A couple of weeks ago, a friend told me she started playing swingolf. She gave a little demonstration with the three-faced club. She aroused my interest and being the co-author of the trilogy 'Games for Kings & Commoners', I know something about four other stick & ball games, so I decided to compare the different games. If you are interested in my findings, look here.
The rules of the game of crosse
Having published recently, the earliest of rules of
jeu de mail, now I would like to present you the rules and regulations of ‘jeu
de crosse en plaine’ (field crosse). The French rules date from 1978, the
Belgian ones from 1980.
En quoi consiste le jeu de crosse ?
Sur le site Docplayer.fr, je viens
de découvrir cet article, publié par un certain Olivier Morel. C’est le premier
chapitre de notre livre ‘Jeu de Crosse Crossage A travers les âges’ (2012). Hélas, M. Morel a oublié de nous communiquer pourquoi, quand et où il voulait utiliser
cette partie de notre livre, comme on a demandé sur la page de titre. Il a
aussi oublié de mentionner les auteurs de cet article (mon feu mari et
moi). Pas très gracieux, n’est-ce pas ?
The caddy in jeu de mail - Porte-lève or porte-mail
In golf and its continental cousins, more or less frequently, players made use of a kind of assistant for all kinds of jobs to make the game for the players more relaxing and comfortable.
Except for the golf assistants, only a little information about the servants in the other games is available. Click here to read all the information we collected about the ‘mail caddies’.
The earliest of rules of jeu de mail
The oldest known printed rules of paillemail in French are part of the so-called 'Dupuy Collection'. The Dupuy brothers were collectors of old papers. They filed them in folders which they closed when they had a certain thickness. One of the folders, closed in 1655, contains the rules of several games, amongst them 'Les Loix dv Paillemail', which date back before 1642.
The first deliberate transcription of these rules appeared in' Games for Kings & Commoners Part Two' (2014, Geert & Sara Nijs). If you are interested in these rules, click here for the re-designed and revised edition.
Looking through my site, I realized that the article ‘From colf to kolf’ in Golfika no. 6 December 2010, the magazine of the European Association of Golf Historians and Collectors (EAGHC), was preceded by the presentation of Geert and me at the annual meeting of the EAGHC two months earlier. Unfortunately, the article in Golfika was sooner a summary, while in the meeting, we could show many pictures to underline the more extensive text. Therefore, I decided to present you the nearly thirty images with the original text of our presentation at the Kennemer Golf & Country Club in the Netherlands. Click here to learn more about the development ‘From colf to kolf’.
In June 2015, Geert started to collect several erroneous quotes about jeu de mail (also called pallamaglio, pall mall and derivatives). One could say: if nobody knows, one can tell what one likes. Whenever there is an illustration of people with a club in their hands and a ball on the ground: bingo, that’s the game I’m researching!
Geert named this collection simply ‘Balderdash’. Recently, I came across this document and decided to share it on my site. If you are interested, click here.
The statue of St Anthony, patron saint of all crosseurs, nearly completely restored
It is not the first time that you find in ‘What’s New’ a contribution about St Anthony in Barbefosse at Havré (Belgique), particularly about his role in the game of crosse.
This time, my contribution informs you about the freshly renovated statue of St Anthony. And other good news: an association has taken charge of the renovation of ‘his chapel’. Follow its development here!
La statue de Saint Antoine, patron de tous les crosseurs, presque totalement restaurée
Ce n’est pas la première fois que ‘What’s New’ donne une contribution sur Saint Antoine en Barbefosse à Havré (Belgique), en particulier sur son rôle dans le jeu de crosse.
Cette fois-ci, la contribution parle de la statue de Saint Antoine laquelle vient d’être restaurée. Et une autre bonne nouvelle : la rénovation de « sa chapelle » est prise en main ! Suivez ici le progrès !
2015, Geert and I gave a presentation at the annual meeting of the
European Association of Golf Historians & Collectors (EAGHC) called
'All roads lead to Scotland'. If you look at this presentation, you
know what inspired us to publish 'CHOULE The Non-Royal but most
Ancient Game of Crosse' and our trilogy 'Games for Kings &
Click here to follow our presentation page by page.And when you have finished, look at this site under the heading ‘Books’. Enjoy yourself!
