General Introduction


A visitor to England around 1700 could easily spend many months in the country and still remain largely uninformed about the recreations of the common people. There were few fixed concrete features in the English setting which could be seen to be obviously connected with recreational activities. The popular recreations of the day were normally customs which left few physical remains after their practice. Most sports and pastimes had not yet developed special full-time locations for their exercise. The popular playgrounds were usually constructed from the materials of everyday life. Places that the sports might be found would be the market place, public thoroughfares, the churchyard, and uncultivated fields. The one fixture which the visitor would have readily associated with popular diversions would have been the public house. The visitor might have taken the opportunity to see one of the well publicized sporting diversions which tended to cut across class lines- perhaps bull-baiting, cock-fighting, and boxing, but the visitors knowledge of the most seasonal recreations would have depended very much on chance whether or not he/she was in a particular locality at the time when a holiday was customarily observed and when the sports were being played. This web site gives examples of the different blood sports in eighteenth century England. Blood sports were not just involving non-humans. Humans also have aggression instinctive to them. This aggression is not only displayed in the prize-fighting competitors, but in all the spectators of these cruel sports.


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