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A half-crown is an obsolete, pre-decimal British coin. A crown was worth 5 shillings old money (= 25p now) so a half-crown was worth 2s 6d or 12.5p decimal. There were 8 of them to the pound sterling. A half-crown enclosure would have been a spectator area where the admission fee was a half-crown, probably with a better view of the track or finish line. I ...


Here is an example from the 1907 Brooklands 1st Race Meeting (an automobile race, in this case):


I was looking for a link to back up Peter Jenning's post. I only found one link which was at all appropriate, but according to this one link it seems that the half crown enclosure was a betting enclosure where the admission fee was a half-crown. From Flat Racing and British Society 1790-1914: "Increasingly throughout the century the racecourses' attempts to ...


It seems to me that most of these answers are correct to a degree. I became interested in the phrase after coming across it in the folk-song "Mick Maguire". Here is the last verse (or last refrain): Johnny come up to the fire come up you're sitting in the draught/ Can't you see it's ould Maguire and he nearly drives me daft/ Sure I don't know what gets into ...


One possibility that I don't see considered is that the phrase is connected to 'beggar belief', which roughly means to defy belief (something can also beggar description, which means to defy attempts at description). This is more or less exactly the same meaning as 'beg the question' - namely defy the question, by presupposing an answer. I find it doubtful ...

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