The Cotswold Olimpicks; spelled here the old fashioned way, were founded four hundred years ago in 1612 by a country lawyer named Robert Dover. He wanted to revive the ancient Greek games for fun and enjoyment for all. The original Cotswold games included dancing, shin kicking, wrestling, backswords, spurning the bar and throwing the sledge hammer.
The Cotswold Olimpicks were supported by King James 1st after a while the annual event became celebrated in a book of poetry “Annalia Dubrensia” published in 1636.
It is from this event that the modern Olympics were born. When London hosts the 2012 Olympics the nation will also be celebrating its own 400 year anniversary of the first Olimpick games held in Britain.
Following with tradition, the Cotswold Olympicks are held each year on the Friday following Spring Bank Holiday.
This Years Date:
Dover’s Hill, named after Robert Dover, is owned by The National Trust and while watching the games you will have a wonderful view of Broadway in Worcestershire, the Vale of Evesham, the plains of the Severn and Avon and the Welsh mountains. What a view…
You can easily get to the Cotswold Olimpick Games by bus from the beautiful village of Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire. The bus will also bring you back from Dover’s Hill if you catch it early, or enjoy the late evening fireworks and return walking back with the torch light procession into Chipping Campden. If your still full of energy you can dance the night away in the village square.
The locals in
Chipping Campden are very friendly just ask them for any help or
information. The lovely lady in the high street book shop bought me up
to speed in about ten minutes! While you are in the book shop look out
for the book “English Olimpick Games” by Celia Haddon. This is where I
bought my copy...Update...the book shop is not there anymore, you can find the book online.
It’s a great book for history lovers and it’s short enough to read in a day, so you will have a good understanding of what’s going on before the first shin is kicked.
Shin Kicking and English Country Sports.
Today the Cotswold Olimpicks are host to many traditional English country sports. The program has included in the past a rural obstacle race, a five mile run, throwing the hammer, spurning the barre (similar to tossing the caber), putting the shot, standing jump, tug o’ war and shin kicking.
Shin kicking is a form of English martial arts and wrestling, shin kicking was very popular in the Cotswolds, Cornwall, Devon and the Lake District. At the Cotswold Olimpicks the game was about out-playing each other, instead of the Cornish or Cumberland ‘hug’ the contestants would hold each other at the shoulder and began kicking the shins to weaken the opponent to the ground.
The contestants wear a white smock which is traditionally warn by shepherds and are allowed to protect their shins with straw. The umpire or judge is called a ‘stickler’ because he carried a long stick to part fights safely. It is where we get the expression a ‘stickler for the rules’. The shin kicking contest is open to all those brave enough to enter.
If all this sounds a little barbaric, fear not, there is plenty more to do. You can get your face painted, watch bird’s of prey and Morris Men, see a collection of classic cars or watch people contorting their faces by Gurning. The program may change slightly each year but it will always be entertaining.
It’s all good fun, I highly recommend the Cotswold Olimpicks. The village of Chipping Campden is beautiful and is a must see for any English cottage lover and when combined with a fun, rural and historical event like the Cotswold Olimpicks there is no better time to go. I can only imagine how much fun the 2012 Olimpicks will be! Mark your calendar.
When my fiancée and I were at Chipping Campden for Cotswold Olimpicks we were waiting in the pub before the games and happened to meet the, at the time, current shin kicking champion Steve. He called himself 'Stupid Steve' as I do not care for a shin kicking I will just call him Steve;) My fiancée had seen shin kicking at the Cotswold games on a travel show and was thrilled to meet the champion. Steve was extremely friendly answering all our questions and after a few hours of banter we promised to cheer him on when he fought to regain his title in the shin kicking contest. We cheered him on until we lost our voices. Alas he did not win that year, but he made our day. Cheers Steve