Not every “Mail” is a “Jeu de Mail”
Researching “jeu de mail” is a beautiful occupation. It leads to a deformation of the “profession”. If you see a nice lane of a certain length, bordered with large trees, and carrying the name “mail”, you think: bingo!
However, town councils could have constructed these lanes in a time after the decline of the game of mail. The former mail courses served as an example to create shady lanes at the beginning of the 19th century where the people could walk freely and enjoy under the foliage. And word has it that Napoléon ordered the plantation of trees, in particular plane trees, along the national roads, so that his armies could move in de shadow.
So every sign has to be researched in depth: town and departmental archives, the national library of France, etc. Here you find the report on a fake sign in Issy-l’Evêque, a small town in the west of Burgundy.
Tout « Mail » n’est pas un « Jeu de Mail »
La recherche sur le « jeu de mail » est une belle occupation. Cela provoque une déformation du « métier ». Si on voit une jolie allée d’une certaine longueur, bordée avec des grands arbres, portant en plus le nom de « mail », on pense bingo !
Cependant, ces allées peuvent avoir été construites après le déclin du jeu de mail. Au début du 19ème siècle, les anciens courts de mail étaient un exemple pour construire des allées ombrageuses où les gens pouvaient se promener et profiter de la verdure.
Une vieille rumeur dit que les arbres, spécialement des platanes vieux de deux siècles environ, que l'on voit parfois au bord des routes nationales, ont été plantés par Napoléon à une époque où il cherchait à déplacer ses armées à l'abri du soleil.
Cela veut dire que chaque indice doit être fouillé : aux archives municipales et départementales, à la Bibliothèque nationale de France, etc. Ici, vous trouvez le compte rendu d’un faux indice à Issy-l’Evêque, une petite ville dans l’ouest de la Bourgogne.
'Schotse kliek', een bijzondere vondst in de Leidse bodem
Sorry for all those who are not fluent in Netherlandish. After last month's contribution, I now publish in full the original story about the unique discovery of the Scottish cleek in Leiden (The Netherlands), written by Do Smit and published on the site https://static. golfgeschiedenis.nl.
The Schotse Kliek
In October 2017, Do Smit wrote a prepublication about the unique discovery of a Scottish cleek in the city of Leiden in the Netherlands. Iain Forrester could use this article for his contribution about this cleek in Through The Green (December 2017), for which he acknowledges Do Smit. Interested in “the Holy Grail of Dutch Colf/Golf Collecting”, as Iain Forrester called this artefact? Click here.
Stick and ball playing putti
Looking through my archives, I came across several putti playing with sticks and balls. They appear in a book of hours, on Delft tiles, in books about sports, on porcelain, and later in papers and advertising. According to the authors and antique sellers, the little kids, with or without wings, played hockey, lacrosse, jeu de crosse and last but not least: golf.
If you are interested in these little boys, click here to read my article, which I published in the magazine of the European Association of Golf Historians & Collectors ‘golfika’, spring 2022.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau & le jeu de mail
La raison directe de cette contribution est un message de Do Smit, reçu au mois de mai de cette année. Il m'envoyait un extrait des "Rêveries du promeneur solitaire" de Rousseau, publiées en 1782, quatre ans après son décès. Rousseau y décrit l'accident survenu sur le cours de mail "Plainpalais" à Genève (cf. "Games for Kings & Commoners", Part Two, chapter "Spreading (s)wings", p. 47).
Lors de nos recherches à Geert et à moi, nous avions déjà trouvé une mention du jeu de mail montpelliérain. Sur internet, j'ai également découvert, par la suite, un troisième renvoi à ce même jeu de mail que Rousseau mentionne sans en faire véritablement un sujet dans son œuvre.
Pour en savoir plus, cliquez ici pour un bond dans le 18ème siècle.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau & the game of mail
The immediate cause for this contribution is a message
from Do Smit, which I received in May this year. He sent me an extract from
Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “Les rêveries du promeneur solitaire” (published in
1782, four years after his death). Rousseau wrote about his accident on
Geneva's mail course, the Plainpalais (see 'Games for Kings & Commoners,
Part Two', chapter 'Spreading (s)wings', page 47).
The Flemish and the game of 'curling'
Honestly, this posting has nothing to do with golf or its continental look-alikes! So why do you find it on my website? Because after publishing 'The Flemish and the game of golf', Geert and I were asked to write a contribution about curling. It is merely a question of being proud that we had a second publication on the blog of a major project of the University of St Andrews Institute of Scottish Historical Research, called 'Scotland and the Flemish people'.
