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Gressenhall Farm Diary: Why the farm use Suffolk Punch heavy horses

PUBLISHED: 13:09 18 August 2020 | UPDATED: 13:17 18 August 2020

Suffolk Punch horses working the fields at Gressenhall. Picture: Norfolk Museums Service

Suffolk Punch horses working the fields at Gressenhall. Picture: Norfolk Museums Service

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Gressenhall Farm volunteer Stephen Pope on the local Suffolk Punch horses that keep the workhouse land in shape.

Morning greeting. Picture: Sarah DarnellMorning greeting. Picture: Sarah Darnell

Since 1989 the Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse museum has used Suffolk Punch heavy horses to work the land and demonstrate traditional farming techniques. The first two horses Colony Zebedee and Colony Zulu arrived from Hollesley Bay in Suffolk that same year. Both were two years old and 17 hands high and weighed a ton each and after training were soon working the land, ploughing, harrowing and harvest with a Reaper/Binder. Zulu unfortunately died young at the age of 13 whilst Zebedee died in 2007 aged 16.

The third horse to arrive at the farm was Golden Queen Guinevere. ‘Queenie’ as she was affectionately called came to the farm in 2000, having worked on the ‘Holt Flyer’ a horse drawn carriage which ran between the North Norfolk Railway station and the town centre. Queenie was often voted the Best Mare at ploughing matches and according to Richard Dalton, the Farm Manager had a lovely temperament and was lovely to work although she could be a bit quirky at tomes she was always willing to do what was asked of her. It was Queenie along with Zebedee that starred in the ‘Victorian Spring Summer and Winter’ videos presented by Paul Heiney. Queenie died in November 2008 at the age of 17.

Stamford George became the fourth horse to work on the farm arriving in 2002. George was a good steady worker and was ideal for use with school and educational parties. While working at a job such as Muck Carting pulling a Tumbril, George would soon tell you that you had loaded enough by walking off. George died on 22 February 2009 aged 16.

The next two horses Trojan and Milden Bowler both arrived in 2002. Trojan was at Stone Tree Farm, Hadleigh in Suffolk and is unusual in that he does not have a prefix to his name. This was because the original owners could not be certain which stallion was his sire. Trojan was the horse for cart work, being responsive to commands and very good at manoeuvring in tight spaces. Today at 20 years old he has semi-retired although he still does the occasional cart work.

Reggie the Suffolk Punch at Gressenhall Farm. Picture: Sarah DarnellReggie the Suffolk Punch at Gressenhall Farm. Picture: Sarah Darnell

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Milden Bowler came from Lower farm Milden Suffolk. Always willing to work he has however never learnt to walk, doing everything at top speed. At 19 years old he is still working and is as fast as ever.

Nedgling Casper came to the farm in 2010 from Steve Jones an expatriate Norfolk farmer living in Cambeltown, Scotland. Unfortunately Casper was not with the farm for long dying in 2012 at the age of 9.

Colony Reginald ‘Reggie’ also came from Steve Jones having been born at Hollesley Bay. Reggie is a very tall Suffolk being 17 hands 3 inches high. His main quirk is that after a hot day when he is given a wash down with a hose he will tend to dance and prance around.

The Suffolk Punch horses have a strong physique Picture: Sarah DarnellThe Suffolk Punch horses have a strong physique Picture: Sarah Darnell

Horning St James ‘Jimbo’ came to the farm in 2008. Currently 14 years old although he often acts as if he were still two. On a number of occasions he has managed to get away from his groom and on one occasion took a trip into the village before he could be caught.

Shotley Field Remus was born in Northumberland and came to the farm in 2018, at 17 Hands 3 inches high is as tall as Reggie making the two horses a matched pair. Remus is on loan to the farm from Fiona Clarke at Nyland in Suffolk. Remus is reluctant to raise his feet up when you are attempting to pick his hooves, which at one ton can mean hard work.

The latest horse to join the farm team is Colony Casper who arrived from Hollesley Bay on 3 April 2019. Casper is currently under training to become a full working horse. Like all of the Gressenhall Suffolk’s he was purchased by the Friends of the Museum for the farm.

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse is now open to visitors, daily from 10am – 4pm. Our Suffolk Punch horses cannot wait to say hello (or neigh!). Pre booked tickets are essential, please visit the Gressenhall website for more information.


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