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Earliest meeting: Wednesday 5th July 1721
Final meeting: Saturday 14th May 1864
Swaffham is a Norfolk market town located 12 miles east of Kings Lynn and 30 miles west of Norwich. The earliest record of a 2 day meeting was in the Stamford Mercury of Thursday 8th June 1721, advertising a meeting on Wednesday 5th and Thursday 6th July 1721. The extract from the newspaper is shown below. The first mention of a meeting in the town in Baily's Racing Register was a 3 day card starting on Tuesday 30th September 1755. The opening Give & Take was won by Mr Bigland’s Blood defeating Lord Gower’s Little Davy. A later record indicated an extended 4 day meeting from Monday 27th to Thursday 30th September 1762 when the main handicap was won by Lord Portmore’s Bosphorus defeating the Duke of Devonshore’s Contest.  The course was to the south west of the town and a cricket ground was later developed in the centre of the course, and on one famous occasion in 1797 Norfolk took on an ‘All England’ team at the ground. The side purse for the match was 500 guineas and Norfolk won the contest. Meetings were extremely well supported both by the locals and by an impressive list of nobility and landed gentry. A typical example was from the meeting on Tuesday 24th September 1782 when the feature race was sponsored by the Earl of Oxford, and was fought out between horses owned by Lord Offery and Lord Clermont. Meetings were staged for over a century until what was thought to be the last card on 27th September 1861. However, a revival meeting was staged on Saturday 14th May 1864 when the Swaffham Handicap went to Martha O’Lynn owned by Mr Mellon.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons

Duke of Devonshire, Duke of Kingston, Lord March, Lord Portmore, Lord Orford, Sir J Lowther, Earl of Oxford, Lord Clermont, Lord Offery, Lord Stradbroke, Colonel Wilson, Sir J Astley

Principal Races Earl of Oxford Stakes, Town Plate, County Members Plate

The newspaper extract below is shown courtesy of the Stamford Mercury and British Library Online.

Monday 27th to Thursday 30th September 1762

Swaffham 2 mile Purse
1. Unnamed filly owned by Mr Croft
2. Sylla owned by Lord Portmore
3. Phoebe owned by Sir J Lowther

Swaffham 2 mile Weight for Age Handicap
1. Bosphorus owned by Lord Portmore
2. Contest owned by the Duke of Devonshire
3. Pegasus owned by Lord Orford

Tuesday 24th September 1782

Earl of Oxford Stakes over a mile
1. Rutland owned by Lord Clermont
2. Brisk owned by Lord Offery
3. Margaretta owned by Mr Pratt
The winner wore Scarlet, the second Pea Green and the third Red with Black cap.

Wednesday 25th August to Thursday 26th August 1824

Swaffham Plate over 2 miles
1. Bravura owned by Mr R Pettit
2. Furbisher owned by Lord Stradbroke
3. Unnamed filly by Phantom owned by Colonel Wilson

Swaffham Town Plate over 2 miles
1. Unnamed colt by Soothsayer owned by Mr Prince
2. Spoiled Child owned by Sir J Astley
3. Morgiana owned by Mr O’Connor

County Members Plate over 4 miles
1. Unnamed sister to Schedam owned by Colonel Wilson
2. Apparition owned by Mr Cay

I am grateful to Ordnance Survey (© Crown Copyright) for permission to use the map shown below.

The final meeting took place on Saturday 14th May 1864.
Course today To the south west of the town with a cricket pitch in the centre of the course.
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:-

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

Copies of the above books are only available by emailing johnwslusar@gmail.com stating your requirements, method of payment (cheque payable to W.Slusar) or Bank transfer, and the address where the book(s) should be sent.
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Volume 1 North of Hatfield £19.99 + £4 postage    
Volume 2 South of Hatfield £14.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 3 Wales & Scotland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 4 Ireland £9.99 + £3 postage    
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