Played at the Pub – the Pub Games of Britain

  • By: Arthur Taylor
  • Format: 184pp softback 210mm x 210mm
  • ISBN: 978 1 905624 973
  • Published by English Heritage in August 2009
  • Special offer: £10 post-free to UK (original RRP 14.99) BUY NOW


Aunt Sally in Oxfordshire, toad in the hole in East Sussex, daddlums in Kent and bagatelle in Chester – they sound like relics of a bygone age, and yet, contrary to popular belief the pub games of Britain live on, in all their infinite variety and eccentric splendour.

True, such games as knur and spell (the poor man’s golf), peggy, billets and nipsy (once played by Yorkshire miners), appear to have died out in recent years, joining in the history books such former favourites as loggats, bumblepuppy, guile bones, noddy board, slide thrust, fox-mine-host and the mysterious ‘milking cromock’.

But new games emerge all the time, so that nowadays regulars are just as likely to be entering pub quizzes, playing pool or poker, or even the French game of pétanque, an 1960s import which now goes down a storm in Rochdale.

Even that pub staple, the standard trebles dartboard, is a relative newcomer, having appeared on the scene only in the 1920s. By comparison, the likes of quoits and skittles, cribbage and shove ha’penny have been with us for centuries, despite Henry VIII’s killjoy attempts to ban them all.

They late Arthur Taylor published his first study of pub games in 1976, updated it in 1992, and with Played at the Pub brought us his most extensive study so far, complete with stunning contemporary images taken at some of the loveliest locals in the land.

So if you have ever wondered why some dartboards in Manchester look funny, or where firing a gun will not get you thrown out of the snug, or if you are still in the dark when it comes to the Dorset flop and dwile flonking, put down that pint and let Arthur put you straight.

One warning though – this book does contain nuts.

” ..the definitive work on British pub games. Buy it! Read it! Enjoy it!” Pub History Society

“invaluable and entertaining… a gem of a study” Western Morning News

“marvellous… this book does full and wonderful justice (to pub games) and I shall treasure it” Hampstead & Highgate Express

“a cornucopia of weird sport” Manchester Evening News

Arthur Taylor spent most of his working life as a producer/director at Granada TV, and much of his spare time going to the pub. Travelling the country, and also much of Europe, he developed a strong passion for games, culminating in the publication of the highly influential Guinness Book of Pub Games in 1992. He won a Budweiser Budvar Travel Bursary in 1998 for his Good Beer Guide to Northern France, and was Glenfiddich Drinks Writer of the Year in 2001 for a portfolio of articles in the CAMRA newspaper, What’s Brewing. Arthur’s other books include Brass Bands (Granada, 1979), Labour and Love – An Oral History of the Brass Band Movement (Elm Tree, 1983) and Spring on the Somme, A River Journey (Constable, 1995). Before his death in 2022, aged 83, Arthur recorded a number of interviews about his long and varied career, available on