Badminton originates from an ancient racquet sport played in Egypt and Greece known as battledore and shuttlecock (battledore is an early name for the racquet).
The name badminton refers to the Duke of Beaufort’s Badminton House in Gloucestershire, but how the name came to be associated with the racquet sport remains a mystery.
In 1860, a toy seller named Isaac Spratt released a book called Badminton Battledore – A New Game. Unfortunately, not much is known about this original booklet as none of the copy has survived through the years.
One speculation is that officers of the British Army stationed in India adapted a local game played with racquets and woolen balls, calling it Poona or Poonah after the town of Pune they were stationed in.
By 1873, rules were drawn up for the game in Pune, with a shuttlecock and woolen ball being used interchangeably to play the game (the heavier woolen ball was preferred in windy or wet weather).
Two years later officers returning from India created a badminton club in Folkestone, using the rules drawn up in Pune to play singles and doubles games. The Pune rules were used for the game until 1887, when J. H. E. Hart of the Bath Badminton Club revised the regulations.
The rules were again revised (by Hart and an associate, Bagnel Wild), in 1890, with the Badminton Association of England (BAE) publishing the rules three years later and officially launching the game of badminton at a house called Dunbar, in Portsmouth.
By 1899, the first All England Open Badminton Championships were held, with men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles matches.
During the modern badminton era, several changes and additions have helped shaped the game into the competitive sport it is today. The first rule addition was to curtail the use of the Sidek serve (or S serve).
This serve (popularised by the Sidek brothers in the 1980s), sliced across the bottom of the feathers of the shuttlecock to add chaotic spin to the serve. The serve was used so widely it was deemed to be negatively impacting the sport, thus the rules revision to prevent this from happening.
Because of the spin imparted on the shuttlecock, the S serve was notoriously hard to return, favouring the server rather than players with skill during a rally.