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Title: Popular recreations in English society 1700-1850
Author: Malcolmson, Robert William
ISNI:       0000 0000 8401 9753
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 1970
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This thesis is concerned with the character of popular recreations in late pre-industrial England, their place in society, and the changes they experienced during the period 1700-1850. The first chapter presents a descriptive survey of popular recreations in the eighteenth century. It focuses on two main themes: first, the principal events of the holiday calendar - parish feasts, pleasure fairs, hiring fairs, November the 5th, Christmas, Plough Monday, Shrove Tuesday, Easter, May Day, and Whitsuntide;and second, the most significant sports and pastimes of the common people - bull-baiting, cock-fighting, throwing at cocks, football, cricket, boxing, wrestling, cudgelling, and several other diversions. The second chapter examines the relationship between popular recreation and the larger society. It looks first at the social contexts of recreation and, in particular, draws attention to (a) the independent plebeian basis of some festivities, (b) the support which was often provided by genteel patronage and assistance, and (c) the recreational role of the public house. The second section of this chapter discusses some of the functional attributes of sports and festive occasions for the common people: the emphasis here is on recreations as outlets for tensions and hostile sentiments. The last two chapters are concerned with problems of change. Chapter III discusses the various attempts to suppress traditional recreations during the century before 1850. Special attention is paid to the attacks on animal sports, feasts, fairs, and football, and consideration is given to the motives and class biases underlying these attacks. Chapter IV is concerned more generally with the decline of popular recreations between the mid seventeenth and the mid nineteenth centuries. It concentrates in particular on some of the major trends which militated against the traditional practices: Evangelicalism, the increasingly rigorous attitudes concerning labour discipline, the enclosure movement, the decline of customary rights, and the breakdown of paternalistic habits. An effort is made here to relate the decline of recreations to some of the larger processes of social Change. Throughout the thesis, and especially in chapters II to IV, persistent emphasis is placed on the social relations which entered into, and gave shape to, the conduct of recreational affairs, most notably the relations between gentlemen and the common people. Recreations are seen, not in isolation, but in the context of the culture as a whole.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DA Great Britain ; GV Recreation Leisure ; HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform