Where old pubs have been re-named, we list only the most recent known name here. Other names can be found in the Pub list tab. Ancient pubs are defined as those which are believed to have closed before the middle of the 19th century.
Bronze Age barrows were cleared from the Heath in the 19th century but survive as parch marks in the landscape. The massive Anglo-Saxon earthwork - called the Devil's Dyke" - testifies that the virtual enclave of the area was occupied from ancient times. One of the enduring myths (started by a 19th century Vicar of Exning who was guessing) is that Newmarket started because of the plague in Exning. Newmarket was actually granted its market charter in 1200AD. The plague came to Exning in 1227. Rev. Peter May discovered the market charter document during his research in the 1980s, whilst he Victorian Vicar had no access to this document.
The town appears on John Speed's 1610 map as "Newmerket". The sport of kings, or rather one particular king - Charles II - earned the town its worldwide reputation and prosperity. Charles II is still the only British Monarch to have ridden a winner on the flat and actually won two races here. His ancestor James I is credited with "discovering" Newmarket in Feb 1604 when he came to the Heath to "hunt the hare". He first lodged at a pub called "The Griffin" and subsequently bought it and the one next door, and cobbled them together into a sort of hunting lodge - the first Palace. This collapsed with the King inside! He was dragged free unharmed but it prompted him to build a proper Palace in the town (second Palace). His son Charles I, was a horseracing enthusiast and is said to have built the first (private) grandstand on the Heath. The Palace suffered during the Civil War and consequently, Charles II later built a new Palace (third Palace), a portion of which still remains (restored) in Palace Street today (It is about to become part of The Home of Horseracing Project headed by the National Horseracing Museum).
Secret passages were said to have enabled Charles II to indulge in some of his more scandalous enterprises undetected and supposedly still criss-cross the town. Christopher Wren was also commissioned to build Nell Gwyn a house at Newmarket for her annual visits with the royal party. Much of the town today is Victorian in origin with a handful of Georgian buildings. A modern shopping precenct - sadly called The Guineas - covers a market and residential area formerly known as the Rookery, where several pubs and brewers were once located in a number of narrow streets, including Drapery Row & Albion st. Today only the Bushel survives in this area.
A modern racecourse, paddocks and stud farms now cover much of the old heath. Tattersall's sales ring on the edge of the town is one of the most famous horse markets in Europe. Not surprisingly the National Horse Racing Museum is also based here, located in the High street (open Tue to Sun from April to Dec + bank holidays).
RAF Newmarket Heath was first used by the Royal Flying Corps in 1918-19 when the 190th and 192nd squadrons were based here. In Sep. 1939 Wellington bombers of 99th Squadron arrived here and dispersed around the edges of the racecourse. The grandstand was subsequently used for accommodation and mess halls. The squadron flew many missions until they moved to Waterbeach in March 1941. Coming under control of Stradishall it was then used for many SOE operations including the dropping of supplies and agents into occupied countries and picking-up of agents, politicians, resistance leaders and escaping airmen. Aircraft then included Westland Lysanders and Armstrong Whitworth Whitleys. Towards the end of 1942 the 75th (New Zealand) squadron arrived whilst converting from Wellingtons to Shorts Stirlings and subsequently stayed until June 1943 when they had flown 580 sorties for the loss of 24 aircraft. From July onwards initially Hurricanes and later Spitfires of the Air Fighting Development Unit flew from here until Feb 1945.
Estimated population (2009) of Newmarket: 15 700
Local licensing authority for Newmarket is Forest Heath
Some details from "Suffolk Airfields in WW2" by Graham Smith.
Some historical detail supplied by Sandra Easom
(** historic newspaper information from Bob Mitchell)