Sussex Life May 2015 Poetry + solution
PUBLISHED: 15:31 24 April 2015 | UPDATED: 09:50 22 May 2015
Solution for the 'Horsepower' piece by Tony Ward in the Sussex Life May issue
Where is it? Horsepower
Soldiers, Statesmen, Dukes and
Sons of Charles and sons of Charles.
Horses on the course,
Horses on the walls,
Horsepower on the track,
Horsepower in the skies.
A mile on the flat,
an inch on the map.
The Hill – the forty-second climb.
The Flat – the duels on the Downs.
The Field – the dogfights high above.
The Forest – the Woods – listen ...
– the roars of big cats,
– the roars of fast cars,
Fine clothes, fine wine,
Solution - The Goodwood Estate, West Sussex – famous for Horseracing and Motorsport.
Explanation of embedded clues
Goodwood House has been home to the Dukes of Richmond and Lennox since 1697. Originally it was just used as a small hunting lodge, rented by the 1st Duke for foxhunting from the nearby village of Charlton. Successive Dukes, of which there have been ten to date, extended the house, which become a permanent home from 1791 after the family’s London home was destroyed by fire. The 2nd and 3rd Dukes throughout the 18th century also started the planting of the extensive woods and forest which are a feature of the estate. Their shopping lists included 1,000 Cedars of Lebanon together with tulip trees, magnolia and cork oaks.
Other family accomplishments are referenced in the lines “Horses on the walls” and “a mile on the flat/ an inch on the map”. The first refers to the outstanding art collection which includes racehorse portraits painted by George Stubbs (1724 – 1806) during a 9-month stay in 1759.
The second refers to the role of Charles Lennox, 3rd Duke of Richmond, who as Master-General of the Board of Ordnance put into operation the 20-year Trigonometrical survey, presided over by ‘The Ordnance Survey’, which gave us the well-known “One inch to the Mile” OS maps of Great Britain. The initial survey was indeed sometimes referred to as “The Duke of Richmond’s Survey”. Although now superceded by GPS mapping and metric scales, “trig points” still bear silent witness to his achievement.
Besides these legacies the “Soldiers, Statesmen, Dukes and Earls” have played leading roles in public and sporting life. The 2nd Duke pioneered organised cricket in Sussex. The 3rd Duke, a military man, became a Major General at the age of 26 (in later life becoming Field Marshall) and served as Ambassador to the Court of Louis XV at Versailles four years later. The 4th Duke , in 1818, was appointed Governor General of Canada. The 5th Duke was successively ADC to the Duke of Wellington (as also, later, was his son), at Waterloo to the Prince of Orange and finally to Queen Victoria. There followed three more generations of military men, taking us up to the 9th Duke, grandfather of the present Lord March, who after Eton and Christ Church trained as a motor mechanic on the shop floor at Bentley, the trigger to launch Goodwood into the field of Motor Sport. The 10th Duke has been content to delegate this development to his son, instead devoting himself to many key public roles. These include among others, membership of the General Synod of the Church of England, three Heritage bodies, the Chancellorship of Sussex University, and President of the Sussex County Cricket Club.
The current custodian is the Earl of March, born in 1955, who took over the management of the Goodwood Estate Company from his father, the 10th Duke, in1994. The nearly 12,000 acres now support an exceptional range of facilities and activities – organic farming, forestry, horseracing, motor sports, flying, golf and shooting. The facilities also include a 93 bedroomed Hotel and Health Club. Lord March has inherited his grandfather’s love of motor racing, fulfilling a number of nationally important roles including the Presidency of the British Automobile Racing Club.
The perhaps puzzling line “Sons of Charles and sons of Charles” refers to the lineage of the Dukes of Richmond. The first Duke of Richmond was the natural son of Charles II and “his beautiful, aristocratic French mistress” Louise de Keroualle. Every Duke of Richmond since has had Charles as their first or second Christian name.
“Horses on the course”, “Hoof-to-hoof”, “A mile on the flat” and “The Flat – the duels on the Downs” all refer to over 200 years of Goodwood horseracing history. As Colonel of the Sussex Militia, the 3rd Duke introduced horseracing to Goodwood for his officers, when an existing arrangement with the Earl of Egremont at Petworth Park came to an end. Since the first successful two-day meeting the programme of events has mushroomed. This superb venue has always been popular with Royalty from the Prince Regent (later King George IV) to our present Queen. HM The Queen in 1980 opened the new March Stand in 1980, unveiling a bronze horse created by the sculptor, Dame Elizabeth Frink. “Horses make a landscape look beautiful” (Alice Walker).
