Banwell Bowling Club

The Pond,Banwell,
Somerset. UK

Welcome - Lshaped Green - History of Bowls - Honours - Latest News - Fixtures - Links
League news - Friendly Matches - Internal Comp - Umbrella Comp - Contact Us - Sponsors - Charity Day


A Brief History of Bowls
Lawn bowls, also known as lawn bowling or bowling on the green, is considered a quintessentially English sport. However, it probably originated in France. It may even have been brought over by the conquering Normans in 1066 or shortly thereafter, though there's no documentary evidence that this is true.Like Italy's bocce and Provencal's petanque, lawn bowling originated in a game played by Roman soldiers, in which stones were tossed toward a target stone with the object of getting as close to the target as possible. Roman legions introduced the game to countries throughout their empire.
Francis Drake plays bowls on Plymouth Hoe
Over time, the stones were replaced by balls that were usually rolled, rather than thrown. In France, the sport became known as boules, from the Latin word for ball, and the English world "bowl" came from that French root. The oldest known bowling green, in Southampton, England, dates at least to 1299, although other greens claim to be older. Henry VIII, himself a bowler, in 1511 banned the sport among the lower classes and levied a fee of 100 pounds on any private bowling green to ensure that only the wealthy could play.
Sir Francis Drake

Legend has it that Sir Francis Drake was playing bowls on Plymouth Hoe, and on hearing of the sighting of the Armada is reported to have said:-

"We have enough time to finish the game and beat the Spaniards too"

The main reason for the ban, as for similar bans on other sports, was that able-bodied men were required to spend their spare time practicing archery. The king's proclamation also noted that arrow-makers and bow-makers were not being productive enough because of the time they wasted on bowling. Such bans soon passed with the use of firearms and the declining importance of archery in warfare, but the Puritan revolution virtually ended all sports in England, and lawn bowling did not make much of a comeback even with the Restoration of 1660.
The sport flourished in Scotland, however, and the Scots during the 1840s developed a set of standardized rules that have been changed very little.