Claire Voon takes a fascinating look at engraver Joseph Strutt's illustrations of strange medieval party games, many of which involve beating the hell out of other guests.
The games were rendered by Strutt, who took pains to create 39 hand-colored, engraved plates of these activities. Each entry includes a set of lengthy instructions for play as well as poems inspired by the games. Some inclusions are expected, such as hunting, hawking, archery, jousting, and theatrical "mummeries," also known as mummers' plays; others are more unusual, including Strutt's examples of Hot Cockles. One variation of the painful pastime features a woman with her face buried in another's lap as her tittering friends slap her head; another is even more mysterious, depicting an individual who totes a chicken while balanced on a stick propped up by two players. Another man trails the peculiar procession, ominously brandishing a stick.