As with golf (our blog posting dated November 20, 2015), there is considerable controversy over whether the game originated in Scotland or was introduced into the country by Flemish migrants. In our contribution, we examine the evidence, which revolves around the content of paintings dating from the late medieval and early modern periods.
If you are interested, all the same, you will find our posting here!
Visit at the Nederlands Golfmuseum
In March, I
visited the Nederlands Golfmuseum in Afferden, where I received a hearty
welcome from Dr. Maria Vrijmoed-De Vries (volunteer projectmanager, webmaster and minutes secretary) and Mr. Ferd Vrijmoed (treasurer, archivist). In spite of the hectic around the
reopening of the extended and therefore rearranged museum, they found the time
to show me around and to have lunch together. Maria and Ferd are a remarkable
The Flemish and the game of golf
In 2013, the University of St Andrews started the 'Scotland and the Flemish People' project. I quote:
"The overall aim of the project is to provide an accessible overview of the impact of the Flemish people on Scotland and the historical interactions between Scotland and Flanders (the Low Countries or modern-day Belgium)."
In 2015, Dr Alex Fleming asked us to write a blog post about the possible connection between the Flemish and the game of golf.
We quoted all historians who wrote about the history of golf to find a surprising difference of opinion about the game's origin. However, we did not attempt to examine the veracity of the claims or to weigh the relative merits of different theories regarding the origin of the golf game. Click here to read our findings.
The first clubhouses in golf & its continental look-alikes
A golf course or golf club
without a clubhouse … can you imagine a nice round of golf without a
refreshment with your friends afterwards, discussing your 'nearest', politics
and the problems with your back?
Paintings in words
During the Little Ice Age, which coincidented with the Netherlandish Golden Age, several painters specialized in winter landscapes, especially the divertissement on the ice. People did not only skate, fish or sledge; they also played the game of colf. Hundreds of paintings showed colvers on the ice. Famous exponents of this style were the brothers Barent and Hendrick Avercamp.Some years ago, my deceased husband Geert studied their paintings and many of their contemporaries, and he came to the conclusions you can find here.
17 janvier: fête de Saint Antoine, patron de tous les crosseurs
17 January: St Anthony's day, patron saint of all crosseurs
January is the month of St Anthony, patron saint of all crosseurs. The 17th is his name day. Read here how he became the crosseurs’ patron and look at the text of a St Anthony song, lost in the mist of time. Alain Fagnot, Président de l’ASBL Cervia Médiéval, Chièvres, was so kind as to translate this song Borain into French. After the interpretation by Marie Neige, an ancient French teacher, I could do the English translation.
The end of pall mall in London
In December 2020, I published some pictures showing an unknown game in Great Britain erroneously called pall mall. Today I show you again some depictions which indicate the fall of the game of mail in London in the first half of the 18th century.
Studying them, one can conclude that the game disappeared in a period of some 16 years.
Jeu de crosse in medieval literature
Do Smit, ex-curator of the former web museum colf-kolf.nl, made the following remark after having seen the recent edition of 'CHOULE - The Non-Royal but most Ancient Game of Crosse':
struck me that you elaborated in detail on Jacob van Maerlant, who is
in my opinion rather a colf hero, and that you hint indirectly to
Robert de Boron and ban him to the bibliography."
Colf near Windsor Castle
the R&A World Golf Museum, I received a question from one of their
contacts about three artefacts found in the Thames near Windsor Castle.
These artefacts are undoubtedly 'colf club heads' (in Netherlandish
'slofs' [one slof, plural slofs]), notable findings in England!
Colf at Beverwijck, Albany, New York State - Material Culture in seventeenth-century Dutch colonial manuscripts
New world Dutch studies - Dutch Arts & Culture in Colonial America 1609- 1776’ (1987)
Although Charles T. Gehring calls the game ‘golf’, he talks about the fightings provoked by the game of ‘colf’. When he describes the stick and balls, and the customs to note the scores, it is clear that ‘colf’ is the item. On this page, you’ll find the part of his article, dealing with the game of colf.
Miners and jeu de crosse
Miners have probably played an essential role in the survival of the crosse game in the period 1850 - 1950. Among the more than 150.000 miners, several thousand played the game of crosse regularly on winter Sundays, in the fields and wastelands near the mining compounds.
