Badminton / Battledore and Shuttlecock
There is undoubtedly a direct link between these two shuttlecock games with Battledore and Shuttlecock dating back to medieval England and Badminton following around 1860s. There are also many parallels with the histories of ball games but the significant difference being that whilst the ball was allowed to bounce, the shuttlecock had to be maintained airborne. This had the obvious advantage that all of the shuttlecock games could be played without any concerns as to the playing surface, rough or smooth indoors or out having no relevance.
.Firstly we have to go back even further in time as the history books describe how over 2000 years ago the Ancient Greeks, China, Japan, and other Asian countries all had shuttlecock games. In China a game was played in which the players had to keep the shuttlecock airborne using only their feet or knees rather like "keepie uppies“ in football. Similar games were played by the indigenous people of North and South America only using their hands.
.With the invention of firstly gloves and then rackets in the 16th century this enabled the shuttlecock to be hit harder, faster and further. By the 16th century in England Battledore and Shuttlecock had become a very popular children’s game. The game of Battledore and Shuttlecock differs from Badminton in that it is a cooperative game in which both players or indeed a player on his or her own, endeavours to keep the shuttlecock in the air with the most consecutive hits before it falls to the ground. Badminton is however adversarial hitting over a net and trying to get your opponent to miss with the shuttlecock going out, hitting the ground or net as soon as possible in order to win a point. There are records at Badminton House dated 1830 of two members of the family achieving an incredible 2117 continuous hits. By the late 17th century Battledore and Shuttlecock, or Jeu du Volant as known in France, had become an upper class pastime around Europe.
.The origin of the equipment is unclear. The shuttlecock is any conical arrangement of feathers weighted to the narrow end to enable flight. Some speculate that by accident the use in Europe was stumbled upon by the storage of feathers or quills which were stored in corks. With regard to the bats, rackets or battledores these were either flat wooden paddles or wooden hooped bats covered in vellum or crude small strung hooped rackets seconded from children’s games. In India it appears that strung rackets were used from day one probably because of the influence of the game of Racquets played by the many Army and Navy Garrisons. Also in India at times woollen balls were used outside when it was too windy for the feathered “birdies”.
.The exact moment in time that Battledore and Shuttlecock became Badminton is somewhat lost in the mist of time but there are plenty of theories. At some time in the 1860s the game was either taken from India where the game was called “Poona” named after the location of the military garrison, and brought back to England or invented by parties gathered at Badminton House which was a centre for sporting activities and after which the game in England was named. Other anecdotal accounts say that the Army Officers seeking recreation at Badminton House invented the game which they in turn took back to India. A further report has it that it was the children at Badminton House who stretched a cord across a room and using their childish implements invented the game. Whatever the true story I hope that the description of the memorabilia can tell some of the history through my collection which follows.
.At the end I have included items from the counter intuitive game of “Table Badminton”. Needless to say that unlike Table Tennis , this game was unsuccessful and lasted but a few years in the 1930s.