"Stanford's grasp of current affairs was generally confined to First Division croquet"
Croquet 1864
Public DomainCroquet 1864 - Credit: Winslow Homer 1864

Croquet is a lawn game for two or more players in which balls are driven with mallets through a series of wickets arranged in a course.

The game is believed to have originated in France in the thirteenth century.  The name may have come from croche, or the ‘crooked stick’ that was used prior to the mallet. The rules for the modern game have been established since the 1850s. Originally the English version of the game was called Pall Mall, from the Latin palla mallens, ‘ball and mallet’ until the Routlege’s Handbook of Croquet was published in 1861.

Modern croquet equipment
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeModern croquet equipment - Credit: Winnywinn
Many variations of croquet exist. These include: roque, English croquet, American lawn croquet, association croquet, golf croquet, and even (a personal favourite) Captain Moreton's Eglinton Castle croquet (possibly devised after a G&T or two).

In 1868 the All-England Croquet Club was formed at Wimbledon, London. However, after only ten years of play, attention switched to the latest fashionable game, tennis. The club converted its name and all but one of its lawns to tennis courts and croquet has been a minority sport ever since. The English headquarters for the game is now in Cheltenham.