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Bat and Ball Games - History and Useful Information

Bat and Trap
Knur and Spell
Where to buy


stoolball1.jpg (19646 bytes)Stoolball is an ancestor of Cricket and Bat and Trap and play is pretty similar to Cricket. The story goes that milkmaids started the game by throwing stones at their upturned stools while waiting for their shepherd husbands to return from the fields where they were passing the time throwing stones at "wicket gates", a kind of field gate. A more concrete fact is that the game, in 1671, was apparently played in North Wiltshire, North Gloucestershire and near Bath. At that time the ball was 4 1/2 inches, stuffed with quills and very hard. The bat was a "staffe" made of withy about 3 1/2 feet long. It seemed to die out after the 17th century but in 1916 Major Grantham of Balneath Manor, Sussex re-kindled it as a healthy pastime for soldiers convalescing soldiers and it has been alive in Sussex ever since.

Today, the game is played with wickets that are 1 foot high square boards hoisted on poles standing 4 feet 8 inches high. Each structure stands 16 yards apart and is bowled at behind a bowling crease just 10 yards from the wicket. The bowler throws the ball underarm at the wicket without bouncing and the batsman scores runs in the same way as for cricket - by running to the opposing wicket. The ball is solid and covered in leather and the bat is rounded and about 7 1/2 inches across with a stubby handle. Also like cricket, each team consists of 11 players but an "over" consists of eight balls, not six.
stoolball2.jpg (19448 bytes)

Pictures published by kind permission Richard Emsley, The National Stoolball Association.

Bat and Trap

The game of Bat and Trap is something of a Kent tradition and isn't really known outside of this English county. There was a monastery on the site where Ye Old Beverlie Inn now stands, and it is believed that the ancestor of Bat & Trap, which is clearly related to Cricket, was first played in the 14th century. The Beverlie opened for business in the 1740's, and it has records of the game being played there since it opened. The game had dwindled almost to non-existence at the beginning of the twentieth century, being played by just a handful of pubs but in 1922, it was rekindled when a group of pubs, Ye Old Beverlie amongst them, created the Canterbury and District Bat and Trap League. From that point, the game and the league gathered strength until in 1986 when a political split caused the creation of the splinter group who called themselves the "Friendly League". At the time entry into the Canterbury and District league could only occur when a team departure created a vacancy and the management was deemed to be somewhat autocratic by it's opponents. The Friendly League today is a smaller, slightly more social affair than it's parent, in which the competition is not taken quite so seriously. At the turn of the twentieth century, the game is again in slight decline as a result of the encroachment of TV, theme pubs and other modern distractions but both leagues continue to thrive.

The picture shows the "Canterbury British Legion" v. "Post Office Telephones" match from the 1954 Festival cup which was played beside the Dane John monument in central Canterbury. By kind permission of Howard Hammond-Edgar, Secretary of the Canterbury and District League.

Bat and Trap is a team game with eight players on each side. The "trap" is a rectangular mechanical device that lies on the ground. The batsmen knocks a lever in the trap that shoots a hard rubber ball upwards in front of the batsmen who then smashes it with the bat towards the other side of the pitch. The objective is to make the ball pass between two white posts which are 21 yards away. Normally, the ball bounces once or twice before doing this and is fielded by a member of the opposing side who stand in a line just behind and between the posts. However, in the rare case where a fielder catches the ball without it having touched the ground, the batsman is "caught out". A batsman who misses the ball or otherwise fails to bash it between the posts successfully is also out, this tragedy being termed "knocked out".

Once the a fielder has the ball in hand, the bowling part of the game proceeds. The bowler has as a target the front part of the trap, which is a 5 inches square rectangular flap hinged at the bottom and standing vertically. A bowler from the fielding side throws or rolls the ball down the pitch at the trap target which is called a "wicket" and the batsman must stand back and cannot obstruct the ball in any way. If the wicket is knocked down, the batsman is "bowled out" and the next batsman steps up. If the bowler misses, then the batsman has scored a run and carries on with the next strike.

