top of page

Riding Academy
Project of establishing a riding school in England c.1620

While in France, equestrian academies developed progressively throughout the country in the 16th and 17th centuries, Great Britain did not have the same approach to transmit and develop horsemanship knowledge and was somewhat way behind the continent. However, the "noble will" to create the conditions of education and optimization of the attributes of civility are at the heart of tnew considerations. The present text, fairly unknown, was signed by several great names of the English nobility, shows the intentions, as well as the organization thought of, to create an equestrian academy as close as possible to Italian and French standards. Their ambition was probably motivated by the recent initiative of Antoine de Pluvinel, the king's riding instructor who, in 1594, was authorized to found an equestrian academy in Paris for the teaching of the nobility.


More about the history of equestrian academies in France at that time:

Corinne Doucet, " Les académies équestres et l'éducation de la noblesse (XVIe-XVIIIe siècle) ", Revue historique, 2003/4 (n° 628), p.817-836, Accessible here

Articles to be observed

in the erecting and ordaying of a present academy

They relate to a plan for establishing a riding-school, and are subscribed by Earl's of Arundell and Pembroke and several other noblemen in the time of James 1st.- 

BL.MS.846.f.120-124, “Miscellaneous papers XVI-XVIII cent.” [1603-1625]



1. That there be a sufficient number of worthy noblemen and gentlemen well chosen, that will have, in recommendation [the] honor of their country.

2. That after the choice bee made and the number full to 21 there be a day and place appointed by the Prince his Highness where the society shall meet, and that every one do bring with him a 100 French crownes, and there to enter into consultation how the best way be to erect and maintain an Academye.

3. That there be a place appointed [that] may always serve for the society to meet once a week to rectify all such errors as may arise which is to be ordered by most voices, and in case of difference that it be referred to his Highness censorship.

4. That it be considered when the whole society cannot meet, there be a certain number appointed that may resolve of the business for the good of the Academy (sic), and that as many as are in the town, shall be advertised the night before.

5. That there be chosen by the whole society a Treasurer out of that number, who shall give good security for all such money as shall be received by him on his deputy, and that he shall give a strict account for every penny that goes out , and that he shall lay out no money without order from the whole society or the Committees of the whole Academy.

6. That there be appointed smoothly a proueditor (?) who must have an entertainment to execute such business as he shall have order from the whole society or Committees of the Academy.

7. That there be a good choice made of an excellent Esquire and under rider, a Smith and a Sadler, a Mathematician and one that learned the languages, a fencer with his usher, a dancer and his usher, a waiterand a porter to keep the gates.

8.  That it be lawfull for every one of this Society to render 3 horses that shall be dressed*, either for the manage or for the ring, and some young rider to be taught: And for the more commodity it is fit that every one in his particular make provision for his horse meate ** (sic) but that all the horses stand in one stable the nearer the esquire both to oversee the gromes and horses.

9. That the entertainment be considered for every one of these [workers] according to his merit, as for the Smith, and Sadelar (sic) their entertainment will be but small besides their lodging and shopes to work in, for that they are to be paid by every one out of his particular purse as they shall have need of them; always provided that to this Academy none work but these that belong to it.

10. That the masters that belong into this Academy be bound to be found at the place of the Academy every morning at 6 of the clock until ii (sic) and from 2 of the clock in the after noon till 5, and especially when they are warned before, and that every man's horse shall be ridone (sic) not as the quality of the master, but as he comes first or last to the manage, and that none of them may learn any scholars that are not of the Academy without leave, but the pages that belong to those of the Academy, and that no nation be brought up in the Academy to be a professed rider but Scott and English whereby the Academy may be upheld hereafter [with or] without strangers.

11. And for the better maintenance of so noble a work as this is, that will be such an honor to our nation, there will be very few worthy men either spiritual or temporal that will not contribute to this worthy [?], whether they be able or not, to make use of the exercises which will serve for a storke [stock?] for the upholding of this Academy.

12. The place that must be built must consist of a cornered manage, of a stable for 60 horses; a place long enough to room at the ring and large enough to ride 2 or 3 young horses at ease, shops for a Smith and Sadelar, a room to sense, waite and dance in, lodgings for all that belong to the Academy as Master and Officers, and a place where the Society of the Academy may meet and seat in rounsell.


We, whose names are underwritten will with all convenient speed erect and set up a fair riding house with a fair court enclosed with a brickwall fit for an Academy; we will also build near advoining to this place a convenient dwelling house, for him that shall be entertained to have principal charge of this place, and we will allow him for his entertainment six hundred french crowns by year.



Arundell - Pembroke - Ro : Essex - Montgomery - Theo : Howard - Cranborne - Ro : Sussex - H. Howard - Bruce - Ed. Cecyll -F. Sackwill-John Harrington- RO. Rochester-Hadington- Tho: Somersett

Pluvinel France 1594.jpg
bottom of page