Archery in London: the good old days

8 March, 2013

Great piece from The Londonist about archery practice in London in the good old days.  If I want to shoot after work I have to head at least three miles north of the river. 450 years ago I could have strolled down the road with my longbow and got busy – in Tudor Englynde people shot at ‘standing pricks’ in the middle of the City. [Insert your own joke here]. I think they were just tall posts or marks to shoot at; people still do things like that today:

As for the ‘standing pricks’ bit, well I know that post-Chaucerian English was far, far bawdier and ruder at all levels of society than it is now (post Puritans / Victorians). Such a ‘hilarious’ comparison wouldn’t have seemed nearly as rude back then – witness the Shakespearean double-entrendres of a generation or so later.

London was of course a walled city in those days. You have to look long and hard for traces of the wall now, although the gate names on that map above such as ‘Moor Gate’ and ‘Byshoppesgate’ are still very much in use. The Londonist get a mild smack on the wrist for the oft-repeated assertion that the famous mandatory archery practice laws are still in force in the UK, when they were actually repealed a looong time ago.

‘Fynnesbury Fields’ only remains as Finsbury Square, near to Liverpool Street station.

4 comments on “Archery in London: the good old days

  1. Fern Slack - Missing Marble

    John, where DO you find this stuff?!! Great post. Love the old archery practice law.

    Hey, did you know that in the old archery manuals, men were instructed to wear their quivers on their right hips because their swords were on their left? The times, they are a’changin… 🙂

    But I have to ask: what exactly IS a standing prick? (No comments from peanut gallery please, this is a serious question. Really. It is. I mean it. Shut up.)

    1. takotsubo

      Have edited the piece to include a reply to your question. Well, kinda, anyway… As to where I found it, someone was kind enough to post it on my Facebook wall.

  2. Pingback: “Archery was the sport that led to most deaths…” « The Infinite Curve – an archery blog

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