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11th September 2003
The art of Dwile Flonking
dwile flonking
Described as an adult version of "All Fall Down"

Does dwile flonking really date back to the Suffolk harvests of 400 years ago or is it just a good excuse for getting drunk and celebrating Christmas in August?

Time at the bar

Pubs in Ipswich

Bars in Ipswich

Dwile flonking messageboard

Virtual Dwile Flonking Game

UK pub guide: drinking games
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Head 'wonton': 3 points
Chest 'morther': 2 points
Below the belt 'a ripper': 1 point

Features and pictures on dwile flonking appeared in The Sun (1967), Guardian (1971) and The Daily Sketch Titbits magazine May 1973 - under the heading: "Thrash my rhubarb they're still flonking the dwile."

Dwile Flonking was used in a promotion by the Alliance and Leicester Building Society in 1998 for their current account.

The tag line being "£20 added to your bank account. Better than a slap in the face."

View a printable version of this page.
get in contact
What is dwile flonking?
The rules
What to wear
The trophy
Fact or fiction
Thrash my rhubarb they're still flonking the dwile
Dwile flonking messageboard
play Virtual Dwile Flonking game

What is dwile flonking?
Well 'flonk' is Old English Ale and 'dwile' is a knitted floor cloth. Two teams are formed and a sugar beat tossed to decide who is going to 'flonk' first.

A "dull witted person" is chosen as the referee or 'jobanowl'. The game begins when he shouts "Here y'go t'gither!"

Before a match the dwile flonkers sing an emotionally filled anthem "Here we 'em be together" penned by one Amos Thirkle, who was later adopted as the sport's patron saint.

The team
The Team at The Racehorse pub in 2002. The picture was taken on their Christmas Day, which was the Sunday before August Bank Holiday (explains the Christmas tree on the left of the photo)

The rules
The team which is not flonking holds hands and dances around in a circle - known as "girting". A member of the opposing team stands in the middle of the circle holding a "driveller" (a pole 2-3 ft long and made from hazel or yew), on the end of which is a beer-soaked dwile.

The flonker then turns in an anti-clockwise direction and flonks his dwile at the opposing circling team.

If the dwile misses completely it is known as a "swadger". When this happens the team forms a line and the flonker takes hold of a pot filled with ale.

He then has to drink the contents of the pot before the wet dwile has passed from hand to hand along the line, chanting to the ancient ceremonial mantra of "pot pot pot".

The team with the highest number of points wins, after deducting one point for every player still sober.

dwile flonking
About to start, you can see the driveller

What to wear
Authentic costume is actively encouraged and the suggested dress code is:

pork pie hat
collar-less shirt or embroidered smock
'lijahs' - (trousers tied with binder twine at the knee)
hobnail boots
a straw or clay pipe between the teeth

The trophy
A 'gazunder' - or pewter chamber pot. A trophy was specially commissioned and donated by Adnams Brewery for the annual championships that were held in Beccles and Bungay in the 60s and 70s.

dwile flonking
Girting - the game needs a great deal of finesse

Fact or fiction?
In 1966 George High of Bungay was clearing out his late grandfather's attic when he came across a parchment document entitled: "Ye Olde Booke of Suffolk Harvest Rituels".

The only text that could be deciphered was the one giving a set of rules for dwile-flonking. They were shown to Andrew Leverett and Robert Devereux, printing apprentices at Clay's of Bungay and Clowes of Beccles, respectively.

The two men thought it would be fun to play so teams were formed at the two factories and the match played at Beccles Festival of Sport in 1966.

No one can remember the score, although team members recalled feeling "pretty fragile" the following morning.

dwile flonking
'Flonk' could simply be based on the word flong an old past tense of fling

'Thrash my rhubarb they're still flonking the dwile'
The Eastern Daily Press ran an article the following year raising suspicion about the origins of dwile flonking when the county archivist failed to find any mention of the game amongst the county records.

Dwile flonking hit the headlines again early in 1967 when The Three Tuns in Bungay was granted an extension for the dinner dance of the Waveney Valley Dwile Flonking Association - but not before the Magistrate wanted to know exactly what dwile flonking entailed.

