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Earliest Meeting: Monday 29th July 1822
Final Meeting: Monday 29th July 1850
The West Berkshire village of Bucklebury is located about 8 kilometres north-east of Newbury close to the River Pang. The parish of Bucklebury sub-divides into 3 parts, the old village of Bucklebury, to the east is Chapel Row, to the south is Bucklebury Common. Bucklebury has a rich history, being recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book when known as Borgeldeberie and was a royal manor owned by Edward the Confessor. In the 19th century the village held annual ‘robust folk festivals’, called the Chapel Row Revels, which took place on the first Monday after St Anne’s Day on 26th July. Although the Revels were best known for the brutal sport of Backswording, which the Lord of the Manor sponsored for 5 Guineas annually, pony races were also staged during the festivities. Whilst the results from such meetings have not survived, it is thought that the earliest such meeting was held on Monday 29th July 1822. This is evidenced by Robert Bedding in his diary of 1822 when he noted that such a meeting took place on Chapel Row Common on an oval course with perimeter 1,353 yards, bisected by a straight of 968 yards. The norm was for ponies to go around the perimeter of the oval before finishing in the home straight, a total distance of 2,312 yards or approximately one mile 2 ½ furlongs..

This racecourse is not covered in any of the 4 Volumes of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Lord of the Manor of Bucklebury.

I am grateful to Ordnance Survey (© Crown Copyright) for permission to use the map shown below whichs shows Chapel Row Common, site of the annual pony races.

The sport of Backswording was so brutal (essentially competitors attempted to smash the heads of their rivals) that it was  and frowned upon in the 1830s and certainly banned from the middle of the 19th century, suggesting that the final pony race meeting was around Monday 29th July 1850.

The final meeting most likely took place on Monday 29th July 1850.
Course today Chapel Row Common.
If you have photos, postcards, racecards. badges, newspaper cuttings or book references about the old course, or can provide a photo of how the ground on which the old racecourse stood looks today, then email johnwslusar@gmail.com

Much of the information about this course has been found using internet research and is in the public domain. However, useful research sources have been:-

London Illustrated News

Racing Illustrated 1895-1899

The Sporting & Dramatic Illustrated

Northern Turf History Volumes 1-4 by J.Fairfax-Blakeborough

The Sporting Magazine

A Long Time Gone by Chris Pitt first published in 1996 ISBN 0 900599 89 8

Racing Calendars which were first published in 1727

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

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