What did people in Victorian England do in their free time? “The evolving of man does not drive change -- it enables change.” (Unknown) Today, people surf the web, play video games, listen to their iPods, and watch TV (among other things). But back in the late 1700s/early 1800s, they did not have TVs, iPods, video games, or computers. With the resources available then, they would play sports, pick up a book to read, or have play time.
One thing that has carried through the centuries is athletics. Although the types of athletic activities have altered somewhat, a few have stayed alive and are performed today. In the Victorian Era in England, people played two kinds of sports: recreational sports and competitive sports. Recreational sports included games like croquet and cycling. Competitive sports would be like football and lawn tennis.
Croquet was introduced in England in 1856 (and was probably brought to America in the early 1860’s). Croquet is still played today at parties, events, etc.). It was considered particularly suitable for women since it required considerable skills, but not too much strength or technique (Victorians believed women were deficient in both!). (Hobbies) Although croquet was never a popular men’s game, it had both social and economic advantages: men and women could play together, and it required little equipment and no special clothing. Cycling became very popular. The bicycle was brought out in 1817 and was the cheapest way to travel. People who lived in town would ride out into the countryside on their bicycles. Kids would often race to see who was the fastest and adults would cruise around and have fun. It was a family activity and everyone in the family had a bike. Football (soccer in the U.S.A.) was introduced to Europe in the early 1800s. The first Football Association (FA) Cup was played in 1871. This was when many football clubs were set-up; ones like Aston Villa and Everton were set up by churches to attract...
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