Harborough Museum

Harborough Toys

Dating from the early 17th century, a unique hoard of more than 200 toys was found behind a bricked-up stairwell in St. Dionysisus Church in the centre of Market Harborough. The toys include whip-tops, tip-cats, small balls and sap whistles.

Dating from the early 17th century, a unique hoard of more than 200 toys was found behind a bricked-up stairwell in St. Dionysisus Church in the centre of Market Harborough. The toys include whip-tops, tip-cats, small balls and sap whistles.

They were made from wood, pig’s knuckle bones and fabrics, all easily obtainable materials to children who had to make their own toys long before such things were mass-produced.

Tip-cat, a game where children have to hit a small stick with a bigger stick, has been popular for hundreds of years. It was often seen as a nuisance, even before health and safety rules took the fun out of playground games. As late as 1853 Punch magazine commented ‘This mania for playing at cat is no less absurd than dangerous…’

Could this hoard be confiscated toys taken from children causing trouble around the church more than 300 years ago?

Opening hours

Tuesday - Friday: 10am to 6pm

Saturday: 10am to 4pm

Sunday - Monday: Closed

Free entry


Contact details

Tel: 0116 305 3627

Address: The Symington Building, Adam & Eve Street, Market Harborough, LE16 7LT

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