Detailed DescriptionBy 1666 the Round Course to the west of the Devil's Ditch had been laid out over a distance of three miles and six furlongs, finishing at the Rowley Mile Stand (in Suffolk) on The Heath. The Bunbury Mile, now the July Racecourse, runs parallel to the west of Devil's Ditch and existed in 1787 for matches between two famous horses.
The Beacon Course was laid out commencing at the Cambridge Road further to the west and was 4 miles and 1 furlong long. Its start is marked by a post in a field at the top of Four Mill Hill, but the course has been shortened by the recent construction of the A11. A plan of Newmarket Heath in 1787 shows an extension of the Beacon Course to Six Mile Bottom.
By the 1750s The Jockey Club was set up in Newmarket and became the governing body of the sport and from 1808 bought land around the town in order to preserve the Heath for racing and its associated activities. Devil's Ditch, overlooking and to the east of the July Course, has the distinction of being the only part of the Heath from which the Jockey Club could not warn people off if they offended against the rules of racing.
- Access & Directions
Access Contact Detailshttp://www.newmarketracecourses.co.uk/autumn/index.html
Detailed HistoryThis historic landscape for racing horses is included here as it was designed for pleasure. In 1605 James I ‘did hunt hare with his own hands in the fields of Fordham'. He took his lunch close to the King's Park which adjoined the village. Hunting, hawking and horse racing continued for three days during the King's visits to Newmarket.
In 1619 serious steps were taken to improve sport around the town, and a new warren or chase was extended to a circuit of ten miles but in 1654 all meetings and horse races were forbidden by Oliver Cromwell. After the Restoration, Charles II visited Newmarket and soon horse racing became fashionable.