The Sport of Kings – Newmarket Horse Racing and the Stuarts

Until the 17th century, the market town of Newmarket, was a quiet community stretching along a Roman highway. Its greatest claim to fame was that the warrior Boudica had lived not far away and had given a good account of herself. Things changed when King James 1st apparently got lost.

James 6th of Scotland and 1st of England.

England's new king was not renowned for his sporting prowess but he took to the hunting field with enthusiasm. In the 21st century it would be difficult to imagine the Queen out riding and then getting lost and left to find her own way home but according to history, James, in pursuit of hares in the fog-covered heathland of Suffolk, lost his way and ended up taking lodgings for the night at an inn named the Griffin. When the mist cleared the following morning, February 28 1605, he learned that he was at a place called Newmarket. So pleased was he with his discovery that he purchased the inn and decided to move there.

The king converted the Griffin into a hunting lodge and also purchased the neighbouring Swan Inn, now the site of Newmarket's Jockey Club. In addition he built himself a palace of sorts so that national business could continue while he was in residence. He spent his years as monarch donating prizes to various race courses and improving the breed of horse. The first recorded race took place at Newmarket in 1622, three years before the king's death.


King Charles 1

James was not a great horse racing man preferring hawking and hunting, but his son Charles, a stutterer, short and with weak legs, was a fearless rider. Having his own place at Newmarket, he frequently took part in matches. At this time it was usual for horses to be matched one against another, a sort of knock out tournament. hard and fast rules were virtually non existent.

Charles is credited with building the first grandstand at Newmarket and two race meetings in the spring and autumn became the norm. It was while he was there that the great portraits by Anthony Van Dyke and Peter Paul Rubens of the king astride enormous horses were painted. By now however, the storm clouds of unrest diverted Charles from sporting activities as seven years of civil war approached. His only return to his palace at Newmarket was as a prisoner.

King Charles II

During his time as Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell suppressed public race meetings fearing that they might become opportunities for royalist gatherings. After 1660 it fell to Charles II to reintroduce them but following the defeat of his father, Newmarket had become a base for disgruntled Parliamentary soldiers and inevitably the palace and other buildings had taken a hammering. Once the palace was restored, Charles II came back to his favourite place with his mistresses to watch his best horses and to ride himself, setting up prizes to encourage competition. He inaugurated the Newmarket Town Plate, a race in which women as well as men could compete. The rules were specific, the race run in heatswith the final taking place "on the second Thursday in October, for ever."

Charles gave his name to one of the two race circuits at Newmarket, the Rowley Mile. The king became known as Old Rowley after the name of the stallion he frequently rode when his runners were being exercised. It had the added barb in that the equine Old Rowley sired many foals.

Queen Mary II and King William III

The short lived reign of Charles's brother James II left little to time for sport and it was not until he was ousted by his niece and her husband, Mary and William of Orange that royal patronage continued. During this time William appointed William Tregonwell Frampton, one of Newmarket's historic eccentrics as Keeper of the King's Running Horses, a position he was to hold for forty years. King William bought promising horses as presents then ironically, he died when his own horse stepped onto a molehill, stumbled and dislodged his royal rider. Jacobite supporters toasted "the little gentleman in the velvet jacket."


Queen Anne

It would be difficult to envy Queen Anne. Daughter of a disgraced king, married to a drunken bore, the Queen endured 17 pregnancies, only four of the babies surviving birth of which only one reached the age of 11 years. Stout and unhealthy herself, horse racing seems an unlikely passion but the Queen kept horses in training at Newmarket. Because of the distance from Windsor Castle however she favoured riding nearer to home at Windsor Great Park and in 1711 she was instrumental in founding a new race course at neighbouring Ascot. Since then, Ascot and Newmarket have been rivals.

The Queen died in 1714, the last of the Stuart monarchs, but breeding horses and horse racing at Newmarket and elsewhere has continued unabated since that time.…

Seattle's Spectacular Waterfront

The potential of the area occupied by the waterfront was known as early as 1792. However, development did not begin till 1852 when the piers in Pioneer Square were built. On completion of the piers, the area soon became a center for commerce and trade in coal, grain and timber. Rapid growth ensued. In 1889 a fire destroyed a large swathe of downtown Seattle and the Waterfront. Seattle rebuilt the damaged sections. Then came the gold rush and Seattle assumed the role of gateway to Alaska. The city built itself a major port and with it Seattle’s growth and future were assured.

The Seattle Waterfront

The creation of the Waterfront as a tourist and recreational area started in the 1970s. Buildings along the waterfront were converted to shops and restaurants. Development of the Seattle Aquarium and parks along the water soon followed. The Port of Seattle moved its Headquarters to Pier 69. A terminal was set up for cruise ships headed for Alaska. It is no surprise the main street of the Waterfront is named Alaska Way.

The Seattle Waterfront is an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and entertainment. It also boasts the freshest and best seafood. Waterfront dining has a special meaning here. The view looking out over Puget Sound is spectacular. The busy goings-on of boats, ferries, water taxis, on the water and the people on the piers makes for a pleasant scene. A free Metro Bus service provides convenient transport along the Waterfront and connects to points beyond.


The Space Needle

Seattle has a wealth of attractions and among them the Space Needle is a must see. Built in 1962 for Seattle’s World Fair, the Space Needle is a prominent landmark. The 360degree view from the deck is outstanding. It looks out over the waterfront, Puget Sound and the city skyline. On a clear day, snow-capped Mount Rainier, majestic and tall dominates the view. The Cascades and Olympia Mountains can also to be seen.

Pike Place Market

The Waterfront has many curio and gift shops – all very touristy and appealing. It is not hard to lose sense of time on the waterfront. A visit to the Pike Place Market is a must. It is one of the largest and most famous Farmer’s Markets in the country. Built in 1903 this public market has operated continuously from 1907 onwards. Built on a steep hill the market occupies several levels. The main level of the market is for fishmongers and produce shops. The shop “Pike Place Fish” is a tourist attraction both for its large offering of seafood and for the fish sent flying through the air by staff from one end of the shop to the other. Seemingly, the flying fish never drops to the floor.

The slippery missile is always expertly caught in flight, wrapped, and handed to the appreciative customer. Asked why customers should come to Pike Place Fish? One of the guys, a fishmonger who works there, answered “Best quality seafood, best service, and the best looking fishmongers in the world!” All the right reasons indeed!

The Pike Place Market has a mix of shops at the many levels of its structure. The shops range from antiques and curios to comic books and everything in between. This is also a public market with the stated mission of letting the customer “Meet the Producer”. Individual farmers, craftsmen and entertainers rent tables and do business on a daily basis. The market has an engaging and friendly atmosphere making it the major tourist attraction that it clearly is.

Waterfront has much to offer. The Seattle Aquarium at the northend provides a close up view of sea life and the natural environment in the Northwest. A little further north is Odyssey, The Maritime Discovery Center and Nautical Museum. The Center introduces visitors to maritime activity of the Northwest and to Puget Sound and its ports and features.

Harbor cruises and tours to the islands of Puget Sound leave at regular interval. The island tours offer a glimpse into the Native American culture at Tillicum Village where dinner of the celebrated Salmon Bake is followed by a cultural presentation.

The Waterfront is a family destination with something for young and old. The waterfront’s parks are great places to take a break and relax. There are picnic tables and benches for the foot-weary tourist. It is tempting to buy a cup of coffee at coffee’s defining city and listen to one of the many concerts or maybe, just sit back and reflect on how beautiful the place is.…