Dover's Hill is home to the Cotswold "Olympick Games". The games began somewhere between 1604 and 1612 and have continued on and off to the present day. Different sources provide different starting dates for the games, but most sources refer to 1612.
The "Cotswold Olympicks" was founded in 1612 by Robert Dover, long before the modern Olympic Games had been established. The Cotswold version still takes place on the first Friday after the Spring Bank Holiday. The Games are held in a spectacular natural hollow on Dover's Hill above the town, from the top of which views over the Vale of Evesham can be seen on a fine day.
The games were organized in 1612 during the reign of James I of England on Dover's Hill in the town of Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. The games were originally organized by attorney Robert Dover as a protest against the growing Puritanism of the day. These sports were referred to by contemporary writers as "Mr. Robert Dovers Olimpick Games upon the Cotswold Hills". The games were held on Thursday and Friday of Whit-Week, or the week of Whitsuntide, which would normally fall around the middle of May to the middle of June. They continued for many years until about the time of Dover's death.
The games were quite a spectacle for the day. Robert Dover presided over the games on horseback, dressed ceremonially in a coat, hat, feather and ruff, that originally belonged to the king. Horses and men were abundantly decorated with yellow ribbons (Dover's colour), and he was duly honoured by all as king of their sports for a series of years. Tents were erected for the gentry, who came in numbers from all quarters, and refreshments were supplied in abundance. Tables stood in the open air, or cloths were spread on the ground, for the common folk.
Mounted cannons were fired off to begin the events. Competitors were summoned to the hillside by the sound of a hunting horn, and there took part in various sports.
Seventeenth-century fights, whether for sport or anger, sometimes resulted in maiming or death. In a fight between Sir German Poole and a Mr. Hutchinson, Poole cut off three of Hutchinson's fingers before he had even drawn his sword. In revenge Hutchinson sliced off Poole's nose, picked it up, pocketed it and went off with it so that it could not be sewn on again. It was the mean attitude in taking away the slice of nose, not the fact that it was cut off in the first place, which made this particular contest the subject of gossip.
The prizes for these activities included not only silver trophies but also yellow favours which as many as 500 contestants could win. The games were very popular throughout England and attracted visitors from all strata of society. Some people reportedly travelled up to 60 miles to see the games.
The king himself had heartily approved and supported the games. Earlier, in his popular book of advice to his son, Basilikon Doron (1599) he said that in order to promote good feeling among the common people towards their king, "certain days in the year would be appointed, for delighting the people with public spectacles of all honest games, and exercise of arms".
Source: Some of this text can be found on Wikipedia. See their license details
Dover's Hill Photographs
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Dover's Hill Parking
Dover's Hill is open all year round and entrance is free of charge.
There is a free car park.