Both the licensee and the Police Inspector on duty had to admit they did not know. Fortunately a woman sitting in the public seats knew and was able to enlighten them.

Following this publicity the Waveney Valley dwile flonkers made their debut on The Eamonn Andrews television programme in 1967, which resulted in letters from Australia, Hong Kong and America asking for a flonking rule book.

Dwile from the Dutch word dweil - meaning floor cloth, probably introduced by Flemish weavers during the Middle Ages. The origins of Flonk are a little more suspect, but could simply be based on flong an old past tense of fling.

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Chris- Hampshire
Used to go out with my dad in the mid 70's when he was in a Round Table team. As a 6 year old it was great fun and i remember having a go. The scarey thing is that they nearly all drove home afterwards. How things have changed.

Steve, Rawtenstall
We - Fat Bill, Des, Cropper, The Umrod Chaz and Ogger flonked our dwiles in the Regency Club Waterfoot. The Dwile was a sponge soaked in stale beer. If only we could remeber what we did but we had too much Milk of Amnesia at the time.

Anni VoH now NZ originally Berkshire
My vague memories, dating back to the 60's, involve the cloth being a substitute for a small animal, which was said to be released into a crowd of drunken rurals, ALL armed with a stick. The object being to lift the animal/cloth of the ground and fling it about with the sticks. Presumably the game ends when either the animal escapes or the entire team is unconscious. Cruelty to animals and extreme danger to participants may have prompted a tamer version. Then again, all history is naught but lies and half truths, and none more so than this. But that's what I remember. That and a lot of morris dancing.

Adrian, Louth, Lincolnshire
We used to Dwile Flonk at The Cabinet, Reed, Royston, Herts in the late 60's. The memory of the bad heads lives on ! ! !

David Germany
I was employed at Cathodeon Crystals in Linton Camridge, and also secretary of the sport and social club in the seventies.There we celebrated the summer with a "Dwiel Flonking" Contest. As far as I know it is an old East Anglian harvest tradition.

Jim, Eganville, Ontario, Canada
Flonking (or "Flunking") the dwile is a sport originating in the fertile, if wierd, imagination of Michael Bentine. The first reference to the sport was an expedition into the darkest reaches of the English countryside where the "It's a Square World" explorers came across a group of natives playing the sport. The episode aired sometime between 1960 and 1964 when the show was originally broadcast. Historical (or was that "hysterical") mystery solved. QED.

Grabber, now in the Potteries
I was with George High, Bob Devereux, and Andy Leverett at the commencement, all at the Swan in Gelderston.

Anji , Stockport
I remember Dwile Flonking at Salford University (1972-1976). I don't think we really knew what we were doing...but it WAS fun!

Mark, Lowestoft, Cambs, etc...
Tis about time this had a reinvention in the Fens again, I do remember a local beer named 'ripper' which may have very well been a homage to the ancient blessed sport and its scoring systems...

Buzzy ..Halesworth...Member of the Blyth Valley W
The accusations, by Westhall Racehorse of the POT being stolen from their premises is a blatent lie.It has never left our team since the sixties.An apology would not go amiss.

e.g. Tom, Ipswich
Tom in Sheffield - which Tom are you?Au revoir,Rob

Alan, Nottingham
To answer some of the questions raised, a direct face hit is a "Wonton" (3 points), an upper body hit is a "Morther (2 points), and a hit between knee and waist is a "Ripper" (1 point).Each flonker has 2 goes at a time, but 2 "Swadgers" (misses - e.g. non-scoring shots) constitute a foul, and they have to "Take the Pot", whereby they have to drink a quantity of beer from the chamberpot, while the other team sing a chorus of the Dwile Flonkers Lament!I have the rules, diagrams, scoring system etc all documented in a Word doc if anybody wants one?Just email me at

Buzzy ..Halesworth...Member of the Blyth Valley W
All will soon be revealed to J.M.P of Halesworth as to the TRUE story of flonking in East Anglia.Also photos of the original Silver Championship Trophy donated by Adnam's Brewery

