Playing Croquet in the City
Free games on the Rose Kennedy Greenway
If the London Olympic games have whetted your appetite for all things English, consider taking up one of that country’s most cherished—and oh so proper—pastimes: croquet.
Don’t have a croquet set or the lawn to play it on? No worries. You can borrow a croquet set at no cost at lunchtime on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at the Wharf District Park, located within the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway. Free bocce sets and beanbag games are available as well.
The popular Americanized backyard version of croquet is simpler than its British cousin, but the rules remain a bit convoluted. Players use a mallet to hit wooden balls through nine hoops, or wickets (the British game uses six wickets), which are staked into a grass playing court. The game is played by two teams—the blue and black balls versus the red and yellow balls. The first team to get both balls through the course of wickets and into the finishing stake wins.
The origins of croquet are unclear. One school of thought holds that the game came to England from France during the reign of Charles II. Some historians believe that game was introduced from Ireland during the 1850s. What is undisputed is that by the 1860s, the game had become enormously fashionable in Britain and soon thereafter in the United States, particularly among the wealthy. Croquet even had its own Olympic moment. Medals were given for the sport during the 1900 Olympics and an American version of the game—roque—was an Olympic sport during the 1904 games.
Croquet was played for a short time on the Boston Common—until it was outlawed in the 1890s, when, according to the U.S. Croquet Association, “the Boston clergy spoke out against the drinking, gambling, and licentious behavior associated with it on the Common.”
Croquet, bocce, and beanbag sets can be borrowed for free on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Wharf District Park, located between Atlantic Avenue and High Street, Boston. Find more information here.+ Comments