The Knighthood

SOUTHAMPTON (Old) BOWLING GREEN, THE KNIGHTHOOD COMPETITION (Previously known as Samuel Miller’s Silver Medal Competition) 

One of the claims of Southampton (Old) Green Bowls Club is that it hosts “probably the oldest continuously played bowls competition in the world”. Originally, and as today the prize for winning the competition is a solid silver medal. Because of this the competition was initially called the Silver Medal Competition and because as likely Samuel Miller is known to have “given is medal” it was often called Samuel Millers Silver Medal Competition. Some-time later the competition was renamed “The Knighthood”. There is no exact information as to when or why this change occurred.  

The first noted reference to The Knighthood was a report contained within The Hampshire Courier 7th August 1815 which stated “on Tuesday being 1st August the Silver Medal was played for by the members of the Bowling Green, in this town, and won by Mr Ed Rudd. Mr Osbaldiston, father of the green, then proceeded according to custom to invest him with the order usually conferred on the successful candidate, and in a neat speech congratulated him on his success, and concluded with the usual ceremony of rise Sir Edward, Knight of the Green: After which the worthy Knight returned his sincere thanks for the honour conferred upon him and assured the Father and other subscribers of the Green it would be his utmost ambition on all occasions to attend to the discharge of his duty………The company then retired to a marquee erected on the green and partook of an excellent supper”. 

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There is a greater certainty as to the commencement of the competition as 1776. Currently our information supporting the claim is as reported in The Hampshire Chronical. A report dated Saturday July 27th 1776 has written beneath it “We hear that on Thursday next a silver medal will be bowled for, by the subscribers to the bowling-green in this town”. The same newspaper on 5th May 1777 published the following “Thursday last being the first of May the gentlemen subscribers to the bowling green met according to annual custom and after diverting themselves with that healthy and agreeable pastime, they adjourned to a tavern and spent the evening; when Mr Miller aged 82, being president and father of the green, proposed that a silver medal should be bowled for on the first of August next which was unanimously agreed to”. These two items describe the start of the new bowling seasons of 1776 and 1777 with the after game meetings agreeing that a silver medal is to be played for.  

Monday 4th August 1777 reported “yesterday being the first of August, the Gentlemen subscribers to the bowling-green, met at the Half moon Tavern, where an elegant dinner was provided by Mr Miller, as president of the society, and father of the green, being now in his 83rd year of his age, who gave is silver medal to be bowled for, according to annual custom. After drinking success to the green, many years of pleasure to the father, and several toasts, they proceeded to the bowling-green, where every bowler exerted his abilities, and after some time the number of bowls was reduced to six (being allowed the best) and at the close of the afternoon, the medal was declared by the umpires in favour of Mr Robert Deal; after which they adjourned to the Half Moon and concluded the evening with the utmost harmony”.  

The above newspaper reports confirm that in 1777 the competition was played for “according to annual custom”, confirming that the competition was started prior to 1777.  

Sadly Samuel Miller died just a few years after the advent of the competition and it was reported again in The Hampshire Chronical Monday August 6th 1781, under the heading Southampton Saturday Aug 4th “Wednesday lait being first of August, the gentlemen of the bowling-green met according to the annual custom, and bowled for Mr Millers Silver Medal, which was won by Mr Brice, wine cooper. When the diversion of the day was over, they adjourned to the George inn, and spent the evening in friendship and harmony. Sunday last was interred the remains of Mr Miller aged 86, who for upwards of 60 years was patron of the green. He died lamented by all who knew him, as he was upright, honest and religious man. What is remarkable is that he had seven children, who are all living and married, the youngest 50 years of age; he has left behind him 35 grand and great grand-children. His children’s ages together, amounts to 390 years and his grand-children’s, to 664 years.” 

The club recognises the part that Samuel Miller, a former sail maker, played in his 60 years or so bowling at the place we now call Southampton (Old) Green, in his efforts towards the organisation and day to day running of the “society”.  

