So now that I'm home and back to researching and writing - and given that 1 March is a dull day in Tudor history, I find myself excited to dive into the history of billiards, and its somewhat surprising Tudor connection! Bear with me and my random thoughts today as I explore what this popular game looked like in 16th-century England.
King Louis XI of France owned the first recorded indoor billiards table towards the end of the 15th century, and based on description, it looked quite different from the tables we know today - featuring a single hole in the center (more like a raised putting green). Sometime within the following century (during the Tudor period) the tables transitioned into a much more recognizable setup. They varied in length from seven-to-ten feet, and were typically made of stone, covered in green velvet, and featured raised and padded ledges of two or three inches high to keep the balls from escaping the table. Six holes (called 'hazards') were positioned at the four corners and in the center of both long sides, just as it is today. As already mentioned, the sticks used for the game were not the recognizable cues that we now use, but maces that more closely resembled a golf club - meant for scooping or pushing the balls, instead of striking them. Eleven balls - likely made of ivory - were used in play.
- "History and Rules for Medieval Ground and Table Billiards" by THL Aurddeilen-ap-Rolet (2013)
- Wikipedia page for "Cue Sports"
- "History of Pool" (medium.com)