prisoners' Base

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A territorial game between two teams demanding agility and skill in running, noted by Joseph Strutt as a ‘rustic game…much practised in former times’, and still extant at the beginning of the 19th century (The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England, 1801). It was prohibited on the avenues in the vicinity of the palace at Westminster in the reign of Edward III (1312–77), but survived as a chasing and touching game between equally matched sides. Strutt himself recalled a ‘grand match at base’ in the fields behind what is now the British Museum (in London) around 1770, with twelve-a-side teams of men from Cheshire and Derbyshire, much wagering, and a large and entertained crowd.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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