Kings and Queens and their Palaces in Newmarket

Monday 25th February 1605
James I visits Newmarket for the first time and knighted 2 gentlemen, then knighted 4 more the next day before his Royal party enjoyed the pleasures of the chase. In all he made 99 knights at Newmarket during his reign. At this time Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester, was 'Master of the Horse', holding the post from 1st January 1601 to 1st January 1616, having succeeded the Earl of Essex, and was then replaced by Sir George Villiers, later made the Duke of Buckingham in 1623. Even as early as 1605 James I had a desire to make Newmarket a regular place to visit, appointing John Bancks (sic) as keeper of Wilbrahm (sic) Bushes, the New Warren and King's hare park.
16th November 1607
James I left London bound for Newmarket where he stayed at the Griffin Inn, leasing it from Leonard Beale for £10 per annum. Richard Hamerton was appointed 'Keeper of the King's House' in Newmarket during this period and, on 11th February 1608 was granted £500 to hold the post for the remainder of the lease, with an additional £60 granted on 20th April 1608. Adjacent to the Griffin Inn was a house which was acquired by the King from Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, and the king demolished the Griffin Inn and House and had a splendid new residence built which became his Palace in Newmarket where he was able to welcome Ambassadors and Noblemen. His parties enjoyed deer hunts (March 1608 with Sir Thomas Lake), and plays performed by actors from Cambridge, hunting expeditions and hare-hunting.
14th October 1608
James I spent a prolonged period at his Newmarket residence, accompanied by Sir Thomas Lake, avoiding the plague which swept through London at that time.
1st October 1609-December 1609
James I resides at Newmarket for a further lengthy spell, in part forced on him due to a period of severe weather, and he spent much of his time writing poetry in between carrying out his public duties. He was able to hunt in late November, and early December, once the weather eased. By 1609 the building of his Palace was underway and he ordered that work on roads between London and Newmarket should be improved to make his regular journeys easier. One bill for such road improvements was £29 10s.
In 1609 the accounts for the building of the Royal Palace showed a total of £457 6s 4 ½ d was spent on wages and materials. Workmen's wages per day were:- Masons 18d, Carpenters 10d-18d, Bricklayers 14d-17d, Plasterers 14d-22d, Joiners 18d, Plumbers 18d, Labourers 9d-12d, Sawyers 2s 6d per couple. Richard Griffin had the task of sourcing and laying 303 1/2 sq yards of bulrush mats for the King's new privy lodgings and the Noblemen's lodgings.
May 1610
James I welcomed Louis Frederick, Prince of Wirtenberg, to his Newmarket Palace, and the party enjoyed hare-hunting. Very little racing took place during the reign of James I as his interest was in hunting.
February 1611
James I stayed at his Newmarket Palace along with his eldest son, Henry Frederick, the Prince of Wales, who was 17 years old. He paid two Frenchmen £80 to teach the Prince the arts of dancing and fencing. Unfortunately, the Prince of Wales died of typhoid fever a year later, in November 1612, aged just 18 and was succeeded by his younger brother Charles.
A further £59 4s 4d was spent on the Palace, while between 1612 and 1613 an additional £162 2s 8d was expended.
March 1612
James I makes Sir Henry Vane a Knight at his Newmarket Palace. In the same year Sir Robert Vernon was appointed 'Keeper of the King's Newmarket Palace', after the death of Richard Hamerton, the previous Keeper.
While only £46 9s 11d was spent in 1613-14, the main expense fell the next year when £4660 11s 9 1/2 d was spent on stone and brick for the King's great chambers and other adjacent rooms.
July 1614
The King is joined by the King of Denmark at his Newmarket Palace and the entourage enjoy hare-hunting and bear baiting.
12th January-22nd March 1615
James I resides at his Newmarket Palace, entertaining the Marquis of Brandenburg. He Knights Sir Dudley Norton on 19th January.
Additional land, 3 roods, was acquired and the expenditure for the 2 years 1615-16 and 1616-17 was £2606 13s 2d and £2446 3s 0 1/2d respectively on outbuildings, extensive gardens, stables, kennelling for the King's hounds, a tennis court and the brewhouse.
James I is accompanied by his son Charles and creates him Prince of Wales by letters signed in Newmarket on 4th November 1616. On 1st January 1616 Sir Thomas Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester, relinquishes his post of 'Master of the Horse' and is replaced by Sir George Villiers.
