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Ready, steady, go! The role of sport for Epilepsy Society's first residents


8 August 2016



The Olympic Games are under way in Rio.  Last week, Epilepsy Society hosted 84 competitors at our very own Phoenix Games.  England is winning cricket and the English football season has kicked off.  Sport is truly in the air. 

Epilepsy Society has always promoted sport and physical activity. The Chalfont colony, as it was known, was based on epilepsy authority Sir William Broadbent's theory that an outdoor life and intellectual and physical activities were “a very great help in the restoration of nervous equilibrium, and in the occasional cure of the disease.”

During the first few years of Colony life the spare time activities of the male colonists and attendants were organised through a Sports Club, but at a meeting in 1901 it was decided that this should be subsumed into a Recreation Club for all sports and amusements.  Each colonist paid 1d. a month and fines and prizes also added to the funds. 

The Club's crest featured the wings of Mercury for hope and comfort, his staff for support and snakes for healing.  Below were the words 'Do thy best', the Colony motto. 

The men had more opportunity to get out and about as there were about 25 cricket and football matches each season and some opposing teams lived up to 12 miles away. 

Note how the Rep of the Recreation Club links the club logo of Mercury's symbolism to the health-giving effects of sport on young men with epilepsy.

We're not sure what we could expect to see at an 'Exhibition of Indian Club' or a 'Dumb-bell Drill', least of all a 'perambulating piano'!

Everything on the programme looks like fairly recognisable, standard sports day events.  Until you get to number ten: 'Open Pig Hunt'.  We really couldn't say what the rules were for that one!

After trawling through the history of the Society, there was very little information about women enjoying sport - and certainly not becoming successful in sport like today's Jessica Ennis- Hill or Paula Radcliffe.  We suspect they were too busy doing the men's laundry!