Not only did the 10th Duke of Beaufort give us the Badminton Horse Trials, but in 1873 his grandfather, the 8th Duke of Beaufort (1824-99) introduced the sport of ‘badminton‘, named after the Beauforts’ Badminton estate in Gloucestershire. Badminton is now one of the most popular racquet sports in the country.
British military officers and civil servants had been playing outdoor ‘shuttlecock’ in India since the 1850s and had added a high net along the centre of the court. When they returned to England in the 1870s, the game went indoors wherever halls were available, due to the weather. Clubs began to be established and standard rules drawn up, with a national badminton association formed in 1893.
Women have had as much success in the sport as the men, even in its early decades when the ladies had to play in long skirts. Husband-and-wife team Chris and Gabby Adcock may be the latest British badminton stars, but they are preceded by champions such as Nora Perry, MBE (1954-), Gillian Gilks, MBE (1950-), Betty Uber (1906-83), Kitty Godfree (1896-1992) and Muriel Lucas (1877-1962), winner at the first All-England Championships in 1899. With thousands of courts available to hire throughout the UK, the Beauforts can be proud of their sporting legacy.
(Image of international match between Derek Talbot, MBE (1947-) on the right and Wolfgang Bochow: Gesellschaft für Kieler Stadtgeschichte at Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0)