After the war, the game of crosse began to lose much of its glory. Immediately after the end of the war, the demand for coal increased to rebuild Europe. However, the mining profession had lost much of its attraction to local people. Therefore, the mining companies recruited thousands of workers outside Belgium and France. More than 70% of all coal miners were Italians, Spaniards, Greeks, Poles, North Africans, etc. These foreign workers were not interested in the traditional game of crosse.
In this contribution, you can follow the rise and fall of the game of crosse.
This month, you find a chapter about the adaptations to the crosse clubs, necessary to handle the new choulettes, developed to get more distance in the field. Interested? Click here.
Both in our book 'CHOULE The Non-Royal but most Ancient Game of Crosse' (2008) and the publication' Games for Kings & Commoners' (2011), we dealt thoroughly with the 'choulettes' (balls) and 'crosses' (clubs) in the crosse game. In the meantime, we received additional information about the development of choulettes and the necessary adaptation of the crosse clubs in Belgium. Most of the 'advanced knowledge' came from Freddy Gallez, an 'ancient' crosse player from an even more ancient crosse family in the Borinage. Click here if uou are interested in the Belgian development of the balls in the game of crosse.
Clubs de crosse
En mars, j’ai publié l’article sur le développement en Belgique au niveau des choulettes, ce mois-ci vous trouverez l’adaptation des clubs de crosse, conséquence du nouveau matériel utilisé pour les balles. Aussi cet article est écrit en étroite collaboration avec Freddy Gallez.
2021 Edition of 'CHOULE The Non-Royal but most Ancient Game of Crosse'
Having sold the last copy of the book 'CHOULE', I decided on a revised edition. In the period 2008 up to 2018, Geert and I made several notes for improvement.
I chose not to update the introduction and the afterword. Geert wrote the texts, and in these chapters, you find the reasons why over the years, we published our books.
Furthermore, in this extended edition the rules and regulations of the different variants of the crosse game found a place.
Click here if you are interested in this revised, extended and re-designed edition.
Choulettes (soules) dans le crossage
Dans notre livre « CHOULE – The Non-Royal but most Ancient Game of Crosse » (2008) comme dans l’ouvrage « Games for Kings & Commoners » (2011) nous avons donné des descriptions approfondies des choulettes (balles) et des crosses (bâtons) dans le jeu de crosse ou le crossage. Entretemps nous avons rencontré quelques personnes bien informées sur le jeu dans le Hainaut belge. Les informations supplémentaires sur le développement des soules et par conséquent sur l’adaptation des bâtons de crosse, nous ont poussés à écrire de nouveau sur ce sujet.
Cliquez ici pour lire l’article dans lequel on partage les observations de Freddy Gallez, ancien crosseur belge.
De maliebaan in internationaal perspectief
Oud-Utrecht Jaarboek 2020
Last month, I published the paper 'Mailbahnen als städtebauliche und landschaftsplanerische Innovation im 17. Jahrhundert.', written by Volkmar Eidloth and Hans Renes (2018). They have continued their research which resulted in the paper 'De Maliebaan in internationaal perspectief', published in 'Oud-Utrecht Jaarboek 2020'. The preceding paper was in German, this one is in Netherlandish. So if you are well up on this language, click here.
Mailbahnen als städtebauliche und landschaftsplanerische Innovation im 17. Jahrhundert
Siedlungsforschung. Archäologie – Geschichte – Geographie 35, 2018
In December 2019, I made mention of an article of two scientists, Volkmar Eidloth and Hans Renes. In their introduction, they wrote about our trilogy 'Games for Kings & Commoners' as being a true gold mine. These words encouraged me to pick up the 'jeu de mail' (pall mall) findings of my deceased husband Geert and me instead of putting them under a big pile of paper. By now, I found out that it is not as easy as that, but it is a beautiful occupation in this time, where we live from one lockdown into the other. Here you can find the article of Volkmar Eidloth and Hans Renes.
Pall Mall in Great Britain?
My husband Geert and I published in 2011 a chapter about 'Pall Mall in Great Britain' in 'Games for Kings & Commoners' (pages 125-137). One of our illustrations was a picture from the 'Chambers Book of Days', as it is popularly called. The depiction visualises King Charles II (1630-1685) during a 'round of jeu de mail (pall mall).
