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Correspondence 2018

June 2018

A correspondent is interested in the history of Brazilian Terrace Newmarket.

Our Society member Tony Pringle has provided this information: Henry Fitzroy, illegitimate son of Charles II became Duke of Grafton (family estate at Euston, near Thetford.) Grafton Street was the original name of Black Bear Lane and at times both names were used. A house once standing at the site of the Memorial Hall was named Grafton House.

The Black Bear Lane name was being used in 1849 just as Grafton Street was still being used certainly until WW2. Grafton Street is still the name on the 1926 Ordnance Survey map, and the 1936 Directory, when George P. Cox was the resident at No 5 Brazilian Terrace. Strangely there are 8 houses listed in the terrace in the 1936 directory and there seems to only 6 now and no sign of how this came about.

However, Farley House on the corner of Falmouth Street seems to be No 1 Brazilian Terrace despite the door being in Falmouth Street. Likewise, the door on the corner of Doris Street (has been convenience store and saddlers at times since WW2) apparently is No 8 Again it is odd to be numbering towards the High Street rather than away, but then Newmarket was never straight forward.

Brazilian Terrace at Junction with Doris Street

The Black Bear pub is mentioned certainly as early as 1787 on Chapman’s map, closing as a pub in 1976. In the 1901 map Grafton Street ends at the junction with Fitzroy Street and then becomes The Rows (showing 8 houses in Brazilian Terrace). Another anomaly since the Rows is always considered to be where the horse track is now opposite Houldsworth Valley school.

Brazilian Terrace was recorded in the newspapers of 1892, but so far, I have not checked the Journal. Several of the houses sold for £700 each in 1898, with rentals around £25-35 a year. In 1922 a “dwelling house and shop” known as 3-8 Brazilian Terrace was for quarterly tenancy at an aggregate annual rent of £134.19s. (tenant to pay the rates). So far not managed to find when the terrace was built.

May 2018

Carina from Germany is restoring an early Sprite Major caravan and seeks some detailed information from anyone who may have worked on this model around 1966 while it was in production at the Newmarket factory. Any information will be passed on.

February 2018

A correspondent asks what we know about the existence of secret tunnels in Newmarket.

NLHS Chair Sandra Easom is somewhat sceptical about the stories and attempts to separate fact from fiction: “There is a long-running mythology about Newmarket’s tunnels. Many of the old Newmarket buildings have cellars. The buildings at the lower (Jockey Club) end of the High Street are where the town’s numerous water springs are located. These frequently flooded the streets until the late ’80s / early ’90s when works were undertaken to control the flooding. The Carlton Hotel, which stood on the site of Boots, had a fountain in its foyer which was fed by its own spring!

Another example, the cellars in York Buildings have pumps in them to pump out the water! I went down there to photograph the cellars and pumps just before the shop closed as Palmers and became Hughes and the different, considerable heights of the flood waters are marked on the walls. This was also the end of the town where several medieval wells have been discovered. The Watercourse is now culverted but still flows under the Jockey Club grounds, under the High Street and on under New Cut. The other tunnel which is nearby is Number 1 Drain. This is Newmarket’s first sewer, built by King Charles II and still in use! So, pedestrian tunnels at that end of the town are unlikely.

Regarding the tunnels of Palace Street, there might have been some used for storage. I have been into one of the residences formed from the original, larger Nell Gwynn’s Cottage which is more or less opposite Palace House. The cellar appeared to have a blocked-up area in the wall.

Palace House is just a tiny remnant of the former King Charles II’s Palace (Palace III). The mythology is that the tunnels allowed the King & Nell to meet in secret. However, he was never worried about people knowing about his various mistresses in Newmarket and Nell had been known at least once to publicly say she would see him later that night! Let’s face it, the 2 buildings are as close as they could be anyway.

Something else, which is just my personal theory, is that tunnels could have been a security risk for the King and his brother James (the Queen stayed at Audley End House, out of Newmarket). During Charles II’s reign Palace III was mainly a new build, replacing the earlier Palace II in a new location. The old site was further down the High St (around the Hughes / King’s location). So, why would they make new, publicly accessible, security risks? The building’s cellars would have been for storage and the King’s goods there would have been kept secure.

If you have trouble visualising this, please see for more details. This website is the copyright property of one of our Committee Members, David Rippington. I mention this because the Palace images you will find there are the result of long and painstaking research by David & other NLHS Members. The images do not exist anywhere else and cannot be used without David’s permission – he has put them up for educational purposes.

Moving on to Sackville Street. Until the 60s / 70s this road was called ‘Shag Bag Alley’. A resident trainer got the road address changed to the present name. I can confirm that there is a tunnel in the back garden of one of the old houses there. However, there does not seem to be any purpose except, perhaps, for cool, dark storage.

January 2018

Ruth Baldesera who lives in Northumberland has written about a lady very much in the Newmarket news in 1956. Can I please ask whether any of your members know where Rachel Parsons is buried in Newmarket cemetery? I live in Newcastle but a friend of mine went to lay some flowers on her grave for me today and could not locate it or see it from the GPS coordinates on find a Can you help me to find her please?

This query has re-opened the story of the fabulously wealthy and once brilliant lady engineer who came to a sad and tragic death at Newmarket in 1956.

We have an entry in these Correspondence files (June 2013) and a more detailed account on this site (see Past Personalities). More information with pictures is also available on the Internet.

Some of our members remember M/s Parsons as a sad and neglected figure in the town during the early 1950s. Tony Pringle is one of them and has added this about M/s Parson’s Newmarket residence where she was murdered.

“It was Lansdowne House that she owned in Newmarket but Basil Foster when he bought it in 1957 renamed the Yard as Holland House which helps confuse the issue as there is a Lansdowne House in Falmouth Avenue. That is the problem in Newmarket with properties with same name. Usually, the Stable Yard and a cottage for the head lad or trainer and the house for the owner.”

As luck would have it Tony has just transcribed the entire burial registers for the cemetery and a group of members has transcribed all the inscriptions on the monuments, which means we can say with certainty that Rachel Mary Parsons rests in grave Newmarket 703, enter from car park, take 2nd path to right and 703 is the 7th grave on the right, a horizontal slab.