetic surfaces. Both variants are collectively known as "lawn bowls".

Bowls belongs to the boules sport family, and so is related to bocce and pétanque. It is most popular in Australia, New Zealand (where the natural playing surface is cotula), the United Kingdom, and in other Commonwealth nations.

Contents

History

It has been traced certainly to the 13th century, and conjecturally to the 12th. William Fitzstephen (d. about 1190), in his biography of Thomas Becket, gives a graphic sketch of the London of his day and, writing of the summer amusements of the young men, says that on holidays they were "exercised in Leaping, Shooting, Wrestling, Casting of Stones [in jactu lapidum], and Throwing of Javelins fitted with Loops for the Purpose, which they strive to fling before the Mark; they also use Bucklers, like fighting Men." It is commonly supposed that by jactus lapidum, Fitzstephen meant the game of bowls, but though it is possible that round stones may sometimes have been employed in an early variety of the game - and there is a record of iron bowls being used, though at a much later date, on festive occasions at Nairn, - nevertheless the inference seems unwarranted. The jactus lapidum of which he speaks was probably more akin to the modern "putting the weight," once even called "putting the stone." It is beyond dispute, however, that the game, at any rate in a rudimentary form, was played in the 13th century. A manuscript of that period in the royal library, Windsor (No. 20, E iv.), contains a drawing representing two players aiming at a small cone instead of an earthenware ball or jack. The world's oldest surviving bowling green is the Southampton Old Bowling Green, which was first used in 1299.[1]

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