Not many people know that there was a thriving Quoits team in Henfield at least up to the 1930s, possibly up to 1935. Henfield museum has an account written by Betty Charman (nee Fry) who lived in Malt House Cottage on the common. Betty and her sister used to watch the players from their upstairs window. The game was played on pitches opposite Lavender Cottage, each pitch consisted of two metal pins or Hobs set in a clay bed 3ft in diameter, known as an ‘end’. The Hobs were up to 18 yards apart. They were looked after by Harry Banfield who lived in Alma Cottage. Part of Harry’s job was to make sure the clay was well watered so that the quoits would dig in and stay put, so they could be measured.
Teams consisted of two or four players who took alternate throws; the aim being to cover the Hob with the quoit or to knock your opponent’s quoit out of the end. Ringing the hob would score two points, while the quoit nearest to the Hob at the end of play scored one point. Each player had two quoits and the game finished when the first team reached 21. Great skill was exercised in the throwing, and a skilled player could throw in such a manner as to knock his opponents quoit from the Hob and replace it with his own. The quoit was a flattish ring of cast iron or steel with an external diameter of between 8.25 inches and 9.5 inches and an inch or two broad. It is convex on the top (hill) and slightly concave underneath, the downward curving outer edge being sharp enough to cut into the soft clay. They vary in weight from 2lbs to 6lbs.
Henfield museum has three or four sets of quoits, one of which is on display. So please come in and have a look and feel how heavy they are. The photograph above shows the Henfield Quoits team, possibly taken in the mid-1920s. Can you name anyone? This photograph is on display in Henfield Museum during February. I would like to thank Maureen Fletcher for the photograph, as her grandfather was part of the team. Could this be the next sporting craze to take off in Henfield?
STEVE ROBOTHAM (ASSISTANT CURATOR)
Taken from the February 2017 edition of The Parish Magazine.
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