The engraving and text here are taken from George Walker's book The
Costume of Yorkshire, first published in 1814.
"This is no doubt the same game, a little varied, which Strutt, in his
Sports and Pastimes of England, denominates Northen, or Northern
Spell. The little wooden ball is in Yorkshire called the Nor, and the receptacle, in which it is
placed, the Spell. A sight of the Plate will sufficiently explain the nature
of the game, which is necessarily played upon an open piece of ground.
Upright sticks or stones, placed at certain equal intervals of about twenty
yards, serve to regulate the score by determining the distance to which the
ball is struck. The player uses a long stick of cane or hazle, to the end of
which is fixed a thick solid piece of wood. With this instrument he raises
the ball by tipping the sharp end of the spell, and he strikes it while it is
in the air. Strutt describes the spell as hung upon a pivot considerably
above the ground, the ball as made of leather, and much larger, and the stick
as resembling in form the bat used for cricket. In short, it approaches more
nearly to the modern game of Trap-ball, and by no means admits of the skill
required in the one here represented."
George Walker, The Costume of Yorkshire, London: 1814. Reprinted 1885.
Sidney Oldall Addy has a brief entry in his A Glossary of Words used in
the Neighbourhood of Sheffield (London 1888, vol I p 126):
"KNUR AND SPELL, sb. a game.
The knur is a small round ball, less than a billiard ball. It is put
into a cup fixed upon a spring, which being touched causes the ball to rise
into the air, when it is struck by a trip-stick. The cup and spring
are called the spell. The trip-stick is a slender stick made
broad and flat at one end, the knur being struck by the broad part.
The game is played on Shrove Tuesday."
The game is still played (Yorkshire Television organised a "World" Championship
in the 1960s and '70s), though apparently it has declined rather in favour of
Nipsy, which doesn't need such a large playing area. The various implements
involved have different names in different areas. More detailed information
can be seen at:
The Online Guide to
Traditional Games: Knur and Spell (or Knur and Sling)