Our 2023 season will begin late April / early May with details provided to members through the Club’s email. During the summer months we have a Club Evening each Wednesday from 5.30pm and prospective members are welcome to come along and try their hand at Elizabethan Bowls!
How to Contact the Club
For all enquiries, membership and others please Contact: Barnes Bowling Club. Finding the Club: 7 Church Rd, London SW13 9HE.
A Walk through Barnes Bowling Club History
The Bowling Green is sited in a walled garden behind the Sun Inn adjacent to Barnes Pond. The game is played on an undulating green full of natural bumps and slopes, unlike today’s modern game which is played on either a ‘flat green’ or ‘crown green’, more akin to ‘Elizabethan Bowls’, back in ‘Shakespearean’ times and maybe as far back as the medieval era.
Established in 1725, Barnes Bowling Club continue to play with just two woods, whereas the modern game is played using a set of four ‘Henselite’ bowls. Our woods have an usually high bias of 12/13 degrees which promotes much more turn that today’s conventional woods. Other clubs with truly ancient origins – such as Chesterfield (c.1290), with its “oldest green in the country”, and Southampton (c.1295) – play a game similar to our own. This has led many to believe that the green at Barnes could also rank among the oldest in the country.
Records suggest that our green pre-dates the coming of the Sun Inn, a pub being established on this spot by the early 1800s, when the property was bought by local brewer John E. Waring. Back in 1723, according to one record, there were on this site two customary dwellings, two gardens, a barn, one stable and 3 orchards. One of these private gardens may have been the bowling green dated by The Shell Book of Gardens to the 15th century. During the 17th and 18th centuries, puritanical attitudes frowned on games such as Bowls being played in public places, but by 1805 a change of mood allowed the Sun Inn to incorporate the private green into its public premises.
Elsewhere in the country, there were a handful of other bowls clubs that continued to play by the old pre-1840 rules. The club possesses a pair of wooden bowls bearing a plaque commemorating a game played in 1892 between the Kings Arms at Dereham and the Victoria Arms at Norwich. It is known that the Dereham Club, established before 1858, played a game very similar to our own, using wooden bowls with a high bias.
Written by Hugh Hornby, Bowled Over includes a two-page case study on Barnes Bowling Club. “The only surviving pub green in the whole of London and the oldest overall in the capital, the BBC has a unique place in the story of bowls and is one of the most important sites of Britain’s sporting heritage.”