(Inspired by the horrible revelations of Country-House Horseplay in “Vanity Fair.”)

Punch, September 26, 1906


To Let.—Hooligan Hall. Noble Elizabethan Manor-house, replete with every modern convenience. Finest banister-sliding in the South of England. Special dark nooks on every landing for jumping out on unsuspecting friends. Doors fitted with J. Miller’s Special Brainy Booby-Trap Apparatus (1906 model). References invited to fashionable preacher and satirical novelist.

For Sale.—Stout Dining-Room Table. Admirably adapted for modern country-house. Formerly in the possession of the usual “well-known hostess.” Has borne the weight of three fourteen-stone heirs to earldoms, dancing the Mattchische simultaneously after dinner. It was on this table that the Sportington Manor house-party beat the butler‘s team at the Eton Wall Game.

Pillow-Fights.—The Sangazure Pillow-fighting team (strong) would like match, away, early in October. Hon. Sec. Lady Claude Footle.

Leap-Frog.—Seats to witness the final of the Home Counties Families Mixed Leap-Frog Championship in the Baronial Hall at Cheeryble Castle may now be booked.

Squirts.—Try our long-distance squirts. No visitor to a country-house should be without them. Invaluable to indifferent conversationalists. Awkward pauses at the breakfast-table filled up in a manner causing great fun and laughter. Squirts!

The Beginner’s Jiu-Jitsu.—Price 1s. A handy hand-book. Learn the holds, and practise them after dinner in the drawing-room.

Novice” writes:—“A week ago I did not know a Half-Nelson from a grape-nut. I bought your book; and to-night I have just laid out one Duke, four Baronets, and five sort-of-cousins of a Marquess.”

Chairs! Chairs!! Chairs!!!—Try our patent collapsible chairs. All guaranteed to let the lightest person down on the floor. The speed of the fall can be regulated. Why pull your friend‘s seat away when you can buy a patent Collapsible Chair? The Duchess of Blank writes, “I use no other at Rib-tickle Towers.”




Unsigned article as printed; credited to P. G. Wodehouse in the Index to Vol. 131 of Punch.




“When Father Vaughan attacks a certain set for their tendency towards ‘horseplay at country houses’ he by no means exaggerates,” says a writer in Vanity Fair. “The country house season is now in full swing, and the play which is sometimes indulged in is in many cases merely of a rough and boyish description, such as leap-frog; but there are other frolics which are not so innocent. A girl . . . told me she was staying with some people and after dinner, in the billiard room, a man came up to her and said ‘Do let me weigh you, Miss X. I will carry you across the room.’ She laughingly and quite good-naturedly refused. He then actually said ‘Well look here, if you don’t let me carry you I shall empty my whiskey and soda down the back of your pretty white frock.’ A moment later he actually turned at least half his whiskey and soda down the back of her neck, amid roars of laughter from everyone.” (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, September 27, 1906)

John Dawson