Saturday, 17 April 2010

Reigate's horses

Visitors to Reigate might be unaware of its equine history. There isn't a single horse or even a donkey alive in the central part of the town nowadays, whereas there were several at the stables in Reigate's Priory Park as recently as forty years ago.

There is actually a rather high class wooden rocking horse which has been used as the symbol for Reigate Priory Museum since it was founded in the 1970s. The museum is open during school term times on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, and additionally for special occasions such as Heritage Weekend in September each year. At the top of the grand staircase is the rocking horse which used to belong to Mr Clifford Price, former headmaster of Holmesdale School and Reigate Priory School. It was adapted from a fairground horse.

The unique notebook illustrated is one I had made as a gift for CHASE children's hospice.

This second photograph shows the 2010 remains of the beautiful old thatched stables looking from Park Lane with the Priory Park and hills in the background. This is where Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother visited many of her champion racehorses who were trained here over the years. Surrey County Council is responsible for the site. My mother wrote in her book, Discovering Reigate Priory: "In 1997 the buildings were sold for conversion into desirable homes" but there have been no signs of developments since then except decay, neglect and arson.

Reigate Priory's ancient horse ponds were just by the new Pavilion, (now covered up); 6 strong horses were needed to pull carriages up Reigate Hill; do you know about the famous Reigate Mare, or a horse called Plowman which had won the Prince's Plate at Newmarket, the hunting horse that was so admired by King Louis XV that it was given to him, and Reigate's American Countess Beatty who loved to hunt?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for visiting Pigeon Post. Comments are reviewed so there may be a short delay.