Skip to main content

Games, Hobbies,and Holidays

The simplest (and usually the most boring) pastime for children was walking.

Most children, where circumstances allowed, were given their own patch of garden to look after. This could be very satisfying, but only in the growing season.

The conventional pets are cats, dogs, puppies, hens, chickens, birds, more unusual pets are dormouse, peacocks, parrots, ferrets.

Rural trio of hunting, shooting and fishing
Shooting was not as popular in the early 19th century as it became later, when loading and firing sporting guns became simpler and quicker.
Fishing was a more usual and safer sport for children.
Hunting was an extension of riding, which was an accomplishment rather than a pastime in itself. Like 20th century children learning to ride a bicycle, children in the 18th and 19th centuries, if they could, learned to ride a donkey or a pony (owned, hired or borrowed) and later graduated to a horse.

Criket and other outdoor pastimes

Cricket was well established in 1791, though often played by children to variable rules by teams of variable numbers.

An outdoor amusement not requiring more than one child was kites.

Swimming in a river or pond is mentioned occasionally, and birefly. It was a way of cooling off in very hot weather rather than a popular sport, and, of course, for boys only.

Indoor pastimes

Battledore-and-shuttlecock was safer for ornaments than bat-and-ball, but it was usually played by younger children.

Girls, of course, had dolls, which occasionally suffered from the well-meaning intentions of their owners.

Needle works of some sort was another occupation for girls. It began as a learning process and, hopefully, became an enjoyable pastime.

Stamp colleting became a hobby as more countries followed the lead of Britain's Penny Post of 1840.

Winter Evenings

Long evenings called for pastimes that children of different ages could join in, including music, dancing and card-games.

Simpler pastimes

Most of the children's games required no special equipment at all. They include hide and seek; chasing and catching games like Hunting the Hare or Prisoners' Base; games of physical strength or skill such as Leap-Frog, and hopping on one foot, trying to knock each other off balance. Activities such as swimming in summer and sliding on the ice in winter likewise needed no cash outlay. For "Horses" a child could use a stick instead of a specially made hobby-horse. For skipping, poor children could use a piece of rope too short for any serious purpose. Games of Hopscotch or Ducks-and-Drakes (or skimmers) only needed some suitable stones. Whipping tops and hoops could be home-made, with some help from the village carpenter perhaps. Kites were another possiblility.

Cats and dogs were rarely just pets; most had a serious role in pest control (or in poaching). Beetles and similar small cratures could be caught and made to "race" each other. Flying insects were sometimes tethered or caged - a basketwork cage was not very expensive or difficult to made. Bids-nesting was a seasonal pastime, but required a sharp eye and plenty of leisure time.


Very few suitably interesting books were available for children in the early 19th century. Ballantyne's  Coral Island and Thomas Hughes' Tom Brown's Schooldays both came out in 1857. Treasure Island was not published until 1883.

Plays and Charades

Children in families higher up the social scale sometimes made up a play or acted a charade for the adults to guess the word.


Popular posts from this blog

Panic or panick

There is only one spelling for panic ; the verb is inflected 'panic, panics, panicked, and panicking’. The form panick is used for progressive tense, past tense and past participle. We don't write panick today, though English speakers from a few hundred years ago might have (in the same way they might have written musick). When the alternate spelling “panick” is used for the past participle: "I panicked last night at the disco." When it’s use for progressive tense: “Invariably, when markets are panicking, they sell the stocks quickly.” It's the rule for root words ending in "c" is that you have to add “k”, so the spelling is related with the pronunciation. If we don't add the <k>, it looks as if the <c> has to be pronounced /s/. If the "k" was not there, “panicing” would look like the word which is supposed to be pronounced as if it is ended in "sing," while “paniced” would be pronounced like “panised”. The same

Does pearls reproduce by itself through time

At the request of several families he and Mrs Legge gave a home for some months to a young Dutch girl, a granddaughter of the first Dutch governor of the Straits Settlements. She had several pearls of which the Dutch residents were great collectors, got from oysters found in a river of the Malay Peninsula, when she left them she gave Mrs Legge a small box containing a large pearl the size of a pea, with a blue spot on it, and two others not so large. This box was then put away and locked up. Several weeks later he took it out and on opening it discovered more than a dozen pearls, most of them very small. Astonished at the phenomenon he called his chief servant, a Portuguese, who happened to enter the room and who expressed no surprise but declared it to be a common occurrence. On enquiry he found that many of the Dutch people had jars of pearls, large and small, which had accumulated in this way. Some years later he related the incident at dinner on board ship. The captain was a cautio

How to Address Important People

It would be very safe to address important people as just "Sir" or "Madam," however high their rank but it would show that you are a cultivated and wel-bred person if you were able easily and naturally to address them in the correct way. A person of lower rank does not make himself humble and ridiculous by using the correct form of address at least once or twice in a conversation. The person of higher rank will, however, be just as embarrassed as his inferior if the formal address is used too often. Be natural, that is the great thing, and if you are not too sure of yourself, watch carefully how others more used to such company behave. Here then are some of the correct forms of address in speaking to titled people: -- The King, The Queen: Your Majesty. Member of the Royal Family: Your Royal Highness. Duke, Duchess: Your Grace Marquis, Earl, Viscount, Baron: My Lord, or Your Lordship. Marchioness, Countess, Viscountess, Baroness: My Lady or Your Ladyship.