The History of Lawn Bowls

Tentative evidence exists of the ancient Egyptians playing a form of Bowls before 5000 b.c. when the object of the game was to 'hit' a target.

However, the only solid evidence of the game dates back to the 13th Century in that the Southampton Bowls Club has what is reputed to be the oldest bowling green in the world, founded in 1299. The Chesterfield Bowling Club claims that their green dates from 1294.

The first official record of the game describes Bowls as "A game of delicate skill, the object being to get bowls as close as possible to the target." (We presume 'firing' was not considered to be appropriate action in those days)

In the early 14th Century, King Edward III decided to ban the playing of bowls by his bowmen as he feared that their skills were becoming eroded through lack of archery practice as they were too occupied playing bowls.

The sports popularity in the 16th Century was such that it is mentioned in no less than three of the plays of William Shakespeare - "Richard III", "Loves Labours Lost", and "The Taming of the Shrew". "The Taming of the Shrew" even includes a reference to bowls being played by the Ladies of that era.

The most famous recorded historical event must be that of Sir Francis Drake who, on 15th July 1588, was reputedly playing bowls on Plymouth Hoe and refused to leave for battle until the game was finished.

The first 'official' rules of the game were written by the Scottish Bowls Association.

W.G.Grace, the English cricketer, helped form the English Bowls Association, and was their first President (1903-1905). He also helped organise the first International game between Scotland and England.