Established in 1725, Barnes Bowling Club continue to play with just two woods, whereas the modern game is played using a set of four 'Henselite' bowls. The Club has 90 members and its season runs from May to September each year, with competitions throughout the season; in recent years competitions have become increasingly popular as members battle for the coveted trophies boasting the names of many club celebrities.The Bowling Green is sited in a walled garden behind the Sun Inn adjacent to Barnes Pond. Our game is played on an undulating green full of natural bumps and slopes, unlike today's modern game which is played on either a 'flat green' or 'crown green'. The Club supports the local community, local events and Barnes Fair Day, the Club also has its own ‘International Day’ where guests are welcome to join members is what is traditionally a great day out for all. Pictures from recent International Days can be reached from the main menu.Bowled Over - The Definitive Story of BowlsA book written by Hugh Hornby includes a two-page case study on Barnes Bowling Club. The only surviving pub green in the whole of London and the oldest overall in the capital, the BBC has a unique place in the story of bowls and is one of the most important sites of Britain’s sporting heritage.To learn more about this interesting pastime you can visit Wikipediato see how the game has evolved over the years. You can read about the history of this ‘Elizabethan’ type of bowls too, by downloading a copy of the BBC History.Searching the internet for ‘Elizabethan Bowls’ also draws many references to the game as played in ‘Shakespearean’ times.
Slightly faded, members pose for the Barnes Bowling Club in 1910
100 Years later, members pose for Barnes Bowling Club in 2010
Barnes Bowling Club - A Unique Heritage AssetReprinted from Prospect Magazine December 2015The Barnes Bowling Club green is the only surviving pub green in the whole of London, and the oldest green overall in the capital. At a meeting at the OSO Arts Centre on 4th November 2015, some 60 members and friends of the Barnes Bowling Club (BBC) heard about Barnes’ unique place in the story of bowls. The evening, under the Chairmanship of Jeremy Frearson, the Club Secretary, was prefaced by a history of this sport – one of Britain’s oldest - and its distinctive identity. Speaker Simon Inglis is author of the ‘Played in Britain’ series of books about sport in conjunction with Historic England (what most of us know as English Heritage). Indeed, the distinctiveness of the English identity is now defined by Historic England as much by the sports we have invented and introduced to countries all over the world as by our buildings, parks, gardens and art. Simon was joined on the platform by Hugh Hornby, whose book ‘Bowled Over’ provides the definitive story of bowls in all forms of the game, and includes a case study on Barnes.
Hugh defines bowls as a game played on grass aiming at a Jack (a small ball) using larger ‘biased’ (i.e. non-spherical) woods. The authors’ extensive fieldwork has identified many variations of the game played on different greens around the country, with their age determined by a number of arcane factors, for example whether the Jack itself is biased; the composition and degree of bias of the woods; and the shape and evenness of the green.Although the earliest reference to bowls in Barnes is the 1693 Parish records listing a ‘cottage and land called the bowling green’ next to Barnes pond, the Sun Inn green probably dates from around 1775 – while the Lewes Castle green dating from 1639 can claim a form of the game recognisable to Sir Frances Drake.But the Barnes green has a number of distinctive features – highly-biased Lignum Vitae woods, with games played ‘corner to corner’ across an irregular rectangular green likely unchanged since the 18th Century – that, the speakers say, make it one of the most important sites of sporting heritage in Britain. As such, the speakers encouraged efforts for the green to be recognised as an Asset of Community Value; indeed, Simon and Hugh consider the green so important that they would join the village on the barricades to prevent any threat to its survival.Authored by William Mortimer