Marvellous marbles

There’s nothing ladylike about a game of marbles! (Photo copyright Paul Debois)

This week I bought a handful of old stone marbles and promptly fell in love with these small, round toys that can cost only a few pence, are as portable as can be, but offer a multitude of different games.

Children have played marbles for hundreds of years, so how can I have kept them only at the back of my mind for so long?

My marvellous marbles will take centre stage this Bank Holiday, with the first of a season of Hahahopscotch Sunday playtimes in the Brunel Museum’s Thameside roof garden at Rotherhithe, London.

Lovely Lottie -will be serving delicious plant-based tipples, parents will be enjoying the garden, and I will be having some old-fashioned fun with a bunch of kids and a large jar of glass marbles.

“I say old chap, fancy a game of marbles?”

I have a much-loved book of children’s games written by Winifred Wilson in 1910, and she offers several suggestions for my marbles. Here’s my favourite, Ring Taw:
‘A ring is marked on the ground. All who are going to play put a certain number of marbles each into this pool. The players stand round in a large circle, or line, called the offing, and take it in turns to fire with a taw at the marbles in the ring. When one hits a marble it is his, and he has a right to another turn. The players do not return to the offing, but take up their places where their marbles fall, or rest. Should a taw remain in the ring its owner is out, and if he should have won any marbles he must put them all back in the pool. And a player is also out, if his taw should be struck by any other taw, and he has to give up any marbles he may have won, to the owner of the taw. The “taw” means the particular marble with which the shots are made.”

Will we play this game on Sunday? I think we might just give it a go, somewhere between building our own marble run and improvising a ‘marble and spoon’ relay race.


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