Racing at Newmarket
On 1 July 1956, Rachel Parsons, by now a successful racehorse owner, was bludgeoned to death at her racing stables in Newmarket on the Suffolk/Cambridgeshire border. At the time of her death, aged 71, Rachel was numbered among the richest people in Britain, well known in the highest social circles. Her brutal killing made headline news on both sides of the Atlantic, especially when it became known that a 26-year-old stable boy had been charged with her murder.
Rachel had been drawn to Newmarket soon after the Second World War by a lifelong love of horses and horse-racing. This passion was inherited from her mother, Katharine (née Bethell), who had grown up in a large landowning family in the East Riding of Yorkshire. At the time of her death, Rachel owned 72 horses, nine of them in training. Most of them were stabled at Branches Park, her stud farm in Suffolk, and at Lansdowne House, her home in Newmarket. The parkland at Branches had been laid out in the mid-18th century by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.
Newmarket has a connection with horse-racing that goes back to Stuart times, and it is widely acknowledged as the home of British thoroughbred racing. Today, it is home to more than 3,000 horses and 50 training stables. Its two world-famous racetracks are the Rowley Mile and the July Course. Two Classic races, the 2,000 Guineas and the 1,000 Guineas, are held at Newmarket each year, as is the July Cup, part of the British Champions series.