Traveling Rings Manual from Victorian England

Traveling Rings Manual from Victorian England

As many of you may already know, I am a huge fan of history and traveling rings. I often spend time browsing through the Library of Congress and other historical databases for any information regarding traveling rings (or “hanging hoops” as they are seldom referred to). Every so often I discover a clue that leads to an interesting document, drawing or photograph of traveling rings. How delightful it was to discover an old gymnastics manual for girls, published in England, which mentioned the traveling rings!

Travelling rings are made of iron covered with leather, measuring eight inches across inside of the ring. The length of rope will depend upon the convenience of the beams; and the distance should be sufficiently far apart to enable the pupil to make a running swing before reaching the second ring. This, while beneficial, will be found a most recreative exercise.


Although this passage reads like it may have been written recently, it was actually published in 1885 by A. Alexander, at the time director of the Liverpool Gymnasium in England. The Liverpool Gymnasium was founded by entrepreneur John Hulley in 1865 in an effort to bring about modern day Olympic competition.

Here are some excerpts from Healthful Exercises For Girls by A. Alexander:

I especially enjoy the attire worn by the girl in the drawings, although I don’t think it’d be very conducive to swinging on the beach.

Some beautiful hi-res illustrations of the Liverpool Gymnasium can be found on this Flickr page.

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