Monday, 14 November 2011

Book of the Week (14th November 2011)

When is a book not a book?  When it’s a backgammon board!  This quirky piece of furniture, enabling games of both chess and backgammon, often goes undetected by those browsing the Library’s shelf of parish church bibles.  It was donated (among other books) to the Cathedral from a collection of books originally in St Nicholas’s church in Worcester.  Its ecclesiastical provenance reflects the popularity of both games (particularly backgammon) among the clergy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  The eighteenth-century poet, Soame Jenyns, wrote that when one visited one’s local clergyman, one might expect to find

“Choice books, safe horses, wholesome liquor,
Billiards, backgammon, and the vicar”.

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