Sport: On Henry VIII's Benches

Oldest, strangest and most patrician indoor court game is court-tennis, played with curved rackets shaped like little shovels, and hard, heavy balls. During the 16th Century, the game was so popular that people said there were more court-tennis players in Paris than ale-drinkers in England. One Englishman, Henry VIII, liked it so much that he had a court, with benches in the dedans (netted opening in the wall) for his courtiers, built into Hampton Court. Court-tennis has preserved its prestige at the price of its popularity. Henry VIII's benches are still in...