Over time, the rules of the competition appear to have changed slightly. Initially it appears that umpires were able to decide the winner (at least in 1777) and adjusted the number of bowls/competitors towards the end. This may have been that in those early years, the competition was completed within one day, whereas today it has to run its’ course until a “gentleman commoner” scores the required seven shots.  

No doubt the silver medal was presented either immediately after the competition was completed, at the bowling-green, or at the “after competition” celebrations taking place at whichever tavern or inn was chosen. These days there is a specific installation ceremony which takes place at the bowling-green, the first Friday in September, during which a silver medal and chain are placed around the neck of the winner. Later after engraving a new silver medal it is presented to the winner during the club’s presentation evening on the last day of the bowls season. 

Whereas up until 1850 the competition was always played on the first day of August as per annual custom, this changed throughout time, moving to the first Wednesday afternoon in August (it was believed that this was to convenience those with small businesses which closed Wednesday afternoons). Today it commences on a Wednesday afternoon mid-August, with one session being bowled prior to adjourning for dinner with our guests. This is followed by an evening session from 6 p.m. until light permits. As required there may be further sessions Thursday and Friday evening commencing 6 p.m. and a session on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, before recommencing Monday and Tuesday evening. Accordingly past rules did not permit any other games to be played throughout the duration of the competition, nor the green to be cut. These days, with permission from the Senior Knight, the green may be cut and games are occasionally played (not at the same time, but coincidently) within the duration of the Knighthood.  

In the past, to commemorate a major anniversary, a gold medal was struck and played for (normally a week or so after the completion of the Knighthood). This proved to be too expensive in modern times, thus instead, commemorative games against the English Bowling Association were arranged 

Of late the date of the Knighthood is normally advertised well in advance as it does now qualify as a unique occasion which is as much part of Southampton’s history as the Bowls Green. It is often announced on local radio, advertised in local press and of course on line. The competition has been televised on a number of occasions and was recently the subject of a visit from a film crew from Israel, who spent the morning filming a re-enactment of the seemingly world famous Knighthood Competition. Southern Television and local students from the University have often filmed the spectacle. Recently the celebrity Antiques Roadshow visited our club and were shown various papers pictures and our collection of returned Knights medals. 

Come the day of the start of the competition, on a Wednesday afternoon, seats are set out in front of the Club-House. Some are reserved for the special guests and officials who form a part of the “opening ceremony”.  

As the competition is open to male members who have not won the competition previously they gradually assemble within the clubhouse suitably dressed as per competition rules. After registering their wishing to take part with the secretary of the club, they can be seen partaking in refreshments as did the members of old. Within the confines of our club, these competitors are known as “Gentlemen Commoners”.  

Very shortly the Knights begin to appear within the clubhouse. The reason for a slight delay in arrival as compared to the “Gentlemen Commoners” is that they too have to dress according to custom. As such they wear pin stripe trousers, a long tailed coat, waistcoat, white shirt, grey/silver tie, top hat and their silver medal. Again the bar is the place to get ones refreshments and chat over the competition opening ceremony, and who is the likely favourite to win this years’ event. On occasion a book has been established to facilitate the odd friendly wager. It seems that we are not very good at predictions or bets as nobody actually backed last years’ winner “sir” Joshua. As such all proceeds were added to the Masters’ Charity Fund. 

Suddenly an air of seriousness and perhaps nervousness can be felt in the club. Word has got around that the Mayors’ car has parked outside our green gate. The Mayor and their party are met by the Vice-Master and escorted into the club-house and introduced to the Master, members of the committee and the Senior Knight. The Sheriff has also arrived and is similarly introduced. Almost unseen the Town Crier arrives and the ritual of confirming his words and their order within the opening ceremony is undertaken. His words will be the opening words of the competition, thus it is very important to get off to a faultless start. 

