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?
You can read more about toys, including the Harborough Toys, in the Leicestershire Museum Collections website.