OxfordCroquet Logo

Dr Ian Plummer

Donation Button

< Chapter III
Croquet, 1864, Captain Mayne Reid
Transcribed by Dr Ian Plummer

1864 Croquet Lawn Setting The arena having been chosen, and its boundaries marked out, it remains only to set the stakes and bridges.1

The former are to be considered first.

The position of the starting stake will be within the arena, at least ten feet from that boundary constituting its base or foot, and midway between the flanks.

The turning stake holds a similar position to the head of the arena : that is, midway between the flanks, and at least ten feet from the head.2

The stakes once planted, the positions of the bridges can be determined without much trouble.

The central ones - which are Nos. 1, 2, and 6, 7 - should be in a line, - that is, the straight line lying between the stakes, with their planes perpendicular to it.3

Their distances from the stakes and from each other should be as follows :- No. 1, 10 feet from the starting stake; No. 2, a like distance from. No. 1; while 7 and 6 should be respectively 10 feet and 20 feet from the turning stake.

The distance between 2 and 6 remains indefinite; and will be greater, or less, according to the length of the arena.4

The flank bridges are ruled by those of the centre. Nos. 3 and 10 should be in the same plane with No. 2; one on each flank, at equal distances from it, and midway between it and the side boundaries of the arena.5

Bridges 5 and 8 should be in the same plane with No. 6, - one upon each flank, and at the distance from it as 3 and 10 are from 2. This will bring 3 in the same longitudinal line with 5, and 8 with 10.

A bridge placed midway between each pair of the latter, will complete the arrangement. These last will be Nos. 4 and 9; and they will be in the same plane with each other.6

The bridges and stakes having been set in the manner described, there are four points that deserve special mention. They are the corners; so called, not in reference to the figure of the ground, but to the round of play. They are the points of passage, from the central to the flank bridges, and vice versâ.

There are four of them :- the first lying between bridges 2 and 3; the second between 5 and 6; the third between 6 and 8 ; and time fourth and last bridges 10 and 2.7

The Spot, though first regarded in the game as the point from which the play takes its departure, is the last to be determined in the arrangement. It is a point in the line, between the starting stake and bridge No. 1, one mallet’s length from the former. It needs no further definition.8

1 Once properly placed, it is better to leave them so than risk an irregular arrangement, by taking them up for the mere purpose of housing them. Both stakes and bridges will stand exposure. Both should be firmly set to withstand any collision of the balls.

Hitherto, the arrangement of the bridges has been subject a good deal to caprice, and a great deal of misconception. It is true that many modes may be adopted, and still the game of croquet will retain most of its peculiar charms. For the sake of variety, or novelty, an occasional change may be admitted; but the original arrangement will be found the best; and any permanent departure from it must be regarded in the light of a retrograde radicalism.

2 The distance of the stakes, from head and foot boundaries, is a point of great importance, though one that is generally disregarded. A ball passing over the boundary, by the rules of the game, can be brought back

3 If it be desired to get them very exact, a ready method will be obtained by stretching a piece of string between the two stakes, an planting the bridges over it.

4 In a croquet-cground of 30 yards long, with the measurements as above, the distance between bridges 2 and 6 would be 30 feet. Where the ground is less than 30 yards in length, of course the distance becomes reduced; but it is desirable to have bridges 2 and 6 as far apart as possible. The end may be obtained by setting the other bridges a little closer, or placing the stakes nearer to the boundary lines.

5 This is supposing the arena to have a breadth of 20 yards, in which case the line of the flank bridges will be 15 feet from that of the central ones. If the ground be narrow, then it will be necessary to place the flank bridges nearer to the boundary lines, as it is desirable to have them as distant as possible from the central ones. It is also of importance that they should not approach too near to the boundaries, hence the advantages of having the arean at least 20 yards in width, or wider, if the ground will admit of it.

6 The space between each pair of the flank bridges being rules by the distance from Nos. 2 to 6 – of which it is the half – is, like the latter, indefinite. It is of no consequence that there should be an exact amount of feet between each two, so long as they are sufficiently apart.

7 In the arrangement set forth in the scant system of “Rules” propounded by the toy-makers, there are no corners. The upper and lower flank bridges – instead of being respectively in the panes of the inner central ones – are so placed that it is possible, during the same tour of play, to proceed from one line and through the other without “climbing the scape-goat,” or the intervention of any other advantage.

As the turning of the corners is, in truth, one of the most ingenious contrivances of the game of croquet, - its performance a feat of genuine skill, - it will be easily perceived, that the plan laid down must be , so far, superior to any other.

8 The Spot may be either marked out on the turf, or left to measurement. Hence the advantage of determining it at one mallet’s length from the stake, since this implement – always ready in the hands of the player - can easily be applied to the ground. There is a “rule” in common use, which places the spot 12 inches from the starting stake. The sapient propounder of this regulation could never have played the first stroke in a game of croquet; or, doing so, he must have pushed his ball!

< Chapter III
Croquet, 1864, Captain Mayne Reid
Transcribed by Dr Ian Plummer
All rights reserved © 2006-2017

Updated 28.i.16
About, Feedback
on www.oxfordcroquet.com
Hits: 5993