Newmarket - Encyclopedia

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NEWMARKET, a market town in the Newmarket parliamentary division of Cambridgeshire, England, 131 m. E. by N. of Cambridge on the Bury branch of the Great Eastern railway. Pop. (1901) 10,688. A part of the town is in Suffolk, and the urban district is in the administrative county of West Suffolk. Newmarket has been celebrated for its horse-races from the time of James I., though at that time there was more of coursing and hawking than horse-racing. Charles I. instituted the first cuprace here. For the use of Charles II., during his visits to the races, a palace, no longer extant, was built on the site of the lodge of James I. There are numerous residences belonging to patrons of the turf, together with stables, and racing and training establishments. The racecourse, which lies south-west of the town, has a full extent of 4 m., but is divided into various lengths to suit the different races. The course intersects the so-called Devil's Ditch or Dyke (sometimes also known as St Edmund's Dyke), an earthwork consisting of a ditch and mound stretching almost straight for 5 m. from Reach to Wood Ditton. It is 12 ft. wide at the top, 18 ft. above the level of the country, and 30 ft. above the bottom of the ditch, with a slope of 50 ft. on the south-west side and 26 ft. on the north-east. It formed part of the boundary between the kingdoms of East Anglia and Mercia, but is doubtless of much earlier origin. Roman remains have been found in the neighbourhood.

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