Those included here are also from the Odhams Children’s Book from the fifties. But the ‘Parlour Game’ is not necessarily for children, it is in it’s most basic form a group game to be played indoors.
During the Victorian era in Great Britain and in the United States, these games were extremely popular among the upper and middle classes. They were often played in the parlour, or best ‘public room’ hence the name.
During the 19th century, the upper and middle classes had more leisure time than people of previous generations.
This led to the creation of a variety of things to do at home that would allow these indolent ladies and gentlemen to amuse themselves at the less formal social gatherings or the private party. (Stop that childish giggling at the back there please! It’s not big and it’s definitely NOT funny!)
Boxed parlour games became very popular, especially around Christmas, during the 20’s which continued well into the 60’s. But from then on parlour games began to have serious competition, initially from the wireless (radio), movies and then television.
It is now possible to play all manner of games in a virtual environment, to find a music track or movie or TV show on demand from any point on the globe that has access to the technology.
Though decreased in popularity, parlour games continue to be played. Some remain nearly identical to their Victorian ancestors while others have been transformed into board games such as Cluedo, Mouse-trap, Trivial Pursuit and Balderdash.
Some, such as charades, also involve dramatic skills! Fill your boots Shakespeare!
But most do not require any equipment beyond what would be available in a typical parlour/sitting room/family room.
Though competitive it is not really necessary to keep score while the length and ending of the game is typically not set either, allowing play to continue until the players decide to end the game or do something else instead.
So the next time you find yourself at home and at a loose end, call on a friend, three or four if possible, dig out a ball of string, a thimble, a blindfold and a pack of cards and just let the games commence.
Why should the children have all the fun?