Newmarket is a town well known for being the home of horseracing, but did you know that the town also played a role in one of history’s greatest romances?

Eleanor, who more commonly went by Nell, was known for her witty and comedic side, which with her good looks and effervescent personality won her a role on stage. Charles II first spied Nell, whilst she was sat in a neighbouring box at a performance of ‘She Wou’d if She Cou’d’, which after he invited her and her escort to supper along side his brother, the future James II.

Nell and Charles’ love story blossomed out of London and into Newmarket, where the King resided throughout the summer. Here he purchased the Earl of Thomond’s house and the neighbouring Greyhound Inn, to have them transformed into a sporting palace. Here he also installed a house next door for Nell to occupy.

Did you know her property still exists today? Since her residence, the property has been divided into two dwellings, now known as Nell Gwynne’s House and Nell Gwynne’s Cottage, which you’ll find situated just a few yards away from the entrance to the National Horseracing museum!

Charles was well known for his love of horses, and Nell her love of gambling. Both enjoying their visits to the races, with the locals regarding Nell as a delight.

King Charles passed in 1685, where on his deathbed he proved his regard for Nell. He wished not for the afterlife or his people, but for her, telling his brother ‘let not poor Nelly starve’.  These lasting words can also be found displayed on an artwork on Nell Gwynne Cottage.

To this day, Nell’s memory lives on here in Newmarket, in the shape of the Nell Gwyn Stakes that takes place at the Craven Meeting in April, at the Rowley Mile racecourse.

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