Nineteenth-Century Racehorse Stables in their Rural Setting: A Social and Economic Study
Scattered across the face of rural Britain at any one time during the nineteenth century were up to 200 training stables for thoroughbred racehorses. These provided the underpinning for the popular sport of horseracing and were also both a significant source of rural employment and a contribution to rural culture. Despite a growing recognition by rural historians that rural communities are composed of interlocking parts and linked social structures, and a regular focus on the parish, village, estate or farm, these microcommunities have remained largely ignored and undocumented. Equally, sports historians have concentrated largely on sports players to the exclusion of ancilliary staff. This article breaks new ground therefore in giving a more rounded picture of an important aspect of horseracing in its rural setting, beginning by examining the social and economic organisation of stable life and its power relationships, before showing the contribution of the stables firstly to the local economies, and secondly to the cultural life of the local communities in which they were set.