The game of Croquet had many variants and names throughout the history and even to tell with certainty, where this game came from, is not at all easy. First document where the word “Croquet” is mentioned dates back to 1856. In 1868, the first croquet club in England - Wimbledon - was formed.
But the game was invented hundreds years before all this happened. There are actually two theories with regards to the origin of Croquet.
The first says that the game was introduced to Great Britain from France during the 1660-1685 reign of Charles II of England. That time it was called paille-malle (meaning “ball and mallet”).
The second theory is that the game came from Ireland during the 1850s, probably from Brittany where a similar game was played on the beaches.
Croquet became very popular in England during the 1860s from where it spread quickly to other anglophone countries - Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. In late 1870s, the game of croquet became dominated by another lawn sport - tennis - and lots of clubs had turned their croquet lawns into tennis courts. There was some increase in popularity again in the 1870s, but it remained a minority sport since then.
Croquet made it to be a part of 1900 Olympic games, although some Olympic historians would say that it was not an Olympic sport. It is listed among “Athletic games” in the Official Report. These Olympic games had only two croquet countries as participants. France and Belgium, altogether 3 women and 17 men. This event was completely dominated by French players as there was only one player from Belgium.
Currently there are 200 active croquet clubs in the United States and about 170 in Great Britain. Croquet recently became very popular in Spain where they have 20 registered clubs at the moment and the number of players is growing very quickly. Some rumours say that if the popularity increases according to current trends, the game might become a part of Olympic games again.