Robert Dover's Cotswold Olimpicks brings Athens to Chipping Campden
English folk may not have a reputation as the fastest runners, highest jumpers or strongest throwers, but they certainly love a good game of Tug of War. It is lucky then, that quintessentially English athletes have the chance to swap exotic Olympic stadiums for a hill in the Cotswolds where they can show off their unique skills.
It was nearly 400 years ago that Robert Dover decided to bring the spirit of Ancient Greece to middle England and set up his Cotswold Olimpicks after gaining royal permission from King James I. Mr Dover invited his countrymen to compete in events such as throwing the sledge hammer, spurning the bar, wrestling, singlestick, jumping in sacks, tumbling, pike drill, backswords, coursing and even shin-kicking - which remains an event to this day. Indeed, poet Ben Johnson once wrote of the event: "The Cotswold with the Olympick vies/In manly games and goodly exercise."
Usually held in June, the games take place on the original site of Dover's Hill, which is situated above the village of Chipping Campden, attracting thousands of visitors each year. The 2012 event will mark the 400th anniversary from the moment Robert Dover opened the first games, dressed in clothes gifted to him by King James I.
Other events which typically take place at the modern Robert Dover's Costwold Olimpicks include the Championship of the Hill and the Tug o' War contest. There are usually other fun things for families to take part in such as dancing, running races, martial arts displays, face painting, a dog display and live music.
The event is known to many as a predecessor of the Olympic movement, with the British Olympic Association citing the event in their successful bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. "An Olympic Games held in London in 2012 will mark a unique anniversary - it will be exactly 400 years from the moment that the first stirrings of Britain's Olympic beginnings can be identified," stated the organisation.
It is no wonder that the Cotswold Olimpicks attract so many visitors each year - the wonderfully eccentric event harks back to a time long before the emergence of the Olympic superstars of today, and certainly before the dawn of health and safety legislation.
Find out more about the Cotswold Olimpicks
View a video of the bizarre shin-kicking event
Find out about accommodation and other things to do in Chipping Campden