The Trackways of the Ancient Icknield Way
To the left of the Rutland Arms Hotel (1815) runs Palace Street, following the course of one of the trackways of the ancient Icknield Way, walked by travellers from as far back as the Stone Age! On the left is a house thought to have been built for Nell Gwynne, King Charles II’s mistress. Further down Palace Street, on the right is Palace House, now part of the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art.
This Grade II* listed building is the only surviving wing of King Charles II’s Newmarket palace. One of its treasures was only discovered in the 1990s: sealed in a first floor brick wall, workmen found a solid framed window, complete with glass and sash and counter-balance mechanism. This would have been state-of-the-art technology when the palace was completed in 1671.
Newmarket’s two medieval parish churches are All Saints and St. Mary’s; originally All Saints lay in Cambridgeshire and St. Mary’s in Suffolk, with the High Street as the county boundary. Both are flint-clad buildings, extensively rebuilt and modernized in the Victorian period.
St. Mary’s was built on the site of a medieval chapel, and many parts of the building date from the fifteenth century, including the tower and the doorway in the south porch. The tracery of the west window is original and the glass of 1930 is by Christopher Webb. There are six bells in the tower, the oldest dating from 1580.
All Saints was used as King Charles II’s royal chapel, sited next to his palace. The only original remnant is the base of the tower, which also preserves interesting memorial stones from the earlier building on its interior walls. Unusually, the rebuilt church was oriented north-south, rather than east-west. There are fine stained glass windows and carved stonework inside and most of the Victorian pews are still in situ. The organ was designed especially for the church by the master organ builder J.J. Binns of Leeds in 1908. All Saints welcomes visitors; if you see the door open, please come in!
Pigs were traditionally kept by racing stables to graze on stable scraps, and from Victorian times butchers developed their own special sausage recipes; their sausages were a sought-after commodity, and one local butcher even used to dispatch a weekly consignment of Newmarket sausages to Scotland by train for the royal household. It became traditional to take home sausages after visiting the Newmarket races, and the dozen or so butchers’ shops in the town struggled to keep up with demand. A ‘black market’ in sausages even arose, with gangs from the races dishonestly trying to obtain more than their quota from the butchers!
Today, thankfully, there is a plentiful supply from the three members of the Newmarket Sausage Association: Musk’s, Powters and Tennant’s. Each has their own secret recipe, and all have won numerous prizes; one has been supplying sausages under Royal Warrant since 1907 and another’s sausages are awarded as a prize in the Town Plate, Newmarket’s oldest horse race. In 2012, the Association secured a coveted Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), meaning that Newmarket Sausages can only be produced within the vicinity of the town and must have a minimum meat content of 70% with a fat content typically less than 20%. Why not visit our local butchers and find out more!
Newmarket Sausages Photo (© Newmarket Journal, 2012)
The Memorial stands at the upper end of the High Street. It is an elaborate stone water trough, commemorating Sir Daniel Cooper, one of Newmarket’s most popular sporting aristocrats and benefactors, who died in 1909 at his second home in London.
He was brought by special train to Newmarket, where his ashes were interred at Newmarket Cemetery, just across the road.
Photo © Rachel Wood, 2016
‘Legends of the Turf’ is Newmarket’s equivalent of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This community project has been designed to recognise the significant contributions of people and horses to the town’s horseracing heritage.
The project was officially launched in July 2014 when the first six commemorative paving slabs were laid in Newmarket High Street. Six more were unveiled in July 2015, with another seven being added in 2016. The recipients of these awards have been voted for by the community, celebrating achievements made in three different categories: horses, jockeys, and racing personalities.
The first six Legends were Hyperion and Frankel; Fred Archer and Lester Piggott; Sir John Astley and Sir Henry Cecil. The 2015 intake comprised Pretty Polly and Shergar; Nat Flatman and Frankie Dettori; Admiral Henry Rous and Sir Noel Murless. The 2016 Legends include St Simon and Bahram; Doug Smith and Steve Cauthen; Mathew Dawson and Alfie Westwood, as well as King Charles II, in celebration of the 350 years since his return to Newmarket, signalling the start of modern organised horseracing in the town.
Legends of the Turf (© Sandra Easom, 2014)
One of the Greatest Intellectual Feats of World War II
The Memorial, by acclaimed sculptor Harry Gray, is located where Palace Street meets the High Street. It commemorates the eminent mathematician Professor W.T. Tutte, who was born in Newmarket in 1917.
In 1941 at Bletchley Park, Bill Tutte succeeded in breaking the extremely complex Lorenz code – without ever seeing the machine that generated it. This was described as “one of the greatest intellectual feats of World War II” – yet when Tutte died in 2002, he was all but unknown. Local residents, businesses and councils worked to ensure that Tutte was publicly honoured in the town of his birth, and the Memorial was unveiled on 10th September 2014.
The Memorial consists of six 2-metre brushed stainless steel panels, pierced to resemble the punched paper tape used to transmit Lorenz messages. Tutte’s features appear in the pattern of holes when viewed from one particular direction, marked on the pavement by a ‘squared square’ (a mathematical puzzle that inspired Tutte as a student at Cambridge University). On the ground before the panels is a 41-toothed wheel, recalling the breakthrough in discovering the structure of the Lorenz machine.
An information board gives further details of Tutte’s achievements, including his later career as a distinguished mathematician in Canada, and instructions to decode the eight ‘punched paper’ bollards around the Memorial.
For more information, or to support the Bill Tutte Scholarship, please visit www.billtuttememorial.org.uk.
Bill Tutte Memorial Image © John Berry, 2014)