“Glorious Goodwood” is a jewel in the crown of the British flat racing calendar. “The mile on the flat” and “the duels on the Downs” refer particularly to the ‘Sussex Stakes’, which over the years has seen some outstanding clashes between the best racehorses of their day – “Hoof-to-hoof”.
“Horsepower on the track” refers to Goodwood’s leading role in the history of Motor Sport. The first event, in 1936, was hosted by the 9th Duke of Richmond, Freddie March, a renowned amateur racer and sports car designer. The event was a hill climb meeting for a few Lancia enthusiasts. This has evolved into the Goodwood Festival of Speed annual hill climb founded in 1993 by the current Earl of March, grandson of the 9th Duke. The Festival is now attended by over 100,000 enthusiasts attracted by the historic vehicles competing and Formula One demonstrations. “The Hill – the forty-second climb” refers to the fastest times recorded.
The separate Goodwood Motor Circuit was originally the perimeter track of RAF Westhampnett, a WWII airfield. The Circuit was opened in 1948, and was the venue for the first post-war race meeting at a permanent venue – “wheel-to-wheel”. By 1966 though the Circuit was considered no longer suitable for contemporary motor racing, but remained in use for testing and ‘track days’. This was not the end of the story though. Fifty years to the day since the original opening, on 18 September 1998, the current Earl of March drove his grandfather’s Bristol 400 to re-open the restored track, so instituting the Goodwood Revival. This is now recognised as the world’s most popular historic race meeting. Participants have included Sir Stirling Moss, John Surtees, Sir Jack Brabham, David Coulthard, Damon Hill and many other famous drivers and celebrities, including Rowan Atkinson (as Mr. Bean)!
“The Forest – the Woods - listen .../ - the roars of big cats,/ - the roars of fast cars,/Echoes.”, refers not only to the forest rally stage of the Festival, on a track through the forest designed by Hannu Mikkola. It is also an echo from the distant past of a menagerie built in the‘High Wood’ by the 2nd Duke of Richmond (1701-50) where he kept “lions, tigers, bears, monkeys, eagles and ostriches”.
As already mentioned, in an earlier incarnation, the Motor Circuit also played a part in the history of aviation at Goodwood. “Horsepower in the skies” and “The Field – the dogfights high above” both refer to this period. The land for the airfield was donated by the 9th Duke to assist the War effort. Freddie March, an engineer by training, as well as designing sports cars, also turned his hand to aircraft design. RAF Westhampnett was a relief airfield for the nearby RAF Tangmere. It was active during the Battle of Britain, home to Hurricanes, Spitfires and P-51 Mustangs. The Mustang was an aircraft used by the Fighter Groups of the US 8th Air Force, our combat allies for sorties over Northern France. A flight from Westhampnett over Northern France proved to be Douglas Bader’s last of the war, having to abandon his stricken Spitfire. His bravery is remembered at Goodwood by a full-size bronze statue.
The final verse celebrates the complete Goodwood experience – the Ladies Days, family celebrations (including wedding celebrations -the House is licensed for Weddings), and prestigious corporate events - “Golden days,/ restored, revived./ Glorious”.
Acknowledgement of sources:
‘England’s Thousand Best Houses’, Simon Jenkins, Allen Lane, 2003. (Goodwood House, p768-770).
‘Map of a Nation’, Rachel Hewitt, Granta, 2010. (Chapter Four, ‘The Aristocrat and the Revolution’, p93-103)
‘The Art Book’, Phaidon Press, 1994. (George Stubbs)
‘Horses make a Landscape Look More Beautiful’ (Poetry Collection), Alice Walker, 1985.
(Alice Walker is best known for her bestselling novel ‘The Color Purple’, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1983)
Relevant websites found by searches for ‘ Goodwood’, ‘Goodwood Festival of Speed’, ‘Goodwood Revival’, ‘Goodwood Circuit’, ‘Goodwood aviation’, ‘Glorious Goodwood’, ‘Alice Walker’.