9 Feb: Horseracing Hits Britain

Chester Racecourse hosted Britain’s first ever recorded horse-racing meet on 9th February, 1539. The winner received a set of silver bells to hang from their bridal.

Mayor Henry Gee had come up with the idea as a replacement for the traditional Shrove Tuesday football match – which he’d banned for being too riotous and violent.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly debate the folk etymology of ‘Gee Gees’; explain why the Royals were responsible for robbing the North of its equestrian edge; and reveal why Oliver Cromwell took objection to a day at the races… 

Further Reading:

• ‘History – Chester Racecourse’ (chester-races.com): https://www.chester-races.com/about/history/

• ‘Shrove Tuesday football: “No quarter asked nor given”’ (BBC News, 2020): https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-51445310

• ‘Horrible Histories, HHTV Tudor Horse Racing’ (CBBC, 2011):

Image: John S Turner and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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