30 Things to Try at Home

You can try them in any order

We hope you will enjoy our Palace House: 30 Things To Try at Home. The activities are based on our collections but you don’t need to have visited before. You don’t need any knowledge of horses, racing, history or art either. Anyone can join in: young or old, together or alone. You can adapt them to suit. 

Download our printable PDF

Activity 1 - 15 Activity 16 - 30

Graham Snelling, Curator

1. Tall Tales

Did you know that we have a library full of books about racing?

We also have books on display including a copy of The Anatomy of a Horse by George Stubbs. Create your own tall tale. You can write it down or make up a story with other people, taking it in turns to add the next little bit. If you need ideas, here are a couple of starter lines for you:

“The King was expected at any moment. If only someone could remember where they had put it!”·

“There was something unusual about the museum that afternoon.” 

Send your story to info@palacehousenewmarket.co.uk for it to be added to our storybook that will go on display in the atrium. 

2. Conservator at Work

Our conservator has the important task of looking after our collections.

Sometimes this might include restoring objects. Any restoration work should be visible at 6 inches (15cm) away but invisible at 6 feet (2m) away. Could you rise to that challenge?

Select a picture from a magazine or newspaper. Cut out a section of it into a small rectangle - you could try 5cm x 4cm- and stick this to the middle of a piece of plain paper.

Mix paints or pencils to continue the image outwards. You can use your imagination if you like to create something new around your rectangle.

3. Art or Science?

George Stubbs (1724-1806) was an anatomist and artist. You can see examples of his work at Palace House.

He studied the bodies of animals and humans to find out how they worked and produced detailed sketches and diagrams. This informed medicine of the time and enabled him to draw life-like paintings.

George Stubbs believed that nature is always superior to art. Do you agree? Look for something amazing in nature around you. Draw it, paint it or photograph it.

4. Dress to Impress 

One flamboyant character you might have seen at the races in the first half of the 20th century was Prince Monolulu.

He would wear exotic looking outfits finished off with an ostrich feather headdress. He would call out “I’ve gotta horse!” and would give tips on which one he thought would win the race. He wasn’t really a prince at all. His real name was Peter Carl MacKay and he came from the British Virgin Islands

Raid your wardrobe to create an outfit to wear at the races. It could be elegant and stylish or absolutely outrageous! You could even choose outfits for other people who are with you.

Be creative and use whatever you have around your home!

Be sure to take a photograph of your creation! 

5. Beetle

Certain insects can cause damage to objects in museums and in our homes.

Moths, beetles and various insect larvae can all cause damage so our curators and conservators keep a close eye on conditions at Palace House.

A few pests might be normal but if there are suddenly lots, it’s time to investigate and prevent an infestation. Find out more

Have you ever played Beetle? Play now! 

6. Mini Museum

Our collections are full of fascinating objects. Our curators plan how to display them and to explain their stories.

Choose an object which is important to you. Write down or tell someone about it. Remember to include facts (What is it? What’s it for? What’s it made from? When and where did you get it?) and the reason it’s important, how it makes you feel and the memories associated with it.

Create a mini-museum using objects from your home. You could choose a theme and display them together- think about heights and groupings. You could even make labels or a guidebook or even put everything in a shoebox to make a museum in a shoebox. Remember to think of a catchy title for your museum or exhibition

7. Silks

We work closely with Racing To School, Newmarket Racecourses, The Jockey Club and Godolphin to deliver two of our largest education projects each year.

In this photograph, you can see children taking part in the “Godolphin Under Starter’s Orders” education project. They are all wearing silks. These are an iconic feature of racing but there are strict rules about colour and pattern. Have a go at designing your own

There is a great interactive game about the silks on the Racing To School website. Click on the cards to turn them over. How far up the leaderboard can you climb?

Did you know we have the oldest Grand National silks on display in our gallery? Find out more

8. Derby Day

There is lots going on in our copy of The Derby Day by William Powell Frith (1819-1909).

Frith was a friend of Charles Dickens and the characters in this painting would certainly add up to a good story. All sorts of people have gathered at Epsom Downs for the classic Derby race.

You can see a con man playing “Find The Lady” with balls under a cup (left foreground), acrobats (centre) and wealthier people in their finery eating a lobster as part of their picnic. View the original painting

Have fun making your own picnic to eat outside or indoors. If you have enough ingredients, you could bake something for the occasion.

Remember to take a photo to record your picnic for posterity!

9. Colour Collecting

The Packard Galleries of British Sporting Art at Palace House contain fine examples of paintings by renowned artist, Sir Alfred Munnings (1878-1959).

Munnings visited Newmarket often and made sketches and notes using whatever came to hand. He was skilled in using colour to great effect and if you look at the horses in the study for “The Start, October Meeting, Newmarket” you will see flecks of green, pink and orange which create the impression of the horses’ shining coats.

Collect some colours. Choose a colour and find things around your home which are that colour.