Annual amounts for the extension and upkeep of the Palace were:-
1617-18  £467 15s 4 1/2d
1618-19  £476 12s 4d
1619-20 £975 2s 6d
1621-22  £238 2s 8 1/2d
1622-23  £253 2s 6d
1623-24  £187 9s 10 1/2d
1624-25  £148 5s 6 1/2d
In total, between 1609 and 1625, a total of £20,383 13s 2d (equivalent to £5.5 million in 2021) was laid out on the Palace during the reign of James I.
The King's wife, Anne of Denmark, dies on 2nd March 1619, but his period of mourning ends within a fortnight, as he attends a horserace in Newmarket on 19th March and stays so long at the meeting that he has to stop at an Inn at Wichfordbridge before making Royston late at night. In 1619 the Palace was extended to include a new brick and stone lodge, 3 storeys high, designed by Inigo Jones for the Prince of Wales.
An account, written by Sir Richard Graham who was 'Gentleman of the Horse' serving under Sir George Villers, 'Master of the Horse', contained a list of the Royal Stud horses kept for the chase and for races on the turf. In addition to a Royal Stud at Newmarket, there were other Royal Studs at Tutbury, Eltham, Cole Park, Malmesbury which was later leased to Sir George Marshall in 1625. The account also states that Sir George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, lost a £100 wager to Lord Salisbury at Newmarket, further stating that the King's jockeys were Thomas Freman and John Pritchard. The 'surveyors of the races' at this time, each paid £22 pa, were Sir William Powell and Sir George Marshall, Sir William had been knighted at Royston on 6th October 1614 and was paid an additional £500 pa for 'keeping the King's racing mares'. Whilst it is known that James I enjoyed deer and hare hunting, probably preferring them to horse racing, he did attend meetings throughout the country. On Monday 10th March 1611 the King and his court attended Croydon races, while in the Spring of 1617 he attended Lincoln racecourse, moving on to Durham in April 1617 when he was present at a race meeting at Woodham Moor.
5th October 1622
James I and his entourage left Hampton Court on 5th October, passing through London and Royston on the way to Newmarket where he spent much of November, meeting Sir Edward Conway and the Dutch Commissioners. The weather was so severe in London that 280 inhabitants a week were dying of the cold. At this stage in his life the King suffered badly from both gout and arthritis. Newmarket Heath was said to be awash with highwaymen who carried out their crimes and then made haste to London to be commit, and be arrested for, petty crimes for which they were put in jail for a month, enabling them to be sheltered until the 'hue and cry' over their Newmarket crimes had blown over.
February-March 1625
In the latter years of his life James I suffered from poor health and drank quite heavily. He spent Christmas 1624 confined to his bedchamber due to his deteriorating health, but did make his way to Newmarket on 3rd February 1625, his final visit to his Palace in the town, where he was accompanied by the Duke of Buckingham. On 27th February the King and his council made the short journey to Chesterfield Park, on their way to Royston, where he was joined by Charles, Prince of Wales. They ventured on to Theobalds House on 1st March where they remained for the rest of the month. The King was plagued by severe attacks of arthritis, gout, and fainting fits, and at noon on 27th March 1625 the King suffered a stroke and died, after which the Prince of Wales was immediately crowned King Charles I.
November 1626
After the death of his father, James I, in March 1625 the former Prince of Wales, Charles was crowned King Charles I. It was over 18 months later that he was due to visit the King's Palace in Newmarket, although he was advised against it by the Duke of Buckingham who feared that the Palace was not sufficiently guarded. Upkeep of the Palace, and in particular the stables and mews at Newmarket, was by Francis Wetherlay, 'Surveyor of His Majesty's Stables', who was paid £95 8s 6d in April for his work.
February-March 1627
The first occasion King Charles I visited Newmarket was on 23rd February 1627, and he was certainly still in Newmarket on 2nd March, but left 3 days later for a stay at Theobalds.
February-March 1628
Charles I spent a short time during Spring in Newmarket from 23rd February to 10th March, although he was more interested in tennis than horse racing during the visit.
February-March 1630
A further 3-week spell, from late February to early March, saw Charles I and his court at Newmarket, but he does not appear to have gone racing during this period, although upkeep of the Royal Stables was put at £12,438 19s 4 3/4 d (equivalent to £2.8 million in 2021).
February 1632
On 28th February 1632 the King, accompanied by his Queen and the Prince of Wales, stayed in Newmarket and almost certainly went racing with the Earl of Pembroke, a horse racing fanatic who gambled recklessly. The only record of a bet ever made by the King in Newmarket concerned an 80-year-old court attendant, Mungo Moore, who the King laid odds of 3/1 that Moore could not gain access to the King of Sweden's camp. Moore duly paid the King 3 pieces, but it is not clear whether he won the bet.
