Play a game of conkers

Country Living (UK) - - A Month In The Country -

SEE­ING A GLOSSY BROWN CONKER freshly emerged from its shell or feel­ing the empty husks crunch un­der foot dur­ing windswept au­tumn walks is a true Oc­to­ber plea­sure. Sur­pris­ingly, the horse ch­est­nut tree (Aes­cu­lus hip­pocas­tanum), on which the spiny-cased seeds grow, is a rel­a­tive new­comer hav­ing been in­tro­duced from the Balkans about 400 years ago. Con­se­quently th­ese great trees are rarely found in wood­land but are com­mon in parks, gar­dens and on vil­lage greens. Their name may be ex­plained by the fact they were once fed to horses as a form of medicine. Al­though non-na­tive, the horse ch­est­nut has long been syn­ony­mous with this sea­son in Bri­tain after the school­ground game of conkers be­came pop­u­lar more than 150 years ago. The first-ever recorded game took place in 1848 on the Isle of Wight, and each year, on the sec­ond Sun­day of Oc­to­ber, thou­sands still flock to a beau­ti­ful cor­ner of Northamp­ton­shire for the World Conker Cham­pi­onships. For more de­tails about horse chest­nuts, visit

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