Nursery Rhymes

Pell Mell

Middle Ages - Lords and Ladies

Origin of the term 'Pell Mell'
The true origin of the term 'Pell Mell' has become somewhat confused over the passing of time. The name has its origins in France. The old French word  “pallemaille” means “ball and mallet” and comes from the Latin “pallamaglio” ('palla' meaning a ball and 'maglio' meaning a mallet). Another French word “pêle-mêle”, meaning to mix. Pell Mell was given as the name to an old English game which was played using a mallet and a large wooden.

The current definition of 'Pell Mell' is 'in mingled confusion or disorder'.

The Game of Pell Mell
Pell Mell was a name given to a rough Medieval game. The players of Pell Mell drove the ball along the Pell Mell playing area by taking immense swings at it with a mallet. They then had to shoot the ball through a suspended hoop at the end of the field. The term Pell Mell was changed in translation and gave name to the famous London Road called Pall Mall where the game Pell Mell was played! Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary for 2nd April 1661: “So I into St. James’s Park, where I saw the Duke of York playing at Pelemele, the first time that ever I saw the sport.”

The Origin of the Game of Pell Mell
A connection can be made with Pell Mell and the training of Medieval Knights. The knights of the Middle Ages practised "Running at the Rings" where their skill at using the lance weapon was practised. The lance was aimed at a target in the shape of a ring - "Running at the Rings". The term 'Mêlée' was closely associated with jousting and knights. Mêlée: A Melee was a team combat or ‘free for all’ where teams or groups of individuals met in the field. The current definition of 'Pell Mell' is 'in mingled confusion or disorder'. It is quite conceivable that the game 'Pell Mell' was a spin-off from Quintain and Pell Training! A great form of entertainment for knights and soldiers during the Medieval period of the Middle Ages.

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