Description

Traditional blood sports such as bear and badger baiting, bull running and dog fights were principal recreational activities during the 18th century that appealed to all the social classes. Cock fighting though always remained the most prominent blood sport, not least because it was considered both an important plebeian past-time and an essential part of a gentleman’s leisure pursuits. Cock-fights traditionally took place in inns and taverns, but were also held in specially adapted cockpits, that included a wooden platform on which the fight took place, surrounded by tiered wooden benches for the eager spectators. Birds were produced in hidden bags while bids were raised for and against the opponents, until such point as the animals were ready for the battle, each wearing silver spurs. The ensuing fights were blood-thirsty and violent. One report from the 18th century describes the feathers and blood that flew about, while all around were ‘great shouts of triumph and monstrous wagers’ among the spectators.

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