Mail (pall mall)

Jeu de mail was played in Italy already in the 15th century. The game deceased on a day in 1939, when the last player returned home sadly from the mail field, because there were no playing partners anymore.
It is not known how the early mail clubs looked like. The first pictures and descriptions of the clubs show that they were rather different from the clubs, used in the kindred games colf, crosse and golf.
Click here to find out what has been discovered about the clubs, once handled by kings & commoners.

As long as the game of jeu de mail existed, the game was played with a wooden ball. Unlike colfers and golfers, mail players were never tempted to switch to ‘hairy’, feathery’ of synthetic balls.
Click here to get to know more about the long lasting use of wooden mail balls.

In the post from April of this year, we showed our research about the long and short game as played in the game of golf; in the previous one of May about the long and short game as played in colf. Today we would like to show you the difference between the long and short game of mail.
Here you find the story of mail.

On a toujours regardé le jeu de mail comme un jeu pour des gens courtois qui se détendent pour quelques heures sur le jeu de mail.
En annexe, deux anecdotes du jeu de mail aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles à Orange dans le sud de la France.
Il y a des personnes qui profitent, il y a des autres qui disent n’importe quoi, même des personnes bien élevées, avec des conséquences fatales.
Ici vous trouverez ces deux histoires.

In the course of the years, golf historians have written so often that golf is a royal game. Most golf history books emphasize the strong relationship between kings and golf, hence the ‘Royal and Ancient’ game. This indication has become a kind of trademark. It is remarkable that most British royals never played the game.
Without the shadow of a doubt, it is certain that the noble game of mail could have claimed the trademark ‘Royal and Ancient’. Most French royals were more or less avid mail players.
For details about the royals and their ‘palmail’ click here.

In the history of European stick and ball games, women and children have hardly ever played a more than marginal role. It took until the end of the 19th century for women in sports to become notable, often under the patronage of men.
During the many centuries of the existence of the games of crosse, colf, mail and golf not much has been written, drawn or painted of women and children playing these games. It was far more the exception than the rule when references were made in words or pictures to women and children hitting balls with a club. Certainly for ages these games were considered (by men) as being unsuitable for women. Playing in the streets, churchyards, fields and in and around the towns was not an acceptable environment. In the Middle Ages, cursing, swearing, drinking and fighting were more common.
If you want to know more about women in mail history click hear.

En Europe, le jeu de mail était un jeu très populaire chez les rois et les aristocrates pendant les 16ème, 17ème et 18ème siècles ; aujourd’hui il est oublié complètement. De temps en temps, il y avait un écrivain historique qui était attiré par l’histoire de ce jeu. Un de ces historiens était Louis Edouard Fournier, archiviste-paléographe de la Bibliothèque nationale, qui a écrit un livre sur les jeux, jouets et amusements avant 1900. Dans ce livre, il a consacré un chapitre à l’histoire intéressante du jeu de mail, lequel vous trouverez ici .
Bonne lecture !

On the 26th and 27th September 2013 the European Association of Golf Historians & Collectors (EAGHC) held its 8th annual conference at the Royal Golf Club Ravenstein near Brussels.
During the two days presentations were given about different golf history subjects, alternated by discussions about collector items, ancient hickory golf clubs, ancient golf books, some good meals and a round of golf on the breath-taking, more than 100 years old course.
Our contribution to the conference was a presentation about our research to find the ancient jeu de mail courts in France and other European countries.
If you are interested, you’ll find our presentation here .
Happy reading!
If you would like to know more about the EAGHC and its activities, please contact

Le 26 et le 27 septembre 2013, l’Association Européenne des Historiens & Collectionneurs de Golf (European Association of Golf Historians & Collectors [EAGHC]) avait sa huitième Assemblée générale au Royal Golf Club de Belgique Ravenstein à Tervuren aux alentours de Bruxelles.
Pendant les deux journées, des présentations sur des sujets différents de l’histoire du golf, ont alterné avec des discussions sur des pièces de collection : des anciens clubs en bois de hickory (noyer blanc d’Amérique), des anciens livres sur le golf ; quelques bons repas et une partie de golf sur le parcours remarquable entre une collection fabuleuse d’arbres.
Notre contribution à l’assemblée était une présentation de notre recherche sur des anciens courts de mail en France et dans d’autres pays. Si vous êtes intéressés vous trouverez notre présentation ici .
Bonne lecture !
Si vous souhaitez en savoir plus de l’EAGHC et ses activités, contactez

The game of mail originated from Italy and crossed the French border around 1550. The game caught on quite well especially with aristocracy and bourgeois. All over the country mail alleys, both private and public, were constructed.
The interest in the game outside France remained rather limited, although in most European countries mail alleys were constructed between 1600 and 1700.
Until recently not much was known about possible mail activities in Switzerland. Nevertheless both in the French speaking part of the country as well as in the German speaking part jeu de mail or ‘Mailspiel’ was played by aristocracy, bourgeois and common people.
The Swiss have used the longest mail playing field in the world. This terrain was 23 kilometres long.
Please click here to find out more about mail in Switzerland
From ‘Games for Kings & Commoners’, Part II, to be issued in 2014

The last few decades it seems that more and more attention is paid to the history of the golf related games colf, crosse (choule) and mail (pall mall).
However, more than a hundred years ago renowned golf historians have written about these golf-like games. The information provided in these articles has never been picked up by later historians other than just a few sentences in the margins of their publications.
It is interesting to read what one of the nestors of golf history research, Andrew Lang, wrote in the October number of the year 1909 in the Blackwood’s Magazine about the French game ‘jeu de mail’.
Have a look at The Sister of Golf under the heading ‘Mail’ on this web site.
Happy reading.

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