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New protection for 17th century racehorse ‘rubbing house’

A 17th century “rubbing house” at Salisbury racecourse is one of the historic sites across England to be given extra protection this year.

Historic England has listed the building, one of the few of its kind to survive in the country and at one of England’s oldest racecourses, at grade II.

Rubbing houses of this sort were once common, used to wash and dry off the horses after work, highlighting the level of care they enjoyed even centuries ago. This one was built between 1675 and 1706.

“Architecturally, the building is well-detailed and of high quality, emphasising just how important its role on the course was,” a spokesman for Historic England said.

“The functional elements of the building are still evident, such as the tall entrance, which would allow the horse and rider to go through the doorway, the tethering rings and the wide doorways designed to protect horses from injury.

“It was designed to wash, dry and rub down racehorses before and after races, a ritual that was believed to be very important at the time and shows how popular horse racing as a sport was during the period.”

Gardens, churches and a pub are also among the sites given listed status this year.

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Heritage minister Nigel Huddleston said: “I am delighted these important sites have been listed. These significant additions to the list span the whole country, from Nottingham to Kent, Andover to Cumbria, and include something for everyone to enjoy. I am grateful that, thanks to these listings, these heritage sites will continue to enrich our communities for generations to come.”

Historic England CEO Duncan Wilson added that the organisation works to protect the country’s most significant historical sites.

“Despite the challenges the heritage sector has faced this year, there have been many brilliant additions to the list. We want to ensure England’s rich and varied cultural heritage is protected so that the public can continue to cherish the heritage that makes their local places so important.”

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