An explanation of the dominant factors that shaped recreation before 1800
Before 1800,there were a number of different aspects that shaped recreation. Among them were ‘attitudes to sport’ and ‘recreation’.
Attitudes to sport and recreation changed vastly through the last fifty years of the nineteenth century. The seasons and countryside no longer influenced the recreational activities for most people, although the gentry (leisured class) continued to hunt, fish, and shoot as generations prior to them had done. The gentry had often owned the land which gave them the necessity of time and space-which was absolutely essential for recreation.
Hunting, race meetings and estate cricket matches in the countryside had commenced as they had before 1800. Sport played a special role of a long established tradition of estate/rural life. The lord of manor was master of his own individual domain, and also the local activities based around it. The local of squire was not to be dictated to by any inhumane curate, no mater of their positional status-whether they be working -class or aristocrat who practised abstinence.
The influence of the church was another dominant factor that shaped recreation before 1800. Prior to the 1800’s, the lord of manor was exceptionally powerful and on frequent occasions would determine whether an activity or recreational event would commence or not. The main reason for this was that many labourers were strong Christians and depended on the lord of manors’ approval when participating in recreational activities.
The role of Combat Sports was mildly significant before 1800, as it was a way of preparing young men to be knights in service of their king/lord-it was also a way of training them for frequent wars. Jousting tournaments would often attract the most attention, as Knights would be suited up in tin garments, given a jousting stick (in which they used to remove their opponent) and a shield (which was used to withhold the attack from their opponent). The Knights never used to get paid for it; in fact, it was the exact opposite- they used to fight for honour of the public audience and for enhanced reputation. Contests including the quarterstaff would involve classes of significant power and strength. Activities that would take place are foot races, wrestling, stone throwing and athletic events.
The peasantry participated in:
* Blood sports
* Contests e.g. archery, quarterstaff
* Rebound games off pub/church walls
* Festival games e.g. power games, foot races
The gentry similarly, had the same sporting agenda only they would occasionally be more sophisticated. Only ever in ever in cricket would the upper and lower class collaborate on a sport. Cricket was more significant to the lower class as it was to the upper. An average cricket team would often involve the squire, schoolmaster, parson and a varied selection of local village men combining to withstand the challenge from the opposing neighbouring village. Basically, cricket was the only obvious sport in which both peasantry and gentry would combine.
I have proved that there were a significant amount of dominant factors that had shaped recreation before 1800. Amongst those, which I haven’t mentioned, are The Age of Enlightenment and Recreational Characteristics (both upper and lower classes). I have gathered that although the peasants worked throughout the week they still made time to participate in recreational activities, it was as if they were still at work only not getting a wage at the end of it. The gentry made the point that as long as you’ve got the key essentials for recreational activities then you could take part as you wish- time and space.