Some more refreshments, a final check that all are dressed correctly and as the time approaches the spectators take to their seats, the Gentlemen Commoners join them outside the Club-house. The ring of a bell by the Crier, “Oyez, Oyez, Oyez” “Hear Ye this. The time is 3 hours after High Noon on …. In the reign of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth 2nd. The occasion the …. (number of competition) Knighthood Competition at the oldest bowling green in the world. The contest is about to commence. Gentlemen Commoners, Ladies and Gentlemen please receive the Knight in charge accompanied by the Master of the Old Green, The Mayor Councillor, The Sheriff Councillor and the attendant Knights in the accustomed manner”. The Master then leads out the entourage on to the green to the regular hand clap of the spectators. The Knights appear in twos, removing their top hats as they step onto the green. They then form a line either side of the Senior Knight (the longest serving Knight in attendance) before replacing their hats. The Master of the Green/Club welcomes our distinguished guests and all spectators prior to wishing the Gentlemen Commoners good luck and handing the green over to the Senior Knight by giving him the measuring stick and the jack. From this moment until the end of the competition, the Rules and matters of etiquette are of those laid down by the Knights. After thanking the Master, the Senior Knight addresses the “Gentlemen Commoners” and places the bowls mat where he decides and invites the Gentlemen Commoners onto the green to commence the competition. If the Master is not a Knight he will have the honour of the first bowl. 

The Senior Knight will then lead the Knights to where he wishes to place the jack and he places a 1775 half-penny at that point (it appears that the Knights were not fortunate enough to obtain a 1776 penny to commemorate the foundation of the competition). On top of the penny he places the jack. The jack is of a size used by past generations measuring 2.75 inches diameter as compared with a modern jack of 2.5 inches. It has a flat cut on its base to ensure that it does not roll off the penny apart from when being hit by a bowl. The Jack is placed upon the penny as it is always returned to that position if a bowl happens to hit it causing it to move. The Knights congregate behind the jack so as not to hinder the Gentleman Commoner about to bowl.  

Before we commence with the game, it is worth noting some key people who oversee or aid in the competition. The Senior Knight dictates the mat and jack positions and generally manages the whole event. This may not necessarily be the same person as the title Senior Knight identifies the longest serving Knight of the Green available at that time and place. He may if he wishes delegate his duties on occasion. One of the more senior Knights will undertake the duty of measuring how far a bowl is from the centre of the jack. Traditionally he measures with a four feet long wooden ruler which is calibrated in eighths of an inch. The measure is taken from the closest edge of the bowl to mid-point of the jack. The second longest serving Knight available will keep a record of each bowl played throughout the competition and the distance from the jack. At the completion of each end he will convey which “Gentlemen Commoners” have second and best bowls plus the distances from the jack. He conveys this to the third most senior knight who will, with megaphone call out these details to the gentlemen commoners and spectators. Before he calls out he must ascertain as to whether there are any others who wish to take part in the competition because the “Gentlemen Commoners” are permitted to drop out or join into the competition at any time. After each end has appeared to finish, he has to ask the traditional question “Are there any more to bowl”? If a new competitor joins the competition he is added to the register and score sheet and takes part immediately. The Junior Knight has the dubious honour of receiving the bowls after they have been bowled, and lining them up in the correct order in readiness for the next end. (There are photographs within the clubhouse of earlier Knighthoods where young “ball boys” have carried out this duty previously). The next two Junior Knights assist by collecting the bowls. These three Junior Knights are given crooked handled walking sticks to manoeuvre the bowls with. Finally there is the Club Secretary who maintains the off green score board, a chalk-board containing the names of those bowlers who have a winning end and how many “shots” they have scored. 

