For July 16, 2009


Newly open at Steyning Museum is their summer exhibition on sports games and leisure through the ages entitled Didn’t We Have Fun.  And there is plenty of fun on display.

The earliest ‘entertainment’ is represented by the archery practice which was compulsory at butts (targets) down in Shooting Field some thousand years ago.  The main period covered is from the 1800s down to the 1970s – remember those space-hoppers?

The display is divided into two broad topics, ‘Parties’ covering the more organized and town-wide events, and ‘Fun’ featuring the more informal activities.

Our ancestors it seems would get a party together on any pretext, and throw themselves into the spirit of the occasion with typical Victorian gusto.  There were concert parties, fox-hunting and ferreting, picnics, jubilees and street parties for other royal and national occasions, pub outings, tea parties, fishing and croquet.  More for sheer jollification there were carnivals with fancy dress and in 1920 a Gipsy Fair – somehow the hilarious costumes and fun times shown in the usually somber and serious sepia photographs make an incongruous contrast.

In the ‘Fun’ department we find things long gone and others still with us.  Traditional skipping to local songs and maypole dancing are rarely seen today, nor are marbles, diabolo, spinning tops, hoops or brick throwing!  And how we miss the glorious Beeding ‘Wangers’, trap ball champions of 1910!  Survivals include dolls and prams, bikes and scooters, golf, tennis, and walking races – although the pancake race, and three-legged races with photo-finishes in the men’s and ladies’ events perhaps need a revival.

Many photographs and exhibits will raise a laugh and bring back happy memories to all generations.  Any visitors must leave with a smile on their lips and their sense of fun tickled – there may even be some expeditions to the loft to dig out those long-forgotten roller-skates.

Steyning Museum is open 5 days each week - 10.30 to 12.30 and 2.30 to 4.30 (4.00 October to April) on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday plus Sunday afternoons and Bank Holiday Mondays.

David Haseldine,
Publicity Officer,
The Museum,
Church Street,
West Sussex
BN44 3YB

Telephone: 01903 813333

Pancake Race
Is it time to revive the pancake races?


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16th August 2021