March 1634
Although there are more references to James I going horse racing than Charles I, particularly away from Newmarket at Lincoln, Durham and Croydon, Charles I did introduce the Newmarket Gold Cup which was first contested on 14th March 1634, and it is thought to have been won by Bay Tarrall.
January- February 1636
Prior to the King's visit in the Spring of 1636, Robert Ford, under-keeper of the Newmarket Palace, was paid £22 10s to prepare the Palace for the King’s arrival. The King arrived on 24th January 1636, remained until 5th February, and during his visit he examined his game, hares and partridges, below the Beacon and on the hunting fields leading to the Seven Mile Ditch.
March 1642
On the 12th and 13th March 1642 King Charles I paid his penultimate visit to Newmarket, the final time he was there as a free man, and knighted 3 people. The English Civil War began on 22nd August 1642, so Charles was preoccupied with other matters.
Charles I, who was handed over to the 'English Long Parliament' by the Scots in February 1647, was initially sent to Holdenby House, Northamptonshire, but in June 1647 he was escorted by Cornet George Joyce to Newmarket, arriving on 4th June 1647 and, despite being captive, was allowed to exercise on the Heath, but in due course Cromwell arrived and escorted him to London, ultimately to be tried, found guilty of treason and beheaded on 30th January 1649.
After the death of Charles I, during the time of Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, the Royal Palace in Newmarket was all but obliterated by Colonel John Okey, and a consortium of 6 other gentlemen, on the orders of Cromwell. Okey was a regicide who had approved the execution of Charles I, and although he was eventually executed at Tower Hill on 19th April 1662, not before he had demolished most of the Palace. The only parts which remained were:-
2 brew-houses
Pantry and Butteries
Old building nearest to the street
Building at the end of the former tennis-court
Forge and coach-houses
Stable block nearest to the Church
Paddock and extensive gardens
In a destructive 10-year period, all evidence of the following had disappeared:-
King’s extensive brickwork lodgings, in its entirety, was razed to the ground;
Long gallery was obliterated;
Prince of Wales’s state lodgings eradicated;
Prince’s kitchen and wardrobe liquidated;
Numerous suites of offices for state business vanished;
Kitchen hearth wiped out;
Tennis court decimated;
Main stables, barns, riding-house and kennels annihilated.
September 1658
On 3rd September 1658 Oliver Cromwell died and was replaced by his son Richard.
May 1660
The reign of King Charles II began on 29th May 1660 and with it a new chapter in the history of horse racing in Newmarket.
August 1660
Robert Ford, former 'Keeper of the King's Newmarket Palace' for Charles I, contacted Charles II with a request to be reinstated as 'Keeper of the relics and ruins of the Palace', a requested which Charles II agreed to on 13th August 1660, making Ford custodian of the ruins and royal gardens at 2 shillings per day.
One of the most urgent tasks, as far as King Charles II was concerned, was to have the Royal Stables repaired, so in 1661 John Boyspole was appointed 'Surveyor of the Royal Stables', advanced £800 to carry out the repairs, an undertaking which took more than 2 years. In the early 1660s the stables in Newmarket housed 43 stallions, colts or racers and 31 hunting horses looked after by 43 grooms in total, and ridden by 4 principal Royal jockeys, Peter Alliband, George Horniblowe, William Burgany and John Smith.
The earliest record of King Charles II attending a Newmarket race meeting after being crowned was at the Spring Meeting in 1663 when the opening race, a Match for £100, between the 3rd Duke of Richmond, Charles Stewart, and the 3rd Lod of Suffolk, James Howard, was won by the Duke.
A pivotal moment in horse racing history, and in the history of Newmarket, occurred in 1665 when, on 16th October 1665, King Charles II issued an Article for a race, the Newmarket Town Plate, for horses carrying 12 stone over the Newmarket Round Course on the second Thursday in October each year. Although there was no Jockey Club at this stage, this is one of the first sets of rules governing a race in Newmarket. It is clear that, at this point in time, there is a Clerk of the Course, a Clerk of the Race, a Treasurer, many Judges, one of whom is responsible for checking the weights of riders.
Rule 1 Every horse, mare or gelding shall be led out between 11 and 12 o’clock ready for a 1pm start.
Rule 2 Every horse shall carry 12st and if, when weighing in, a rider shall be over 1 1/2 lbs short of the required weight, he shall win no prize.
Rule 3 Every horse that rides the new Round Course, 3 times over, on the outside of the Ditch from Newmarket, shall leave all posts and flags the first and last heats on the right-hand side, and in the second heat on the left hand side, starting and ending at the weighing post by Cambridge Gap, also called Thomond's Post.