The mat placed, the jack placed, it is time for the first bowl of this years’ competition. As stated previously, if the Master is not a Knight, he shall have the honour of the first bowl. If not the order is as per the Gentlemen Commoners order of registration. Each competitor has two bowls. He bowls the first and if the bowl is likely to finish close to the jack the Knights will walk forward without touching the bowl or jack, forming a crowd, so as to block the view of the Gentlemen Commoners and if possible the spectators. A measure takes place whilst the view is blocked, it is quietly conveyed to the Knight with the record sheets. A measure of two and six is two and 6/8 or 2 ¾ inches. The bowl is passed back to junior Knight to place in order. The Knights return to their position behind the jack to permit the second bowl to be rolled. The next competitor will then take his turn with two bowls. If a competitor’s first bowl is “heavy” or running too far past the jack, the Knights permit it to finish its course, thus giving the bowler opportunity to adjust “the weight” of the next bowl. After all of the Gentlemen Commoners have bowled their two bowls and the immortal question “are there any more to bowl”? is unanswered, the Knight will speak through the megaphone. He will initially announce who bowled the second nearest bowl and measurement from jack centre. He will then announce the winner who has bowled the nearest bowl and the distance from the jack centre. The winner will be awarded one shot, however if he also has the second shot he is awarded two shots. Other than that circumstance the bowler of the second nearest bowl does NOT receive a shot. 

Once the result of each end has been announced it is recorded by the Club Secretary onto the off green chalkboard.  

The best possible shot is a “Lodger”. This arises when a bowl dislodges the jack from the penny and comes to rest upon the penny. Looking straight down over the bowl it should not be possible to see any part of the penny. The second best shot is a “Toucher” which is a bowl that becomes a toucher to the jack which is on the penny, or the penny can be seen. Thereafter it is a measure from the edge of bowl to centre of jack, to decide the nearest bowl. 

Should the end be drawn i.e. two (or more) players both/all have a Lodger, or Toucher, or equal measurement, there is a play off between them. The winner of the play off will be credited the winner of the end and receive one shot (in this instance he can only achieve one shot even if he has two nearest woods in the play-off). 

The winner of the end will then bowl the first bowls of the next end. This takes away any advantage in being able to watch previous bowls and gauge “line and length”. This also after the Senior Knight has laid down the mat and placed the penny and jack in totally different position and of a totally different length. You can imagine the difficulty with the constant adjustment that the competitors have to make. It seems to give excuse for much banter among the Gentlemen Commoners who appear to have a most enjoyable time bowling and commenting on others bowls.  

At the other end however it is not quite so comfortable. If it is a hot day the Knights have to cope with the thick clothes of tradition. The sweat forming from under the brim of the top hat, the two layers of coats and shirt holding in body heat. If it is raining the competitors may put on their waterproof jacket and trousers, whereas the knights may only have the protection of an umbrella if they have had the foresight to bring one. The other most usual (quiet) complaint is of an aching back. Where the Gentlemen Commoners are fairly active in bowling their bowls and are able to occasionally sit on the bench seats which surround the green, the Knights have to stand throughout the competition, only moving to crowd out the view of the measurement. So they have to devise ways of dulling the aches and distractions from time.  

Occasionally when the junior knights are relaxed and least expecting, one of the more senior knights (after measurement) will propel the wood into the junior knights neat line of woods, scattering them and causing mayhem as the correct order must be remembered and replaced. Occasionally a Knight will leave the green (only of course for strict reasons), as he leaves and re-joins the green he will doff his hat and announce Knight leaving or Knight returning to the green and his fellow Knights. 

The winner of the Knighthood is the first competitor to achieve 7 shots. An easy feat one may think, but not necessarily so. On many occasions the competition has taken days to arrive at a winning score. It is recorded that the 200th competition, which was uninterrupted by weather took 8 days to complete. A record 72 ends were bowled which accounted for 4,500 bowls being delivered. I would say the average time to win the competition would be 4 days. Only once in modern times has the competition been won in the one session, being in the year 2000 when Ken Dow achieved seven shots during the Saturday afternoon. Being one of the younger members Ken had to contend with work commitments and as such was unable to take part in the Wednesday opening session, nor the evening sessions Wednesday to Friday. Another rarity of modern times was the achievement of Mike Rich in 1997 who achieved the seven shots within one day (This being the two sessions of Wednesday, the opening day). 

