Jack Stannard - Tells of his Days Working the Suffolk Horse


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Jack Stannard tells of his days working the Suffolk Horse

Neil Bloomfield took me round to see Jack Stannard one cold November morning in 2003.  Jack had a fire ready lit for us in his little cottage with its well stocked garden.  Stocked not just with vegetables but herbs and plants for curing ailments.

‘Come in’ he said ‘and have a seat’.  As he sat down he began to unfold stories about his early life with horses.  Although a dry storyteller, once he got going Jack was full of information of how he had worked the Suffolk Horses for his governor, Robert Nesling of Bedfield.  He had been born nearby at Bedfeld Lodge Cottages on the 28th November 1917, and had started work at 14 for ten shillings a week.  Although this was over 70 years ago his mind was as bright as a button.

There is much tradition surrounding the Suffolk Horse and a lot that one hears about it now comes out of books.  Jack Stannard did not need to read a book about it – he was there, so this is first hand experience of working the horse, the horsemen’s beliefs, their cures, their secrets, the sweet oils they used and even the use of the frogs bone which many were reluctant to talk about.  All from experience in an age when the horse was a working essential.

Brought up in a large family where most sang, Jack started off with a song for us and finished similarly singing songs that he would entertain with, and still does, at local gatherings where old stagers meet.

This is not a DVD about ‘book knowledge’ as the old boys mockingly called it.  It is entirely Jack’s experience, his orality, the spoken word as passed down through generations and which determines our traditions and cultural identity.

Produced:  May 2004

Product Code: NLDVD3




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