On how to make a shove ha’penny board

Rouser 2012
Rouser 2012

ROUSER’S recent musings about the ancient Sussex/West Country game of Shove Ha’penny have brought a rejoinder from one Trelawney Dayrell-Reed. Well, one can’t argue with a man sporting a name like that!

He wants to explain just how a Shove Ha’penny board should be made - to provide a surface on which the noble coin game can be played. He has a way with words:

‘There are many who esteem a slate board above all others. From these I differ. Slate is too susceptible to atmospheric change and invariably drags in damp weather. Further it is very rare to find a slate of consistent density throughout and when this is not the case the Ha’pennies will have a tendency to go slow in one part and shoot forward in another; importing into the game an element of hazard which should never enter ....

‘Soft woods, and those with wide grain, are unsuitable; of the remaining sorts, walnut and mahogany are the most readily procurable.

‘Let us assume that, taking my words for it, you have decided on a mahogany board. Now we come to the making of it.

‘This is the right way, as sanctioned by the highest authorities. Having acquired a spare leaf from a Georgian dining table, preferably someone else’s, choose that part having the straightest grain and cut from it a rectangular oblong some twenty-two inches long and seventeen inches wide, making sure that the grain runs parallel to the length of the board. Next, affix a stop of wood along that end which you shall appoint to be the top, in order that when you shoot your coins they may remain on the board ....’

Rouser has had enough Mr Dayrell-Reed. The best advice for would-be players is to purchase an already well worn-in board and then get on with the game over a pint.

Pictured, a board at the ready, with accompanying refreshment.