Croquet We tend to think that all genteel pastimes are the domain of the English aristocracy but croquet was actually invented in Ireland in 1830. The sport evolved from golf and was introduced to England in the 1850s in the best country houses and became popular later in outposts of the British Empire, namely Canada, the USA and Australia. The French also took it up with enthusiasm. The sport was officially included in the 1900 Summer Olympic Games for the first and only time. Today, it is most popul ar in England and the most famous club is the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, which is responsible for running the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. There are many international matches and world championships, where Great Britain, the United States, New Zealand and Australia dominate. For most people however, hitting a wooden or plastic ball through a hoop with a mallet is a pleasant way of spending a sunny afternoon. There are numerous versions of croquet with different methods of keeping score and court layout. The two main games, Association Croquet and Golf Croquet each have a set of rules that international competitions abide by. Egypt is the most successful participant in Golf Croquet, which is said to be a simpler game and easier to play. Other versions exist, including American Six-Wicket Croquet, the most popular game in America and one that is generally considered to be very challenging. Bicycle Croquet was developed in Austria and is popular with cyclists. The sport has also become extreme with players enjoying the game in the woods, across rivers and in mud or sand! Even more bizarre, is the game of Mondo Croquet. This follows the rules and traditional layout but on a much larger scale. Sledgehammers and bowling balls are used and the annual World Championship takes place in Portland, Oregon. All this is done with players dressed up as the Mad Hatter from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland story, which contains a passage where characters are playing the game. Carroll describes a game using a hedgehog for the ball, playing cards for the hoops and a poor flamingo for the mallet. Other writers and artists have included the game. Many landscape paintings show the game being played in pastoral settings, in pictures by Edouard Manet, Winslow Homer, Pierre Bonnard and Norman Rockwell. TV shows have also shown the game, as in Star Trek Voyager, The Simpsons and Knots Landing.