Played in London

BookPlayed in London

Played in London

Charting the heritage of a city at play

Played in Britain


September 1st, 2014





From its first century Roman amphitheatre to the 21st century Olympic Stadium at Stratford, London has always been a city of spectacles and sporting fever.

In the 12th century crowds would gather at Smithfield to watch horse racing and ball games. In Tudor times they flocked to the tiltyards of Whitehall and Westminster to enjoy jousting, while in the 17th century the Stuarts were keen exponents of a game with the familiar name of Pall Mall.

From more recent times Wembley, Wimbledon, Twickenham, Lord’s and the Oval are known around the world. As the first city to have hosted three Olympic Games, London has also led the way in the development of athletics, boxing and gymnastics and, in the 20th century, of greyhound and speedway racing, and even of darts, once a fairground favourite, now contested in front of massive crowds at one of the capital’s latest coliseums, the O2 Arena at Greenwich.

Profusely illustrated with detailed maps and in-depth research, Played in London is the most ambitious offering yet from the acclaimed Played in Britain series. Capital sport guaranteed!

Don't expect idly re-cycled facts, the author has done an awesome research job that might come across as geeky, if it wasn't so interesting. ... Really - a great read!
Greyhound Star

Inglis must be the best in the world at this sort of thing. ... From bear gardens to skateparks. Played in London has the lot. ... The sheer density of information and illustration means that, despite its handsome layout, Inglis's epic is not the easiest of books to navigate. But, like London itself, it is endless fun to get lost in.
Richard Williams, The Guardian, Talking Sport

... the research that has gone into this book is staggering. It is a massive topic, for sure, but with a copy in my hands, now I really understand. Played in London is the size and weight of a medium telephone directory (remember those?), is beautifully laid out in four column format and illustrated with nearly 1000 photographs, illustrations and maps. In short, it's a quality object. This is a wonderful book. Yes, it relates the history of sport as it should. But it really succeeds in nailing the heritage in its title: it invokes nostalgia really powerfully. London sports fans will love this book, of that there is no doubt. Sports loving architects will adore it. And I would go so far to say that even historians without any interest in sports at all will enjoy Played in London. It's that good.
Mike Paterson, London Historians

The greatest sporting city on Earth? After 360 pages of Simon Inglis's comprehensively detailed book, it is a safe bet that Rio de Janeiro, Melbourne, Barcelona and any other pretenders will be throwing in the towel and accepting London's pre-eminence. ... Part of the "Played in Britain" series, it leaves you wanting even more of the wonderfully evocative old photography ...
Matt Dickinson, The Times, Saturday Review

If books could receive medals, Played in London woudl be hogging the centre of the podium. London book of the year so far.

... a breathtaking accomplishment, full of terrific nuggests of information ...
The Great Wen

'Putting it quite simply, this is a remarkable book... You don't have to be a Londoner to enjoy Played in London, though that would help. You don't even have to like sport, though if you do it will add to your enjoyment considerably. More than anything else, this is just a fascinating education... This book not only feels special, it feels vital too. Some achievement.'
Nick Metcalf, Mail Online

This fascinating exploration 'charting the heritage of a city at play' looks at the spaces, buildings and sports that have shaped London's landscape over a millennia, revealing all sorts of intriguing historical facts along the way... this book, packed with original photographs and detailed maps, is a cornucopia of great stories and sporting events.

Any popular culture enthusiasts, serious or casual, will gain from Inglis' attention to the role of sport in the community and as an essential part of everyday life.
All Out Cricket

In 'Played in London', Inglis, the writer of a number of highly acclaimed books about football history and stadium architecture, turns his attentions - over 360 pages of exhaustive research, stunning design and truly fascinating insight - towards sport in its wider social context, with specific regard to the English capital.
Tony Hannan, Forty-20

An amazing feat of social history.
New Statesman

Simon Inglis is rightly renowned for his writing on the cultural significance of stadia and other sporting buildings. Simon's 'Played in Britain' project has helped transform our understanding of what these structures mean to their localities, and his latest account of this relationship, 'Played in London' not only continues the richness of Simon's explanation but is unarguably his finest book in this extraordinary 'Played in...' series yet.
Mark Perryman, Philosophy Football

The epic breadth of sport and places covered with a forensic level of research is something to marvel at. ... a beautiful encyclopaedia of London's sporting and social history.
Sport Magazine

Sports historian Inglis's compendium of facts, figures, stories, street signs and photos is the perfect present for sports loving Londoners.
Neil O'Sullivan, Financial Times

What makes this journey so enjoyable is Simon Inglis' witty, sagacious and tremendously informative text... London's sporting heritage could have no finer guardian and watch-keeper.

A sumptuous, meticulously researched book... also a cracking good read.
Matthew Syed, The Times

This magnificent tome will stand as the masterwork authority on the capital’s sporting heritage for many decades to come. We picked it up with only a passing interest in sport. We put it down, 240,000 words later, with a newfound appreciation for the stadia, pitches and sporting traditions of the capital... It’s not only a publishing achievement of the highest order, but also an immensely good read.

Our Book of the Year... Quite simply an exceptional work of social and architectural history. Deeply researched, superbly written, beautifully designed and printed with hundreds of photos, illustrations and maps.
London Historians

This latest volume from Simon Inglis provides a fascinating portrait of the sporting grounds in the 2012 Olympic City of London. ... Magnificent illustrations, many of them reproduced for the first time in many years, are complemented by a bright, informative but never over powering text.
Philip Barker, Journal of Olympic History

This is a quite remarkable publication and I am not at all sure that I - or any reviewer - can do it justice; you must see it for yourself to discover the range, the depth and the detail, all of which are soon evident. ... It cannot ve too highly recommended.
Gerald Gurney, The Tennis Collector

Simon Inglis's writing is lucid, personal and thought provoking. ... the book is endlessly fascinating in its detail and depth. It is almost impossible to do full justice to such a compendious publication - there are hundreds of illustrations (photographs, paintings, drawings, maps and more) which enhance and illuminate the text.
Richard Pugh, Journal of the Islington Archaeology & History Society

Author Information

Simon Inglis has written and contributed to numerous books on the history, architecture and heritage of sport.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Foreword by Rod Sheard
1. Played in London
2. Open space
3. River Thames
4. Crystal Palace Park
5. Wembley Park
6. Lea Valley
7. Dulwich
8. Westway
9. Pavillions
10. Grandstands
11. Membership clubs and institutes
12. Company sports clubs
13. Gymnasiums and drill halls
14. Billiard halls
15. Skateparks
16. Outdoor swimming pools
17. Indoor swimming pools
18. Bowls
19. Archery
20. Cricket
21. Golf
22. Football
23. Rugby
24. Real tennis
25. Fives
26. Rackets and squash
27. Lawn tennis
28. Athletics
29. Cycling
30. Greyhound racing
31. Speedway
32. Conclusions