When a bowler has reached the 7 shot victory target and the question has been asked “are there any more to bowl?” with no reply, the second nearest bowl and winning bowl are not announced as in previous ends played. Instead the Knights form a line with the Senior Knight leading and the Junior Knight at the rear. They then walk across the green towards the Gentlemen Commoners, where the Senior Knight congratulates the winner of the competition announcing him to be Knight Elect. Hearty congratulations are then given out by Knights in turn, Gentlemen Commoners and Spectators before all retire to the clubhouse and the Knight Elect treats his fellow competitors to the first round of refreshments. Quite often if it has been a close competition the winner does not know that he has won until told by the Senior Knight.  

One of the cruel aspects of the competition is that a competitor may appear to have won the competition by achieving the seven shots required, but when the question was asked “are there any more to bowl?” a late coming Gentleman Commoner has replied yes. On bowling his two bowls he draws closest to the jack and negates the bowl which would have counted and given that original competitor 7 shots. This happened to a really nice man who had been trying for many years to win. In our hearts we would all have liked Ken Smith to win, but in our brain exists the overpowering will to win. 

It is clear from the past newspaper reports of the competition that whoever won the competition received their medal on that same day. Even with the first evidence of the title Knight in 1815, the presentation of the medal and investing the winner was on the same day. In modern times this has changed as there is a ceremony entitled the Knighthood Installation which normally takes place the first Friday in September commencing six o’clock in the evening.  

Again the ceremony is attended by the Mayor, Sheriff, with a Town Crier (all dressed in their ceremonial attire). Once more seats are arranged for spectators, but on this occasion seats are reserved for our special guests and the family of the Knight Elect. The Knights again appear in the traditional attire of pin stripes, tailed coat, top hat, waistcoat, tie and their Knighthood medal hung from their neck on blue ribbon.  

Once the Crier has opened the ceremony he asks the Master, The Installing/Senior Knight and the attendant Knights (with the exception of the Junior Knight) to enter onto the Green (If the weather does not permit this, the ceremony takes place under the cover of the Club-House). They assemble in the usual manner, behind an ornate chair (almost throne like) known as the installation chair. The Master will welcome all and introduce the Installing Knight (generally the Senior Knight). The Crier will then ask all to receive the Junior Knight accompanied by the Knight Elect. The Junior Knight will escort the Knight Elect around the backs of the assembly to the Installing Knight and state “sir”…… I introduce to you Mr ……., Knight Elect to receive at your hands the benefit of being installed a Knight of the Old Green. The Knight Elect will then sit on the Installation Chair which is facing the spectators. 

A fairly long ceremony ensues where the history of the green and the competition is stated.  

Then the actual installation commences and the Knight Elect is asked to kneel on the installing chair facing the Installing Knight. He is told of his honorary title of “sir”, his wife’s title of Lady, his addition to the Knight’s Roll of Honour. If challenged to a game of bowls by a Gentleman Commoner he is compelled to accept the challenge. An ornate chain and silver medal is placed around the neck of the Knight Elect “The medal I have here bears the same inscription as did the first one in 1776 Win it and Wear it meaning that until you have won it you have no right to wear it but having won it so well, may you long be spared to wear it with honour and pleasure to yourself and advantage to the Old Green. You will be required to produce your medal three times each year at the request of the Master; Opening Day; Medal Day and Closing Day”. The Installing Knight then dubs the Knight Elect with the words “Be Loyal – Be Brave – Be True and then Rise “sir”……… Knight of the Southampton Old Bowling Green”.  

The Crier shouts out “Three Cheers for the New Knight “sir” ……. All respond. 

