The History of Modern Day Lawn Bowling
A Royal Fascination
Whatever the achievements of Drake and Howard in routing Phillip 11s Armada they, like all the bowlers at that time, were openly flouting the law of the land. No doubt they would have been forgiven by a grateful Monarch but commoners were still braving fines and imprisonment in pursuit of their favourite pastime.
While the game remained one of ill repute, a true pot house recreation as it was termed, it continued to hold fascination for Royalty. That doomed Monarch Charles the 1st was an enthusiastic bowler but, by all accounts, not a lucky one. One of his favourite greens was at Barking Hall in Essex, the estate of Richard Shute, a turkey merchant, where playing for large stakes was clearly the order of the day. Following a particularly unfortunate run of games Charles found himself £1000 in debt to Shute who suggested that one more game may see the King?s fortune change for the better: ?No Shute?, replied Charles, ?thou hast won the day, and much good may it do thee; but I must remember I have a wife and children?.
His love of the game survived his misfortunes and led to him having a green laid at Spring Gardens (Charing Cross) and during the time of his imprisonment at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight, he passed much of his time on a green constructed within the ramparts.
The love of the game that Charles had was to bring tragedy to his life when his daughter Princess Elizabeth, died from an illness after playing in the pouring rain at Carisbrooke Castle.
Charles love of the game was commemorated on an Inn sign at Collins End, near Goring in Oxfordshire, where he occasionally bowled. The sign carried his portrait and a verse, which reads:
Stop traveller, stop! In yonder peaceful glade. His favourite game the royal martyr played: Here, stripped of honours, freedom, rank. Drank from the bowl, and bowl?d for what he drank: Sought in a cheerful glass his cares to drown and changed his guinea ere he lost his Crown.
Charles II lays down the law!