Put them all together.

How many different shades can you find?

Try giving each shade its own special name e.g. “Rainy picnic green!”

Find out more about The Packard Galleries of British Sporting Art

10. Same but Different

What does the word “trophy” conjure up in your mind?

Different people will think of different things. Variations within objects might reflect the purpose, cost, use, availability of materials, wealth or status of the owner...there are all sorts of explanations.

Find two things in your home which are the same but different e.g. two spoons, two shoes, two plants. Notice how they are alike and how they differ. What are the reasons for the differences?

Draw or photograph your objects in a way that shows you have observed them very carefully.

11. A Weighty Matter

In our Maktoum Gallery of the Thoroughbred, you will find scientific information about racehorses including Hyperion’s skeleton and weighted models of human and equine hearts.

Did you know that an average adult human heart weighs about 250g and a racehorse’s heart usually weighs about 5Kg? Compile a conversion chart explaining each of these in real terms. You can make it as serious or as frivolous as you like! e.g.

Human heart= 2 bars of my favourite chocolate/ 6 spoons from the kitchen drawer/ 8 rolls of sticky tape

Racehorse heart= My Mum’s heavy handbag twice over/ 4 houseplants etc.

12. A Room With A View

At some point in the past, part of Charles II’s Newmarket Palace was extended.

A beautiful sash window was bricked up and forgotten about. In the 1990s, builders accidentally uncovered it again and it is now thought to be the oldest counter-weighted sash window in the United Kingdom. Maybe Charles II himself gazed through its panes.

Choose a window where you are. Look through it for a couple of minutes and notice as much as you can about what you see and hear. How does it make you feel?

Now move away from your view and draw or write from memory, recreating the scene outside.

How much can you remember?

13. Royal Connections

James I, Charles I and Charles II all spent time in Newmarket where they enjoyed various pastimes including racing.

Our Heritage Centre encompasses the remaining part of Charles II’s Newmarket palace and royal connections have continued through the centuries. Our present Queen is a great enthusiast of racing and is the patron of our charity. She also opened our Heritage Centre in 2016. See more photos of that special day

You can see objects from the Royal Collection Trust, which are on display in your area by following this link and entering your postcode in the box on the left: https://bit.ly/2vSeHPC

Learn more about the history of our site

14. Mystery Object

Can you work out what this object is from the photograph taken from an unusual angle?

You can find it inside the Palace and it dates from the time of Charles II. It would have “shed light” on things!

Find an everyday object and photograph it or draw it from an unusual angle or in close- up detail. Challenge other people to identify it.

15. Act of Giving

We have lots of wonderful volunteers who kindly donate their time to help with the smooth running of Palace House and with the careful preservation of our collections.

They carry out a range of tasks from greeting visitors, cleaning and cataloguing objects, helping with the horses, gardening and supporting learning groups. We are truly grateful for the time they give.

Can you give some of your time to someone who needs it? It could be a small act of giving such as saying “Hello,” texting, making a cup of tea or helping with the washing up...or it could be a bigger act such as mowing the lawn, making something for them or doing their shopping.

Whatever you can give, it will be appreciated...and you will feel better too.

16. My Home is My Palace

Nowadays, we think of a palace as being one large building, but when Charles II built his palace in Newmarket, it would have consisted of many smaller buildings with one much grander one at the heart.

What would your palace look like? Design your dream. You could draw it, make floor plans, make a model or write about it. Let your imagination run wild!

17. Film 

Did you know we have three attractions in one place? Watch our 2-minute video to find out more!

Enjoy our film and then choose a film or documentary of your own to watch. There are lots to choose from online, on DVDs, the internet and television.

18. Time For A Treat

We all like a treat. Red Rum’s favourite treats were Polo mints.

Red Rum (1965-1995) was a champion steeplechaser (races with jumps) who won The Grand National three times- in 1973, 1974 and 1977.

This achievement had never been matched before or beaten since. You can see one of his distinctive sheepskin nosebands in our galleries.

How do you like to treat yourself? A cup of tea? An hour with a book? A bubble bath? Treat yourself today...or plan a treat very soon.

19. Sort It Out

With so many wonderful objects in our collections and archive, it’s important to look after them well.

Our curatorial team and volunteers are used to sorting, keeping records and storing things safely where they can be easily located.

Choose one box, cupboard or drawer and sort it out! Who knows- you might get carried away and do more.

Even if you can only manage a little bit of sorting, it will be a good start!

20. Hands

Did you know that horses are measured in hands? A hand is 4 inches (10cm) and refers to a hand width i.e. with your fingers together, parallel to the ground.

The measurement is taken from the ground to the top of the withers (the highest point on their shoulder). Racehorses are usually 15.2-17hh (hands high).

Draw around your hand and decorate it in any way you choose- patterns, small scenes, words. Take your time and create a miniature work of art.