The final say is with the New Knight who will generally invite everybody to join him for an evening meal, as likely a buffet. It is customary that the new Knight arranges this meal, either providing for it himself or asking for the club to provide an “American Supper” for which most of the members contribute items of food to make up a wonderful feast.  

The new Knight also provides drinks for the Knights in the form of a couple of bottles of spirits, mixers and soft drinks. These are placed in the men’s changing room where a table is set for the Knights. Once all have refreshments and our distinguished guests are seated, the Knights (other than the new Knight) retire to their prepared table within the men’s changing room. Settled, and at last an opportunity to relax at least for all except the Junior Knight, who has to serve drinks and ensure that glasses and ice etc. are available.  The Senior Knight will instruct the Junior Knight to invite the New Knight to join them and escort him in. Good food (including a traditional fresh salmon) and merriment are had whilst one or two traditions are completed. All Knights personally congratulate the New Knight and offer him advice. A framed certificate declaring the win and details of the competition is presented to the new Knight. 

Of late, when the Knights have finished eating, the Mayor and Sheriff are invited to join them for a drink and on occasion family members are permitted. 

Once the discussions and merriment within the men’s changing room has concluded, the Knights, Mayor and Sheriff re-join the members and guests within the main hall to enjoy the remainder of the night. By this time most of the Knights are only too glad to rid themselves of the thick cumbersome clothes in favour of “civvies” or club uniform. 

At the end of the evening, the new Knight returns the chain and medal and has to await presentation of his own, personal medal until closing day. The reason being that in later times each Knight is asked to identify an event which has taken place during that year, so as to have it engraved on his medal. This quite nicely provides a competition history as medal number, year and name are also engraved (together with “win it and wear it”), but also gives an insight to the social history.

 

The Closing day consists fittingly of a game between Knights of the Old Green and Gentlemen Commoners. The match includes all members including the female members. I use this term as you may recall that the wives of the Knights have the title “Lady” and as such, if they bowl, can be selected on the Knights team. All remaining female members play on the Gentlemen Commoners team. In addition, Hampshire County and Local Association Presidents and wives are invited to attend and play. 

After the game all retire to the main hall and partake in drinks and a meal prior to the presentation of the year’s competitions. The first trophy given out is that for the match just completed (Knights v Gentlemen Commoners). The trophy is unique as it depicts a “see-saw” type configuration with a top hat on one side (depicting the Knights) and a bowler hat on the other (depicting the Gentlemen Commoners). The Captain of whichever team wins is presented the trophy and adjusts the trophy so that his hat (either top hat or bowler) is in the highest position, where it will remain until the following year. 

The Next trophy presented is the Knights Medal to the New Junior Knight. By now the medal will have inscribed on it an event of his choosing. 

SOME NOTABLE YEARS OF THE COMPETITION 

1776 Samuel Miller started the Silver Medal Competition 

1784 The oldest medal (No. 9) in the possession of the Club. Won by Thomas Wright. 

1798 Medal No. 23 held at the club. On the reverse side it states “On this day Admiral Nelson defeated the French Fleet at the mouth of the Nile & took nine sail of the line and a frigate” 

1814 Medal No.39 “England with her allies dictated in the city of Paris peace to France”  

1815 The first known mention of a winner being “Knighted”. The medal had inscribed reference to victory at the battle of waterloo by Wellington and the British heroes with Prussia’s brave Glucher and her gallant son’s. The medal number is 40 and was won by John Drew Senior. 

1851 Medal No. 76 inscribed “Being the year of the great exhibition” was won by John Colson 

1875 A gold medal to commemorate the centenary of the competition was won by “sir” T Payne. This took place in September and was contributed for by 16 members of the club. As such it was played for by Knights and Gentlemen Commoners. 

1902 Medal No. 128 is inscribed “Coronation of King Edward 7th” 

1926 A medal to commemorate the 150th year of the competition was won by E Rudgley. Again this took place after that years Knighthood and as such bears no medal number. 

