Bowling in the United States and Canada most frequently refers to ten-pin bowling. In the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries it more often refers to lawn bowls. The earliest known forms of bowling date back to ancient Egypt. About 2,000 years ago, in the Roman Empire, a similar game evolved between Roman legionaries entailing the tossing of stone objects as close as possible to other stone objects, which eventually evolved into Italian Bocce, or outdoor bowling. In 1325 laws were passed in Berlin and Cologne limiting bets on lawn bowling to five shillings. In 1366 the first official mention of bowling in England was made when King Edward III banned it as a distraction to archery practice. In the 15th-17th centuries lawn bowling spread from Germany into Austria, Switzerland, and the Low Countries, with playing surfaces made of cinders or baked clay.
In 1455 lawn bowling lanes in London were first roofed-over, turning bowling into an all-weather game. In Germany they were called kegelbahns, often attached to taverns and guest houses. In 1463 a public feast was held in Frankfurt, Germany, with a venison dinner followed by lawn bowling. In 1511 English King Henry VIII was an avid bowler. He banned bowling for the lower classes and imposed a levy for private lanes to limit them to the wealthy. On 19 July 1588 English Vice-Admiral Sir Francis Drake allegedly was playing bowls at Plymouth Hoe when the arrival of the Spanish Armada was announced, replying “We have time enough to finish the game and beat the Spaniards too. The Bowling Game, by Dutch painter Jan Steen, c.
Many Dutch Golden Age paintings depicted bowling. Hudson’s men brought some form of lawn bowling with them. In 1670 Dutchmen liked to bowl at the Old King’s Arms Tavern near modern-day 2nd and Broadway in New York City. In 1733 Bowling Green in New York City was built on the site of a Dutch cattle market and parade ground, becoming the city’s oldest public park to survive to modern times. A painting from around 1810 shows British bowlers playing a bowling sport outdoors. It shows a triangular formation of ten pins chronologically before it appeared in the United States.