At the time the fieldworkers were collecting memories from informants, leisure activities were still very much homemade or home-based. Information was gathered on traditional games that are still enjoyed today, including quoits, marbles, hide and seek, conkers, and games of chase or tig.

The Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture contains images of several traditional games being played in Yorkshire, including quoits, wallops, knur and spell and tipcat.


Three people in a field

Two teenage boys playing quoits.

‘Quoits’ (LAVC/PHO/P1770) by Werner Kissling

Although not as common nowadays, quoits is still played today, and sets using rope or wooden hoops are available for sale. The game involves throwing a ring of iron, rope or rubber to encircle or land as near as possible to an upright peg. These images show the game being played at Castle Bolton in North Yorkshire in 1964, with teenage boys and older residents playing alongside each other.

Two people with quoits

Two adult males playing quoits.

Quoits (LAVC/PHO/P1786) by Werner Kissling.

One of the men is using a hinged measuring blade to decide the winner.


Also known as nine-pins, this game is played by throwing a stick at nine wooden skittles or pins set into a square. The object is to knock down all nine skittles in as few throws as possible. In these images, a group of children in Castle Bolton, North Yorkshire show us how it’s done.

People and children playing a game

Children playing Wallops.

‘Wallops (Nine-Pins)’ ( LAVC/PHO/P1745) by Werner Kissling

People and children playing a game

Children playing Wallops.

‘Wallops (Nine-Pins)’ (LAVC/PHO/P1748) by Werner Kissling

Knur and Spell

This game involves a ball (knur) being launched into the air by a spring-loaded spell before being hit as far as possible with a stick (striker). There are variations in techniques and terms used between Yorkshire and Lancashire. In this image, William Scott and another man play the game in a field in Langthwaite, Yorkshire in 1967. In the first image, Mr Scott prepares to touch the spring with the striker to throw the knur upwards. We will never know if he won that day!

Two people with sporting equipment

Playing knur and spell.

‘Knur and Spell’ (LAVC/PHO/P1790) by Werner Kissling

A person with a stick and ball

Striking the knur.

‘Knur and Spell’ (LAVC/PHO/P1797) by Werner Kissling

Sports equipment

Knur and Spell equipment.

'Knur and Spell:Equipment' (LAVC/PHO/P1789) by Werner Kissling

In the following recording, James Gledhill, a retired mill hand in Golcar, describes the game of knur and spell and the equipment used. He also remembers betting on knur and spell matches. 

Listen here

‘Sound Recordings, Yorkshire’ ( LAVC/SRE/A723r) by Stanley Ellis
A transcription for this audio can be found (here)

Get involved

Many of the informants interviewed by the fieldworkers contributed memories of games they played as children or adults. See if you have heard of or played any of the following:

  • Oak balling (Staffordshire) – a form of chase
  • Kick shins (Hampshire)
  • Taws or marbles (Stokesley, North Yorkshire)
  • Blobbing (Stokesley, North Yorkshire) – retrieving pennies while bathing in the beck (stream)
  • Charts (Stokesley, North Yorkshire) – Conkers
  • Merel (Stokesley, North Yorkshire) – a board game, similar to draughts
  • Eel blobbing (Sutterton, Lincolnshire) – fishing for eels with a glaive and eel stonker
  • Halfpenny nap (Herefordshire) – a card game
  • Hop, stride, straddle and jump (Scopwick, Lincolnshire) – a children’s game

If you have memories of playing any of these games, or if you have some of your own to add to the list, you can get involved and contribute to our growing archive

Two people standing in front of buildings


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