Knur and Spell

Knur and Spell is one of a number of games in which the aim is simply to hit a ball or other object as far as possible. Other pub games with similar aims include Nipsy, Peggy and Billets. The Knur, a hard golf-ball sized ball, is propelled vertically into the air by a Spell, a mechanical device that is tripped when a foot or club presses a lever (very similar to the Trap in Bat and Trap). The aim then is for the player simply to hit the knur down the pitch using a trippitt, a club from two to six feet long and not dissimilar to a golf club. More recently, the spell has become replaced by a sling, a noose dangled from a stake in the ground.

Buy Stoolball

Masters Games sells Stoolball equipment


The Canterbury and District Bat and Trap League

The Artichoke

Rattington Street, Chartham 01227 738316

The Castle

Oare, Nr. Faversham, Kent

The Chapter Arms

Newtown Street, Chartham Hatch 01227 738340

The Chequers Inn

Stone St, Petham, Canterbury 01227 700734

The Dolphin

St. Radigans Street, Canterbury

The Frog & Orange

Shatterling, Nr. Wingham, Canterbury. 01304 812525

The Four Horseshoes

Borstall Hill, Whitstable 01227 279876

Ye Gentil Knyght

London Road Estate, Canterbury 01227 765891

The Golden Lion

Mayton Lane, Broad Oak, Nr. Canterbury

The Way Out Inn

Westmarsh, Ash, Canterbury, Kent 01304 812899

The Heron

Station Road, Herne Bay 01227 372990

The Huntsman & Horn

Broomfield, Herne Bay, Kent 01227 365995

The Imperial

48 Martyrs Field Road, Canterbury 01227 451380

The Market Inn

East Street, Faversham, Kent 01795 532527

The Mill House

Littlebourne Road, Canterbury

The Queens Head

111 The Street, Boughton, Faversham, Kent

Herne Bay Golf Driving Range

Bullockstone Rd, Greenhill, Herne Bay 01227 374121

The Royal Oak

Hatch Lane, Chartham Hatch, Nr. Canterbury 01227 738229

The Sondes Arms

The Swan Inn

High Street, Sturry, Nr. Canterbury 01227 710003

The Three Tuns

Tanner Street, Faversham, Kent 01795 532663

The Two Brewers

Borstall Hill, Whitstable

The Upper Red Lion

Herne St, Herne, Nr. Herne Bay, Kent 01227 361083
The Jolly Sailor Joy Lane, Whitstable, Kent

The Woodman's Hall

The Street, Boughton, Nr. Canterbury 01227 751214
Friendly Bat and Trap League (submitted Cardy Cruttwell November 2000)

St Crispin Inn, Worth
Black Pig, Staple
The Way Out Inn, Westmarsh
The Crown Inn, Finglesham
Half Moon and Seven Stars, Preston
Bull Inn, Eastry
Anchor Inn, Stodmarsh
Red Lion, Stodmarsh
Westbere Butts, Westbere
Royal Oak, Broad Oak
Chequer Inn, Ash
Griffins Head, Chillenden
The Sportsman, Cliffsend
Ye Olde Beverlie Inn, Canterbury. (at St. Stephen's beyond the West gate of the old city), Kent
Dog and Duck, Plucks Gutter
Saddler Inn, Minster
Prince of Wales, Hoath

Sevenoaks Bat and Trap League (established 1979, submitted Leighton Evans, Jan 2001)
John Dagg - Secretary (Crown) Tel: 01959 571527
Leighton Evans - Secretary. (Blacksmiths) Tel: 07956 339242.

