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bowls is one of the oldest and most popular of all sports and like many others blossomed in late Victorian Britain: London, which had only one municipal green in 1895, had 76 by 1907. The modern game developed when biased bowls were brought into use, permitting considerable tactical play. Hereford has a bowling green within the city walls which is said to date from the 15th cent. and to be the oldest in existence: James IV of Scotland had a green at Holyrood palace in the early 16th cent. Standard rules were drawn up in 1848–9 by W. W. Mitchell, a Glasgow solicitor, and were widely accepted. The Scottish Bowling Association was formed in 1892, the English in 1903, and the International Board in 1905. Crown green bowls, played on a convex green, was popular in the midlands and north. By 1914 there were said to be 600,000 crown green players in the north of England, competing for considerable money prizes. The English Bowling Association, strong in London and the south, remained resolutely amateur. Indoor bowls has made much progress in recent years, partly through the advent of television.

J. A. Cannon

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bowls Game popular in Britain and Commonwealth countries, in which a series of bowls (woods) are delivered underarm to stop as close as possible to a small white target ball (jack). A point is scored for each bowl closer to the jack than the best opposition bowl.