Crosse (choule)


Some time ago we received from Pius Muskens (EAGHC) some cuttings from the Dutch journal ‘Golf’, August 1939. In this issue, J.A. Brongers, the then well known golf and colf historian, discussed a book published in 1718 about an exploratory expedition of Frézier, ‘the engineer of the King of France’, to Chile, Peru and Brazil (‘Reisbeschryving door de Zuid-Zee’ (Travel story through the South Sea) by Isaak Verburg). In Chile, Frézier saw Indians playing left-handed a kind of golf.
Brongers referred to a book called ‘Around Golf’, published in 1939, in which A.M. Vagliano refers to the game of ‘chôle’, played in France, in which game 30% of the players played left-handed, although they were not lefthanders.

01 chileen
During his exploration of South America in 1712-1714, Frézier saw Chilean Indians playing the game of ‘sueca’, hitting a ball with a curbed stick

As ‘Jeu de Crosse’ researchers our interest was aroused by what Vagliano wrote. We mailed Pius to ask him about the ‘Around Golf’ book, but he did not know it. Ayolt Brongers (EAGHC) from the Early Golf Foundation could not help us either. In the meantime we surfed unsuccessfully on the internet. However, we found that A.M. Vagliano once was a famous French amateur golfer and even the president of the French Golf Federation. So we contacted JBK, the former president of the EAGHC, the know-all of French golf. Alas, also Jean-Bernard couldn’t help us. But what he did know was, that André M. Vagliano was the father of our honorary president Lally Segard. He would contact Lally and ask her about the book and the literary qualities of her father. Impatient as we are, we also wrote Madame Segard a letter. Alas, she did not know the book nor the story her father once wrote. Also Henri Jakubowicz (EAGHC), a passionate book collector, did not have the book in his personal library and could not confirm us the existence of this article.
Although we were very disappointed, we didn’t give up. We continued surfing on the internet and suddenly: ‘bingo!’

02 marius carion
The Belgian artist from the Borinage Marius Carion showed the charm of the old miner’s customs. Also this player plays left-handed

In Calgary, Canada, somebody had the book and was willing to verify if the book contained a contribution of a certain Vagliano, describing lefthanders playing ‘chôle’. He confirmed that the book contained such an article, after which message we ordered the book. So now the book is ours and under Crosse we would like to share with you the contribution of André Vagliano about French Golf and French ‘La chôle’ in ‘Around Golf’.

03 vagliano
ANDRE M. VAGLIANO
No one has done more for the game of golf in France than André Vagliano. He won the French Amateur Open Championship in 1925 and has won the French Amateur Native Championship on numerous occasions. He reached the final of the President’s Putter tournament in 1931. He has captained the French golf team on many occasions. His wife has captained the French lady golfers, and his daughter, Lally, won the Girl’s Championship in 1937. – Photo and verbatim subtitle from the book ‘Around Golf’

In the history of the Franco/Belgian game of crosse, women hardly played a more than marginal role. It was far more the exception than the rule that references were made both in words and paintings or drawings to women holding a crosse club. For ages the game was considered (by men) as being unsuitable for women. Playing in the streets and in the fields in and around the towns or villages was not an acceptable environment. In the Middle Ages, cursing, swearing, drinking betting and fighting were very common.
Under Crosse you can find what we have discovered about women and the game of crosse. Happy reading.

livre d'heures

Since the game of golf caught the interest of (amateur) historians the world over, significant information has been found about the so called ‘feathery’ ball, probably introduced into the game around the beginning of the 17th century.
Although the related games on the European mainland are mentioned – sometimes as a kind of curiosity, sometimes as serious contenders for the origin of the golf – no serious research has been undertaken to get to know more about the balls used in the games of colf, crosse and mail.
We have made an attempt to find out more about the different balls used particularly in the game of crosse as played since time and age in the Franco-Belgian border zone.
Please click here to find the outcome of our research on the peculiar choulette crosse ball.

saint anthony

The 17th of January was once the special day to celebrate the patron saint of all crosseurs in the crosse region around the cities of Mons (South Belgium) and Maubeuge (North France) in the ancient county of Hainaut. On this day people from the region joined in a pilgrimage from Mons to the St Anthony chapel near the village of Havré to ask the saint for protection against the plague.
Also the many crosseurs joined in this pilgrimage holding proudly their crosse club over their shoulders. When they arrived after a walk of more than 10 kilometres they put a crosse club in the hand of the statue of St Anthony and they participated in a special mass.
After the religious duties in and near the chapel the people stayed to meet each other, to sing and dance, to drink and to play games. The crosseurs started to play their game in the fields around the chapel. The final target of the game was the door of the chapel. Late in the afternoon the crosseurs returned to Mons stopping at every tavern on its way to a traditional, copious meal of rabbit sprinkled with beer and wine. They sang over and over again the ancient song of St Anthony:

A Saint Antoine,                              On the day of St Anthony,
on va crocher,                                  we are going to play crosse,
avec ‘n soule et ‘n macquet.          with a ball and a club.

When diseases like the plague became more and more under control the interest in making pilgrimages to Havré dwindled and eventually stopped. The crosseurs however continued for many years to come to hold a pilgrimage to the chapel to celebrate St Anthony who had become their patron saint. After the Second World War when also the interest in the game of crosse declined as well as the interest in the pilgrimage to Havré.
Today the chapel is in a dilapidated state and the door seems to be definitely closed.

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