Pall mall

From Academic Kids

Missing image
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Pall mall illustrated in Old English Sports, Pastimes and Customs, published 1891

Pall mall (pronounced pal-mal or pell-mell) or palle maille was a game played in the 16th and 17th centuries, and a precursor to croquet. The name comes from the Italian pallamaglio, which literally means "ball-mallet". It was played in a long alley with an iron hoop suspended over the ground at the end. The object was to strike a boxwood ball of about 1 foot (30cm) in circumference (about the same size as a modern croquet ball) with a heavy wooden mallet along the alley and through the hoop with the fewest hits possible.

Pall mall was popular in Italy, France and Scotland, and spread to England in the 17th century. The name "pall mall" refers not only to the game, but also to the mallet used and the alley in which it was played. Many cities still have long straight roads or promenades which evolved from the alleys in which the game was played. Two such in London are Pall Mall and The Mall. When the game fell out of fashion, some of these pall malls evolved into shopping precincts, hence the modern name of shopping centres in the USA: shopping malls; others evolved into grassed shady promenades, still called malls today.

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