Tuesday, 7 August 2012
Butcher's Arms, Eldersfield, Gloucestershire
Variously known as Step Quoits, Table Quoits, Dobbers, and Evesham Quoits (in the Evesham area not surprisingly); this traditional pub game can be found in a broad swathe from Evesham to the Welsh Borders. A handful of leagues still exist, but even where the game is not played so competitively, Quoits Boards still appear to be quite common in the areas pubs. I recall playing on an old quoits table at the Maesllwch Arms Hotel at Galsbury near Hay-on-Wye in the early 80's, I wonder if it's still there.
The basic premise of the game is fairly obvious and easily learnt, though the rules vary widely across the various regions where the game is traditionally played. Four black and white rubber Quoits are tossed at the board from a set distance, those falling squarely in the outer ring scoring 1 point, 2 for the inner circle, and 5 for the peg (or Hob) in the centre. Additionally, the quoits must land white side up to score. Simple and mildly addictive, like all good pub games.
This fine old board was in situ at the Butcher's Arms when the present owners took over, and is still played regularly, particularly on Friday evenings when the locals get competitive. How seriously is the game taken here? Well let's just say that the licensees have acquired a spare table with original leather quoits, which they use for practise sessions! Most boards, including modern versions, are painted in the traditional red and green livery, and this one shows vestiges of the old colour scheme, worn down to the wood through generations of play.
The Butcher's Arms is noted for it's Michelin starred food, though I'm pleased to say that it is still very much a pub, with good beer and a pleasant garden for a Summer drink.