21. Circles

The retired racehorses who stay at Palace House are being trained for new jobs by the Retraining of Racehorses charity.

The horses love meeting our visitors and have a wonderful time exercising. Sometimes they use the circular horse walker. This is an automatic way of giving them a gentle walk. It’s a bit like a horizontal wheel which moves around at the correct pace. It’s divided into sections so that several horses can take a “circular walk” together!

How many circles can you spot around you? Make a list, draw or photograph them. Remember, they could be lurking in unexpected places!

22. Guided Tour

There are lots of things to see and do at Palace House. We have museum collections, an art gallery, live horses, interactives and our famous racehorse simulator.

If you’re lucky, you might even get to see a horse being shod by the farrier during one of our Behind The Scenes Tours.

Imagine that your home, your room or your garden is open to visitors. Create and deliver a guided tour.

Remember to include the history, important features, memories and anecdotes. It can be as light-hearted or as serious as you like.

23. Relax

We all need to take time out and relax- even the horses in the Rothschild Yard.

Sometimes they stay with us for a short holiday from their re-training programme and are looked after by our expert yard staff and volunteers.

Relax with this exercise. Sit comfortably and think of:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can hear
  • 3 things you can feel
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

Now close your eyes and repeat this exercise but this time, imagine that you are one of the horses looking out of its stable. Take your time.

24. Conversation Pieces

Looking at things closely often reveals surprising and intriguing details.

Our Packard Galleries of British Sporting Art is home to many important works such as this engraved print of Water Dogs by Ben Marshall (1768-1835). This painting is part of our next exhibition - 'The Good Companions: The Many Roles of our Canine Friends'.

Select two characters from within the image.

They could be living things or even inanimate objects- look carefully at the whole image and use your imagination! Makeup and perform a short conversation between those characters. If you are doing this with someone else, you can each play one character.

How are they feeling? What are they up to? You can make it as serious or as funny as you like.

25. If Music Be The Food Of Love...

When Charles II was staying at his Newmarket palace, there would have been much feasting and merriment.

The town would have been a lively and bustling place. It would have been a fashionable place to be. The King also continued his royal duties at the palace, including meeting with foreign ambassadors and bestowing knighthoods there.

Choose a piece of music for Charles II to listen to in his Newmarket palace. You could even suggest a modern playlist for one of his parties. Remember to listen to your selections and to enjoy them while you choose.

26. Street Names

Many of the street names in Newmarket have racing connections.

One such road is Rous Road, named after Admiral Henry John Rous (1795-1877). Rous became a member of The Jockey Club and was responsible for tightening many of the rules of racing including the weighted handicapping system. He became a national hero when as a sea captain, he sailed his ship to safety without a rudder and taking on water after she had been badly damaged. Whenever he was ashore, he was keenly involved in racing.

The impressive candelabrum on display at Palace House was presented to him by members of The Jockey Club.

Investigate the street names where you live. Local history websites are often a good source of information.

27. The Naming of Horses

One of our favourite horse names which you will find at Palace House is “Pot8os.”

You can see his skeleton in the King’s Yard galleries. Pot8os (1773-1800) had a groom who was not very good at reading and writing. He was told to write the name of the horse (“Potatoes”) on the stable door. He did his best and wrote “Pot oooooooo.” This was then shortened to “Pot8os.” Find out more

Create your own horse names using the template below which was create by performance poet, Justin Coe, as part of our literacy project with All Saints’ CE Primary School. It’s fun for all ages.

Check the availability of your horse names

Why not use their names for an imaginary race commentary?

28. Flex Your Muscles

One of our learning partners is Newmarket Academy, whose students visit us for various projects.

One of our favourites is the Sports Science workshop in which students learn about nutrition, respiration and fitness in human and equine athletes. A highlight is riding our racehorse simulator. 

It’s not as easy as it looks. You need great balance, stamina, strength and fitness.

Challenge 1: can you name all the muscles on the diagram below, kindly shared by Newmarket Academy?

Challenge 2: set yourself a fitness task to do for 7 days. It can be something small or, if you are fit enough, something more ambitious. Keep active!

29. The Horse In Norse

The poem below is an example of a Kenning created by poet Justin Coe and a Year 4 group, inspired by the horses they met at Palace House.

Why not have a go?

The word Kenning is derived from an old Norse phrase which means “To express a thing in terms of another.” Kenning poems are usually made up of a series of two-word phrases, separated by a hyphen. Sometimes they can be two nouns or a noun and a verb.


If you would like ideas on writing more poems, see our Poetry Passport

(The illustration is “Fighting Stallions” by George Stubbs which can be seen in our Packard Galleries of Sporting Art.)

30. Inspired....?

We hope we have inspired you with our 30 Things To Try At Home.

Here is space and time for you to create or share something which has been inspired by taking part. It might be a work of art, a song, a discussion, a letter, a cake...anything.

We hope you will come and visit us at Palace House soon!