Monday Minstrel: The London Cart Horse Parade 1903

This is the report from the Daily Graphic, June 2 1903, on the London Cart Horse Parade.

It can scarcely be said that the weather that favored the 18th Cart Horse Parade in Regents Park yesterday, was made to order for cloudy would have been favorable to the fierce sunshine which commenced at an early hour and lasted throughout the day. Muriel Willoughby , wearing a costume of rose red. distributed the prizes. It was a long and laborious process, this distribution of awards, for upward of 800 entries had been made and out of them a majority had received a red rosette which entitles them to come up and claim a diploma.

An early start was therefore imperative and the members of the society , which owes its existence to Walter Gilbey and Mr. Burdett-Coutts, are so numerous that a police force of 200, reinforced with officers of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, found it quite as much as they could do to to control the excitable but good humored holiday makers.

The object of the Society is to encourage the men to treat their horses well and keep them in good trim by the stimulus of money and diplomas. There were 586 single horse vehicles, 62 pairs, 30 teams commonly called “unicorns”. But several were turned back at the entrance to the park by the veterinary inspectors who are instructed not to pass horses manifestly too light for work or unsound. The judges were very much on the lookout for anything like deficient grooming or ill fitting harness. There were two distinct groups in the competition yesterday . The first being horses and carts belonging to individual firms and the second being those of the borough councils. Winners were announced by Mr. John Colom as he handed the diplomas to Muriel Willoughby.

The Daily Graphic June 2, 1903.

Muriel Willoughby was my Grandmother. She was not a horse person and I have no clue as to why she was handing up the diplomas. She was a business woman who owned a store that sold children’s clothing that she herself designed. I found the drawing of her handing up the Diploma to one of the drivers, and the news article that went with it, in a scrapbook of mine. I had outlined her dress in a purple pen which I assume was to make it look like the description of her dress as “rose red”.

I cannot begin to imagine the scene with all these horses and carriages. And if they were all at Regents Park, for the awards, how did the people of London get any transport on that day? Also, I love how the article is written. It is language we would never find in a newspaper today and I wanted to share it with you.

12 Comments Add yours

  1. What a wonderful piece of family lore, and a fascinating vignette of life in those days!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Robert. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Like

  2. Tom Fitz says:

    I would wager a gold sovereign that were it not for a cruel twist of fate (not to mention a calendaric error of some 1.17 centuries) my Percheron, Cloud would have carried the rosette for best in show.

    I further wager that La Willoughby would have almost certainly dispensed with the accepted protocols of the day by bestowing similar recognition upon the suave sophisticate who – exuding at times a quite irreverent, but nevertheless irresistible rakish charm – accompanied the aforementioned example of equine magnificence.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      A well groomed Percheron would no doubt have been winning a big rosette. And as for the ‘Driver” I feel certain any member of the Willoughby family would have been happy to make his acquaintance .

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful feel to know this. From your grandmother to now how horses connected with your family. Nature always has reason for everything. Thanks for sharing maa. You always shares wonderful messages that gives beautiful feel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      I am so glad you enjoyed this post with the references to my Grandmother. 😃 Thank you for this comment!

      Like

  4. Emma Cownie says:

    Incredible stuff. I love your grandmother’s outfit. That enormous hat! I suppose 800 cart-horses were just a fraction of the working horses in London. I wondered if took place on a Sunday but no, June 2nd was a Tuesday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      When I read about the drivers and their families referred to as “holiday makers” I thought that this must be a day off work for them. And yes her hat is something else. She was very pretty and charming according to those who knew her. When I was little I had a good relationship with her but she was quite elderly by then.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is really interesting. The family tie-in makes it even more so. What fun to see little snippets of the life of a relative who lived during a different era.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thanks for commenting. It is something from another era!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Vicky Earle says:

    How fascinating! Thank you for sharing. I’ve not heard of this event before.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      You are most welcome. I can’t imagine all those carts and horses gathered. Must have been quite a scene.

      Liked by 1 person

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