Art in the sta­b­le­yard

Vis­its the Na­tional Her­itage Cen­tre for Horserac­ing and Sport­ing Art at New­mar­ket. Open­ing this month, it is the cul­mi­na­tion of a 30-year project

Country Life Every Week - - Focus On The Visual Arts -

NEW­MAR­KET hides its horse cul­ture be­hind fences, walls and gates. Although sev­eral thou­sand horses are sta­bled in and around the town, these valu­able an­i­mals, long bred for their power and speed, are out of sight. Even the spec­ta­cle of Thor­ough­breds stretch­ing their legs along the sky­line is lim­ited to the early hours of the day, so, when there is no race meet­ing, the equine ba­sis of New­mar­ket’s eco­nomic and cul­tural life is ef­fec­tively in­vis­i­ble.

It can be traced back over more than four cen­turies to 1605, when James I came to en­joy hunt­ing and hawk­ing on New­mar­ket Heath. The wide Suf­folk land­scape was soon be­ing ex­ploited for breed­ing and test­ing horses for speed and ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity, es­sen­tial not only for rac­ing and hunt­ing but also war­fare, once cav­al­ry­men had aban­doned plate ar­mour.

How­ever, this un­seen world is about to be re­vealed. Be­hind the com­mer­cial High Street, a new Na­tional Her­itage Cen­tre for Horserac­ing and Sport­ing Art has been cre­ated. This in­ge­nious scheme en­twines art, arte­facts and live horses, with some­thing to please ev­ery­one. Rooted in far­sighted ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Suf­folk County Coun­cil, For­est Heath Dis­trict Coun­cil, the town of New­mar­ket and di­verse el­e­ments of the rac­ing in­dus­try, the project goes back more than 30 years.

In about 1980, the Roth­schilds sold the rem­nant of Charles II’S New­mar­ket res­i­dence, Palace House, to For­est Heath Dis­trict Coun­cil. In the mid 1980s, fol­low­ing the re­tire­ment of the trainer Bruce Hobbs, the large spa­ces in the town cen­tre oc­cu­pied by the Trainer’s House and sta­b­le­yards be­came

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