J.M.P Halesworth
I first came across this sport in the mid 70's when i was at Barsham Fair and have a couple of pictures in a book by Richard Barns called the Sun in the East. It now turnes out that I drink with a lot of the origenal founding members of the art. I have decided to record for posterity all of there fantastic stories on tape and collate all of the hundreds of photographs that they have. I am also about to be taken to see and photograph the famouse silver chamber pot that is still to this day in the posesion of the local team captain and indeed ingraved as such. I am chasing some moving footage of the sport taken in the 70's which will be a bonous to the archive which I think I am about to unwittingley start.

Geoff Jones, Buckinghamshire
A newspaper article inspired the introduction of dwile flonking as an event in the Durham University charity Rag Week in 1967, repeated in 1968. I was the initiator and organizer of this as an undergraduate at Van Mildert College and a competition was arranged with several of the other university colleges. The games were held on the Palace Green, between the Norman cathedral and the Norman castle, the site imbuing the event with an air of tradition and gravitas by association. Whether the event continued for any further Rag Weeks after my graduation I have no idea.

Dog Woman, MOld
Now the autumn / winter season is upon us and our rhubarb has been thrashed, we've girtled and swadged our way all summer long, does anyone have any ideas as to how we can transfer the ancient art into an indoor venue, to keep us amused through the long, cold dark nights? The floor of the village hall is carpeted and the caretaker wouldn't be too impressed at beer-sodden flonker soaking into the Axminster?

Alan, Sproughton
I first came across dwile flonking in the summer of 1966 in the village of Pulloxhill in Bedfordshire. This was a recently revived, annual inter-village event, but I never learned how many years it had been running.

Tom, Sheffield
Hopefully playing tonight. Rob Devereux was my French teacher at the Leman school a few years ago!

Dog woman, Mold
Quite by chance the subject of Dwile flonking was brought up on the chat forum of the Welsh Terrier Owners' Society This has led to a great many postings and reminiscences from members of WelTOS (all totally barmy Welsh Terrier owners) during the past few days. worth checking out for true exponents of the ancient art.

Oliver Australia
Ahh the memory of a summer afternoon game of Dwile Flonking lingers with me to this day and reminds me of how much I miss England so much. I became quite an expert in the art of flonking although I can't remember much at all! I do however remember that the pub halfway up Tuddenham road in Ipswich would put on a game once a year and it was a day not to be missed. This just go's to prove that "only mad dogs and englishmen dwile flonk in the English sun

e.g. Tom, Ipswich
Ray, London During the early 1970's I worked in the Horning Ferry Inn in Norfolk and a local brewery sponsored a dwile flonking tournament amongst the local pubs. The rules were more or less as described in the article above but each flonker had 3 attempts at flonking the dwile.If the flonker hit the head of someone in the counter-rotating circle it was known as a 'mawther' and scored 3 points, if they scored a hit on the body it scored 2 and was known as a 'wanton'. For striking below the waist the flonker scored one point for a 'ripper'!It was great fun and we all got absolutely legless. One of my abiding memories is of one team member throwing a bucket of river water(and in the Broadland competitions there was usually some water flying around sooner or later)all over a suited up representative of the Brewery and the latter trying,in the interests of his company,to restrain himself from throttling the offending, giggling merry maker who had probably just ruined the man's best suit!

e.g. Tom, Ipswich
Hi my son has just E'd me this site from his hovel in Cambribge along with an apology for doubting my tales of my flonking exploits whilst at Lowestoft I remember may ah happissed hours playing at Waveny and Oulton Broad yacht Club some how it always seemed to be a better game if played near to a river or pond!!Lowestoft tech used to put up a team as well in the mid 60's most of us where called after ship parts was I stern or anchor after two chamber pot of red barrell who cared....Now here we em be lads now here we en be ..Wi our dwiles and our dwidlers dwile flonkers be ole tom scores a ripper now hear the crowd shout as we start a hulling our dwiles about " dwiles away"

can you tell me if you score 3 points for a direct face hit??

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