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Hunt the Slipper


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A very popular parlour game, particularly at Victorian family Christmas parties. Oliver Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield (1766), chapter 11) provides a lively description:the company at this play plant themselves in a ring upon the ground, all except one, whose business it is to catch a shoe, which the company shove about under their hams from one to another, something like a weaver's shuttle. As it is impossible, in this case, for the lady who is up to face all the company at once, the great beauty of the play lies in hitting her a thump with the heel of the shoe on that side least capable of making a defence.

the company at this play plant themselves in a ring upon the ground, all except one, whose business it is to catch a shoe, which the company shove about under their hams from one to another, something like a weaver's shuttle. As it is impossible, in this case, for the lady who is up to face all the company at once, the great beauty of the play lies in hitting her a thump with the heel of the shoe on that side least capable of making a defence.

Versions included in Gomme, played by children, involve some play-acting by the seated cobblers pretending to mend shoes and a dialogue between them and the chaser, including a rhyme on the lines of: ‘Cobbler, cobbler, mend my shoe, Get it done by half-past two’.

Gomme, 1894: i. 241–2;Strutt, 1801/1876: 387.


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