The Bell Inn, High Street, Kemsing, Kent TN15 6PA., Tel: 01732 761550, Landlord: Nick
Blacksmiths Arms, Cudham Lane South, Cudham, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 7QB., Tel: 01959 572678, Landlord: Paul Mason
The Bull Inn, High Street, Brasted, Westerham,, Kent. TN16 1HR., Tel: 01959 562551., Landlord: Paula and Rob Carter
The Chequers Inn, Watery Lane, Heaverham, , Sevenoaks, Kent. TN15 6NP., Tel: 01732 761413, Landlord: Henrique and Anna Da Silva
The Crown, Main Road, Knockholt, Kent., TN14 7LS., Tel: 01959 532142, Landlord: Roy and Pauline Gleason
Rose & Crown, Otford Lane, Halstead, Kent., TN14 7EA, Tel: 01959 533120, Landlord:
White Hart, High Street, Brasted, Westerham,, Kent TN16 1JE, Tel: 01959 560651, Landlord: Mark and Louise Robinson
The White Rock Inn, Underriver, Near Sevenoaks,, Kent. TN15 OSB., Tel: 01732 833112, Landlord: Frank, Maria, Justin and staff.
The Bull Inn, High Street, Brasted, Westerham, Kent TN16 1HR, Tel: 01959 562551, Landlord: Paula and Rob Carter
The Kentish Yeoman, 10-12 High Street, Seal, , Nr. Sevenoaks, Kent TN15 OAT, Tel: 01732 761041, Landlord:
The Miners Arms, London Road, Dunton Green, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 2UP., Tel: 01732 462214, Landlord: Stella & Bill
The Rising Sun, Twitton Lane, Otford, Sevenoaks,, Kent. TN14 5JR, Tel: 01959 525 489, Landlord:
The Star Inn, Chart Lane, Brasted Chart, Westerham, Kent. TN16 1LU., Tel: 01959 562409, Landlord: Janice Page and Robert
The Tally Ho!, Main Road, Knockholt, Kent., TN14 7NT, Tel: 01959 533602, Landlord: Mark Topliss
The Wheatsheaf, High Street, Kemsing, , Nr. Sevenoaks, Kent., Tel: 01732 761038
Pubs not currently taking part.
The Bull, High Street, Otford, Nr. Sevenoaks, Kent., Tel: 01959 523198
The Harrow Inn, Harrow Road, Knockholt, Kent. TN14 7JT., Tel: 01959 532168.
The Kings Arms, High Street, Brasted, Kent. , TN16 1JA., Tel: 01959 562975
The Rock & Fountain, Rock Hill, Well Hill, Chelsfield, Kent. BR6 7PW., Tel: 01959 534335
The Old Jail, Jail Lane, Biggin Hill, Kent , TN16 3AX., Tel: 01959 572979, Landlord: Richard and Ann Hards
Bucks Head Godden Green
Elephants Head Riverhead (no longer have garden)
Rose & Crown Dunton Green
Bullfinch Riverhead
Stanhope Arms
Any others?


If you want to submit a pub to this list, please just email me:

Bat and Trap

The Millhouse Inn, Canterbury, Kent
The Five Bells, Church Street, Gillingham, Kent
The Stonebridge Inn, Woodchurch, Ashford, Kent
The Bird in Hand, 244 Dartford Road, Dartford, Kent
The New Inn, Minster, Ramsgate, Kent


The Crown Inn, 22 Crown Street, Eastbourne, Sussex

Knur and Spell

The Spring Rock Tavern, Upper Barkisland, near Halifax, West Yorkshire.
The Sportsman Inn, Midgley, near Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire
The Tempest Arms, Elsack, near Skipton, North Yorkshire
The Robin Hood, Mytholmroyd, Halifax, West Yorkshire


Ye Olde Beverlie Inn, Canterbury. (at St. Stephen's beyond the West gate of the old city).


The National Stoolball Association

Bat and Trap from Michael Clayton
The Canterbury & District Bat & Trap League from Howard Hammond-Edgar. This is the first and oldest league in the country although Ye Olde Beverlie is no longer part of it.

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