Monday, 9 April 2012

Jackson Stops Inn, Stretton, Rutland

The game of Pitch Penny is just about as simple as it's possible to get in pub gaming. Throw or 'pitch' a number of discs or coins at the target of a hole cut in a bench, and score the number which successfully go in. Simple, yet needless to say, fiendishly difficult. It's perhaps this combination of simplicity of design, and difficulty in mastering, which has led to the decline of games like Pitch Penny in the face of more sophisticated games such as Pool. There are still one or two strongholds of the game, including the Sussex version known as Toad in the Hole. The excellent Jackson Stops Inn in Rutland is another such stronghold, so much so that a World Championships is held every May. The game is known locally as Nurdles.

The game itself is located in the small Snug Bar of the pub, hidden beneath a cushion when not in play. A lead sheet protects the back of the bench from excessive wear during play, and a small drawer below the hole is there to collect the scoring coins, which are a collection of old English pennies. A full set of rules for the game can be found on the adjacent wall.

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