Badminton House

Written by Geoff Hinder

                                                                          BADMINTON HOUSE

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Badminton House 1830.


Badminton House is in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. It is where the game of badminton was invented in 1863 or just before. The house is the private home of the 12th Duke and Duchess of Beaufort and the Somerset family. It dates from the 17th century and has many interesting and valuable paintings on display. Badminton House has some beautiful gardens and is set in a deer park which hosts the world-famous Badminton Horse Trials.

Battledores and old shuttlecocks in the North Hall at Badminton House.

Photo: – Frank Wilson.



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We know that the game of badminton evolved from the older game of Battledore and Shuttlecock because of an article called ‘Life in a Country House’ in the December 1863 Cornhill magazine. The Cornhill Magazine was a monthly Victorian literary journal. The relevant part to the game of badminton was: –

  “If the weather be such as to induce you to remain within doors, your co-operation will be sought for a game at pool, badminton (which is battledore and shuttlecock played with sides, across a string suspended some five feet from the ground), and similar amusements.”

This article about life in large English stately homes shows that the game was being played in England and called badminton in 1863, it also suggests that the game evolved from the older game of battledore and shuttlecock. The article shows us where the height of the net, five feet (1.52m) originated from, and those players played the game on either side of the net. The North Hall at Badminton House is the same size as a badminton court as we know it today, 13.4m by 6.1m.

North Hall at Badminton House.

Photo: –  Bernd-Volker Brahms.


The game of ‘battledore and shuttlecock’ dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries. The roots of the game have been reported to go back to ancient times in China and other Asian countries. The game was played with rackets, battledores and even wooden paddles. ‘Battledore and shuttlecock ‘was played without a net and without the boundary lines of a court. If a single player played, they would hit the shuttle in the air counting the number of times they could do this without it falling on the floor. If two or more players played they would hit the shuttlecock back and forth to each other, it was usually a cooperative rather than a competitive game, the players purposely hit the shuttlecock towards rather than away from each other, their goal was to have as long a rally as possible keeping the shuttlecock up in the air and counting the number of consecutive successful strokes in each rally. The present-day game of badminton developed from this much older game of ‘battledore and shuttlecock’. Badminton was being played in at least 1863 and maybe a few years before that.

The old battledore which has the inscriptions handwritten in ink on its parchment face in 1830 and 1845.

Photo: – Geoff Hinder.

We know the game of ‘battledore and shuttlecock’ was played at Badminton House as early as 1830 because they still have in their possession, a battledore bat which has inscriptions handwritten in ink on its parchment face. The oldest reads: ‘Kept up with Lady Somerset on Saturday January 12th 1830 to 2117 with… (unreadable)’. The second says: ‘Lady Henrietta Somerset in February 1845 kept up with Beth Mitchell 2018.’

Old shuttlecocks at Badminton House circa 1845.

Photos: – Geoff Hinder.


A string was rigged up one rainy day in c1863 across the middle of the North Hall of Badminton House from the front door handle to the fireplace.  The new game of badminton was played with the shuttle being hit over the string between the participants.  The rules were made up as they went along, becoming more and more sophisticated until they had invented the game of badminton. Eventually, they would have upright posts 16ft. (4.9m) apart with a net 5ft. (1.52m) high.

Outside doors that open into the North Hall at Badminton House.

The North Hall at Badminton House is the same size as a badminton court as we know it today, 13.4m (44ft.) x 6.1m (20ft.). On the side wall in the centre of the North Hall two large doors open inwards with pillars on either side which also both protrude into the hall or playing area. On the other side of the hall, there is a fireplace with pillars on either side that also protrude into the hall.

With people entering and leaving the hall through the doors, this is almost certainly where the hourglass/waste court originated from in c1863.

The hourglass/waste court was where the net was only 4.9m (16ft.) wide.  The laws of badminton were changed by the ‘Badminton Association’ – England, to rectangular courts as we know them today in 1901.

The ‘Badminton Association’ – England was the governing body for world badminton from when it was formed in 1893 until the formation in 1934 of the International Badminton Federation (IBF), now called the Badminton World Federation (BWF).

Fireplace in the North Hall at Badminton House.



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The Hourglass or Waste Court.
North Hall at Badminton House.

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Photos: – Geoff Hinder.


Visitors are welcome to look around the Museum unescorted at any time 
The National Badminton Centre is normally open 9am to 8pm every day.

National Badminton Museum, National Badminton Centre, Bradwell Road, Loughton Lodge,
Free Admission.
The National Badminton Museum is on the 1st floor with a lift. Disabled toilet facilities are available on the 1st floor. There is no wheelchair accessibility to the Museum office.
There is a restaurant on the first floor serving breakfasts every day of the week and light lunches on weekdays.
Free parking at the National Badminton Centre.
National Badminton Centre 
Lodge Hotel.
For more information and to book a room – Click Here.
If you have any badminton memorabilia, archive material, or any other items and would like to donate them to the National Badminton Museum please contact us at: –
Thank you to all the ‘Friends of the Museum’ and people who have made donations to the National Badminton Museum, your support enables us to purchase extremely rare badminton artefacts for the National Collection as they become available.
The National Badminton Museum is a small charity administered by volunteers. Help preserve the history of badminton by making a donation or becoming a ‘Friend of the Museum’. Any donations to the National Badminton Museum will help us to expand the collection of memorabilia, books, and documents to make these items readily available to all.
To become a ‘Friend of the Museum’ or to make a donation to the National Badminton Museum online or by cheque go to: – ‘Home’ – ‘Friends and Donations’.  –  Click Here.      or use the QR Code  – Thank you.

2025 Yonex All-England Badminton Championships
Tuesday 11 March 2025 to Sunday 16 March 2025.
At the Utilita Arena, Birmingham.
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