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Earliest meeting: Sunday 17th August 1727
Final meeting: Thursday 8th April 1875
The first recorded racing at the Lincolnshire town of Grantham took place on Harrowby Fields in 1727. Baily’s Racing Register first provided detailed results from that inaugural meeting held on Sunday 17th August 1727 when Lord Gower’s Miss Wilkins defeated Lord Cardigan’s Dwarf in The Whimsical Plate.  A journal written by Amelia Staniforth (Stanyforth) of Firbeck Hall, Yorkshire covers the years 1782 to 1785, and in 1782 she mentions visiting Grantham Races. The journal provides a detailed insight into how wealthy racing enthusiasts would have travelled to the races and where they would have been accommodated. Firbeck is closely connected with the St Leger family and the first St Leger horse race is reputed to have been run in Firbeck, although it is more likely to have been contested on Cantley Common. Racing continued for the next 150 years and was well-supported by nobility and the landed gentry, as indicated by the extensive list of patrons shown below. Whilst the final meeting on Harrowby Fields was on Wednesday 1st July 1795, a further meeting was staged on Thursday 2nd April 1840 when the Grantham Sweepstake was won by Peter Simple. A final meeting in the vicinity of Grantham was held on Thursday 8th April 1875.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
A brilliant journal of the time was written from 1782 to 1785 and describes how Amelia Staniforth travelled from Firbeck Hall to attend Grantham Races in June 1782. A visit to Grantham Races from Firbeck Hall.
Local Patrons

Duke of Rutland, Lord Gower, Lord Cardigan, Lord Scarborough, Lord Bertie, Lord Aibemark, Lord Manners, Lord Lincoln, Lord Rockingham, Sir Thomas Dundas, Lord Clermont, Lord Grosvenor, Lord G H Cavendish, Sir M Newton

Principal Races Grantham Stakes, Rutland Stakes, The Whimsical Plate

Sunday 17th August 1727

The Whimsical Plate
1. Miss Wilkins owned by Lord Gower
2. Dwarf owned by Lord Cardigan
3. Snip owned by Mr Musters
4. Bald Jack owned by Sir M Newton

8th to 10th June 1762

Grantham 2 mile Purse
1. Driver owned by Mr Tomlinson
2. Snip owned by Mr Adam
3. Scamper owned by Lord Bertie

Grantham 2 mile Stakes
1. Cademus owned by Lord Scarborough
2. Wagg owned by Lord William Manners
3. Splints owned by Mr Adams

Tuesday 18th to Thursday 20th June 1782

The Grantham Stakes over 2 miles
1. Aske owned by Sir Thomas Dundas
2. Catch owned by Mr Douglas
3. Hammer owned by Lord Lincoln
The winner carried White with Scarlet spots and the second Black with a White cap.

Rutland Stakes run over 2 miles
1. Rutland owned by Lord Clermont
2. Czar owned by Mr Douglas
3. Unnamed colt by Sweetwilliam owned by Lord Grosvenor
The winner carried Scarlet colours, the second Black with a White cap, and the third Orange with a Black cap.

The Sporting Magazine records a Spring meeting on Thursday 29th March 1838.
Grantham Sweepstake over 4 miles
1. King Cole owned by Mr Skipworth
2. Radical owned by Mr Green
3. Caledonian owned by Mr Walker
The 4 mile race took 16 minutes and consisted of an amazing 45 fences.

Thursday 2nd April 1840

The Grantham Sweepstakes
1. Peter Simple owned by Mr T Walker
2. Thought owned by Mr Sandiford
3. King Cole owned by Mr Holmes
The winner was ridden by his owner and won by several lengths from his 10 rivals, including mounts owned by Sir T Which cote and Captain Skipworth.

I am grateful to Ordnance Survey (© Crown Copyright) for permission to use the map shown below.

The final meeting took place on Harrowby Fields on 1st July 1795, but a meeting shown above did take place on Thursday 2nd April 1840.

The final Grantham meeting took place on Thursday 8th April 1875.

Course today On Harrowby Fields.
If you have photos, postcards, racecards. badges, newspaper cuttings or book references about the old course, or can provide a photo of how the ground on which the old racecourse stood looks today, then email

Much of the information about this course has been found using internet research and is in the public domain. However, useful research sources have been:-

London Illustrated News

Racing Illustrated 1895-1899

The Sporting & Dramatic Illustrated

Northern Turf History Volumes 1-4 by J.Fairfax-Blakeborough

The Sporting Magazine

A Long Time Gone by Chris Pitt first published in 1996 ISBN 0 900599 89 8

Racing Calendars which were first published in 1727

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

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