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Hot Cockles and other Christmas Pastimes

Hot Cockles and other children's gamesIn this article we look at Joseph Strutt and his book of somewhat dangerous games such as Hot Cockles and Hunt the Fox. Joseph Strutt (1749–1802) was an English engraver, artist, antiquary and writer, born in Chelmsford, Essex. In 1770 he became a student of the Royal Academy, and in the following year secured both a gold medal for oil painting and a silver medal “for the best Academy figure.” He wrote the Regal and Ecclesiastical Antiquities of England, followed by other works on the manners and customs of the English people, including the well known tome The sports and pastimes of the people of England from the earliest period. In an article for The Telegraph, Nick Britten writes of a copy of the book which was recently found in a house in Staffordshire. The “book, dating back to 1801, shows that a game popular with families at Christmas 200 years ago involved placing your head in someone’s lap while guessing who was hitting you from behind. The game, called Hot Cockles, was a variation of the classic Blind Man’s Buff, also a well-loved pastime with our Victorian ancestors… a far cry from the tradition of families gathering to play a board games such as Monopoly together on Christmas Day. Strutt’s “traditional” games, many of which have long since fallen victim to the march of technology, included names such as Baste the Bear, Duck and Drake and Puss in the Corner. The latter involved four children, each standing in the

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