The game of marbles was invented by the 7th Earl of Elgin while on holiday in Greece and quickly became a popular pastime among the landed gentry of Victorian England.

Modern marbles is now largely confined to northern England, especially Yorkshire, where semi-professional leagues compete for silver trophies in the shape of whippets, rhubarb and hats. Some public schools still play marbles, mainly because they can use the words ‘plonker’ and ‘knickers’ without being given extra fagging duties.

The French game of boules is based on marbles, but being French, it involves a great deal of eating and drinking, and the outcome of the game itself is largely irrelevant. This form of the game is recommended for pensioners.