1927 An international Honorary Knighthood competition was held. The winner was Charles W Tait of Dundee. 

1945 Medal No. 171 won by Herbert J Pascoe had inscribed on it TOTAL SURRENDER as World War Two finally came to an end. Thirty Seven Gentlemen Commoners took part and sixty three ends were bowled  

1953 “sir” C W Arter is awarded medal number 179, on which he records proud detail of the Coronation of our Queen, Elizabeth ii. 

1973 The Knighthood competition was televised for the first time by Southern Television. 

1976 Two hundred years of competition and still going strong. Surprisingly there was no Gold medal struck to commemorate the event. This year the Silver medal number 202 was won by John H Jones. The event was celebrated with a game against The English Bowling Association. 

1997 Mike Rich won the competition in one day. He was presented with medal number 223 

2000 In this year the Knighthood was won within a single session by “sir” Ken Dow who is the only person to achieve this in modern times. He was presented with medal number 226. 

2002 David Bryant was given the accolade of undergoing an Honorary Knighthood Installation Ceremony and becoming an Honorary Knight of the Old Green “for his immense contribution to the sport of Bowls”.  

2015 saw the youngest ever winner of the Knighthood. Until fairly recently the rules did not permit young people under 21 years of age to take part. The rules were later changed to permit male members over the age of 18 to compete. This opened the door for our youngest member to win at the age of 18 years and…. Days. 

2016 A simulation of the Knighthood was filmed by an Israeli film company 

2017 The T.V. programme “Celebrity Antiques Roadshow” visited the old green to view the memorabilia and past knights’ medals. The expert attending was Kate Bliss and the celebrity was Geoffrey Whitehead who was presented with a club tie which he wore in a later televised edition of “Open All Hours” 

2019 A drone was used to take photographs from above of Knights just prior to commencement of the competition.

MYSTERIES OF THE KNIGHTHOOD COMPETITION 

The club claims strongly and confidently that the competition started in 1776 which is confirmed somewhat by the previously mentioned Hampshire Chronical report of 1777. Yet we do not know who won the first competition! One possible answer could be that it was Samuel Miller himself. He is given credit for starting the competition by supposedly providing the Silver Medal. The actual wording of the piece in the Hampshire Chronical of Monday 4th August 1777 is “Mr Miller being in his 83rd year who gave is Silver Medal to be bowled for, as is annual custom”. Again in 1781 the newspaper reported that “they gathered to play for Mr Millers silver medal” .It is possible that this means that he had won the medal in 1776 and returned it for the next winner to wear the following year and so on. 

Was it the original intention to number each winners medal. The oldest medal returned to the club was that won by Thomas Waight Senior in 1784. The medal is numbered 9 but the 9 appears to be engraved differently to the other words engraved on the medal. Is it logical to start a competition numbering the original medal number 1 expecting the competition to run for many years? The newspaper reports 1776 and 1777 previously referred to suggest that votes were taken at the start of the season to decide whether a silver medal competition should take place. Thus it is unlikely the numbering of medals did not take place during the early years of the competition. Whilst that might well be the case, we do not see that there is anything wrong if the numbering did not occur on the original medals as there is solid evidence to support the commencement and continuation of the competition. Medals received after 1784 had consistent engraving. 

Each medal is given a number yet when we compare medal numbers with the years played, the math does not tally. The reason for this is that in 1863 James D Deal won the required 7 shots but refused to take part in the Installation ceremony. As was his entitlement he was given his medal, but was not installed as a Knight of the Old Green. The competition was replayed 27th August and this time John White Junior won and was installed as a Knight. Although recorded as medal number 89 “sir” John White Junior’s medal was inscribed as medal number 88 which is also the medal number recorded to James D Deal

Knighthood Installation of 'sir' Martin Oliver 2014

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