© Copyright 1990 - G.M. Clark & E. Dixon; reproduced here by kind permission


Chasing Games - Paper Chase
Chasing Games - What's the Time, Mr Wolf?

Types of chasing and catching games played
Paper Chase Sheep Sheep, Come Home
What's the Time, Mr Wolf? Ones and Twos and Threes

Paper Chase

These chases were only played in Newport Pagnell on Shrove Tuesday, In the Twenties and Thirties we were given a half day holiday. We all went home for lunch as usual and had pancakes for our meal.

Paper Chase in the 1920s and 1930s

After lunch, we assembled in our special 'gangs', e.g. Tickford St. The hare would have a bag of scraps of paper and he would set off across the fields leaving a trail of paper behind him. The hounds would set off some minutes later in an effort to track down the hare.

This was great fun, but it was gradually dying out and by the Second World War probably not many children went 'paper chasing'.

What's the Time, Mr Wolf?

All children used to love this and squeal with delight during the course of the game,

A child was chosen as Mr Wolf. He faced a wall and the others started from an opposite wall. As they advanced, they said "What's the time, Mr Wolf?" He could answer, "One o'clock"' and the children advanced again and asked the time. He answered again possibly this time, "Four o'clock".

Children's Game - What's the Time, Mr Wolf?

This may have occurred several times, but then the wolf would suddenly turn and call out, "Dinnertime!" He rushed after the other children and attempted to grab one. If he succeeded, that child became Mr Wolf.

Sheep, Sheep Come Home

When this game was played, the mixed screams or squeals of fear and delight were quite infectious.

The shepherd herded his sheep to one end of the playground and he retreated to the other end. The wolf was hidden in some corner between the sheep and the shepherd.

The shepherd then called 'Sheep, sheep' come home,' The sheep replied, 'We are afraid.' The shepherd said, 'Of what are you afraid?' The sheep said, 'The wolf.'

The shepherd said, 'The wolf has gone to Devonshire and won't be back for seven years. Sheep, sheep, come home,'

At this, the sheep start to run to the shepherd at the end of the playground. The wolf then appears and chases the sheep until he catches one. Sometimes, the sheep are put in the den and the game starts again. The shepherd calls from the other end of the playground and the wolf increases the number of sheep in his den each time. Some wolves made the sheep help him catch the other sheep. The games ended more quickly if this was done.

Ones and Twos and Threes

This was a more organised game, usually arranged by a teacher or leader of a group. The children made a circle standing in pairs (one behind the other) if playing twos and threes.

Two children were chosen to be chaser and prisoner. The prisoner could run round the circle and between each pair, but not to separate a pair. He then had to place himself in front of the pair to find sanctuary. The child on the outside ring took over as prisoner, and was chased. If the chaser touched the prisoner before he found sanctuary, he became the chaser

This game was often played indoors on wet days and it let off a good deal of surplus energy. It generally worked out that all the children had a chance to chase or to be prisoner.