Rule 4 If a horse goes, either willingly or for advantage, within any of the flags, he shall win no prize and lose his stake, but if he is thrust between the flags he shall only lose the heat, provided he keeps within all of the rest of the flags and does not get distanced.
Rule 5 Between each heat there should be half an hour for relief, and for the horses to be rubbed down.
Rule 6 If an owner, servant, rider, party or bettor appears willingly to stop any other horse then he shall win no prize.
Rule 7 If any rider lays hold on, or strikes, another horse then he shall win no prize.
Rule 8 If any horse falls and unseats his rider, if that rider remounts and is not distanced, as determined by the Judge, then he shall only lose the heat.
Rule 9 If any Judge weighs any rider at the end of any heat, and finds that he has fraudulently cast away any of his weight, wanting more than 1 1/2 lbs, he shall lose the Plate.
Rule 10 If any dispute arises about the rules of riding which are not covered by these Articles, then it shall be referred to the Judges, or Noblemen and Gentlemen present who have contributed to the Plate.
Rule 11 Every horse which wins 3 heats shall win the Plate.
Rule 12 Every horse running for the Plate shall pay £3, except a contributor’s horse who shall put in £2.
Rule 13 Whoever wins the Plate shall give 20 shillings to the Clerk of the Race to be distributed to the poor on both sides of Newmarket, and 20 shillings to the Clerk of the Course to keep the course 'plain and free from cart roots'.
Rule 14 The Clerk of the Race should receive the stakes before any horse starts, and should deliver the stakes to a tenant (Treasurer) who is given sufficient security to look after the money and to ensure that some money is available for the next year's prize.
Rule 15 Prior to the running of every heat the rider shall deposit 20 shillings to the Clerk of the Race, the total being given to the winning horse, except the last horse in the heat shall pay the stakes of the second horse, so saving him his stake.
Rule 16 No horse which does not win any of the 3 heats shall be permitted to 'come in and run the course'.
Rule 17 The Plate shall be run on the second Thursday in October, every rider to carry 12 stone, but if any gentleman 'shall carry weight in his saddle', he shall have liberty, provided he allows 2lbs to the rest for the weight of their saddles.
Rule 18 The Clerk of the Race summons the riders to start again at the end of half an hour by the signal of a drum, trumpet or any other way, setting up an hour glass for that purpose.
Rule 19 No man is admitted to ride for the Plate that is either a serving man or groom.
Rule 20 Those horses that after the running of the 3 heats shall run the 4-mile course, shall lead away and start within 1 1/2 hours or shall win no Plate.
March 1666
Although Charles II had attended Newmarket races in the Spring of 1663, and had issued rules for the Newmarket Town Plate in 1665, he had not been able to stay in Newmarket because the former Royal Palace had been destroyed. In March 1666 Charles was able to witness the extent of that destruction while, at the same time, assessing the land on which the former Palace had been built. He was able to use some of that land, and also purchase additional land nearby, to launch his plan to build his own 'replacement' Palace.
In 1668 work begins on his new Palace, replacing the completely destroyed Palace of James I, although not on exactly the same site. Further details about the 2 King's Palaces will follow in its own section.
Tregonwell Frampton was born at Moreton in Dorset in 1641, and from an early age enjoyed country pursuits, especially hawking, cock-fighting and hare coursing, although throughout his life his main love was reserved for horse racing. He was born at a time when the earliest shoots of racing were beginning to bloom. Newmarket Heath was cleared in 1660 and this, along with Nell Gwynn, attracted King Charles II to Newmarket. Tregonwell began to attend race meetings on a regular basis, even buying a house in Newmarket, and he acquired ground at the foot of Warren Hill and Long Hill on which he built his first stables in 1670.
March 1675
King Charles II won the 10th running of the Newmarket Town Plate on 20th March 1675. The event was recorded by Sir Robert Carr the next day when he wrote, 'Yesterday His Majesty rode himself 3 heats and a course, and won the Plate, all fower (sic four) were hard and neer riden (sic well ridden), and I do assure you the King won by good horsemanship'.
March 1683
On 22 March 1683 fire destroyed stables near the market place, aided by a strong wind which saw 66 houses ablaze, causing over £20,000 worth of damage to the town. King Charles II was moved out of the Palace to avoid the smoke and left for London.
Tregonwell Frampton could rightly be called the first trainer in Newmarket, the 'father of the turf', and was made the official 'keeper of the running horses' at Newmarket in 1695, initially for William III who died on 8th March 1702, followed by Queen Anne who died on 1st August 1714, then George I who died on 22nd June 1727, and finally George II who outlived Tregonwell.