In this article, I present some other nineteenth-century illustrators, who more or less copied the goal – or even the game? – as depicted in 'Chambers Book of Days', although changing each time the clubs used.
Photos du « Sport Universel – Illustré », March 1909 : Chevalier du Bois Roulant
Dans le magazine « Le Sport Universel – Illustré », Paul Hamelle a écrit un article sur le jeu de mail à Montpellier. En mars 1909, sous le nom « Tartarin Sportsman », il remplit trois pages sur le jeu. Fortement intéressant sont surtout les photos lesquelles ont illustrées son article, intitulé « Chevalier du Bois Roulant = Les Petits Jeux de Tartarin ». Pour les photos, cliquez ici.
« Di Giocatori di Palla al maglio » d'Antonfranceso Grazzini
Au 16ème siècle, le jeu de mail était si populaire en Italie, que plusieurs écrivains et poètes le choisi comme sujet de leurs écritures. Le plus vieil ouvrage, que j’ai trouvé, date de 1552 quand Angelo de gl’Oldradi écrivit « Capitolo del Pallamaglio ». Dans un sens satirique, Oldradi décrivit le jeu et sa popularité, en proposant une prohibition. En 1553/1554, il y avait Bartolomeo Ricci qui composa une lettre sur le jeu. Il donnait une description du matériel et du jeu d’une façon assez technique.
Pour le ‘What’s New’ de ce mois, je vous propose le poème « Di Giocatori di Palla al maglio », un poème de Antonfrancesco Grazzini, surnommé Il Lasca, lequel fait partie des « Rimes », édité en 1559 pour la première fois.
Malheureusement, l’italien de cette époque n’est pas facile, raison de plus pour être heureuse que Valerio Vittorini, Professeur d’italien, a trouvé le temps pour faire la traduction de ce poème, un hymne au jeu.
Le premier joueur de mail fameux
est une ville
italienne, située dans la ville métropolitaine de Naples
A road ... like any other?
on the internet for new traces of mail alleys, especially in France, I
sometimes come across unknown courses in other countries, where I am
not particularly searching. To analyse the over 300 traces found in
France is already a “hell of a job” for one person. But whenever I
discover a mail course, of course, I take notes; it would be a pity to
let such an alley disappear in the mist of time ...
Château de Folembray, Aisne 02, Hauts de France
Le château royal de Folembray fut bâti dans le style renaissance sous François 1er entre 1540 et 1552. Incendié en 1552 par les troupes impériales de Marie, reine de Hongrie, partiellement reconstruit par Henri II, le château n'est plus qu'un rendez-vous de chasse qu'occupe Henri IV, roi de France de 1589 à 1610. Sur une gravure de 1626, on voit bien un jeu de mail.
Fact-finding on 'Jeu de Mail' (Pall Mall): Marseille
turn of the 17th century, jeu de mail courses were constructed in
castle gardens and in towns and villages all over France. These 'boulevards'
with a length of 500 to 1,000 metres had only one 'hole'.
There was also the better-known cross-country variant as played in and around Montpellier until the Second World War. This contribution tells about the two public mail courses in Marseille.
Who needs an ‘Aide’ to play the game
Following its publication in 'Games for Kings & Commoners – Part Two' (July 2014), Geert and I published in TTG this chapter about caddies and alike in the continental golf-like games.
In all games, assistants made the game for the players more relaxing and comfortable, but not much is written about the 'verseurs' in jeu de crosse, the 'porte-lèves', 'porte-mails' in mail or about the 'ballemerkers' in colf. Here you can read the result of our research carried out on this aspect of the games.
I’d like to
teach the world to s(w)ing
Preceding its publication in 'Games for Kings & Commoners – Part Two' (July 2014), Geert and I published this chapter in TTG. We have been looking at the teaching methods in the continental golf-like games.
If one wants to improve one's performance on the golf course, there are professionals and facilities to practice what the teacher has told. There are books and magazines, and today's club and ball makers continue to invent new equipment. Not much is known about the 'coaching' of colf, crosse and mail players in the early days of these games; this is all we found.
Jeu de crosse à Bel’œil
(Belgique) en 1901 / Jeu de crosse in Bel’œil (Belgium) in 1901
Jeu de crosse à Hornu (Belgique) en 1934 / Jeu de crosse in Hornu (Belgium) in 1934