What happens at the Badminton Horse Trials?

The Duke of Beaufort hosted the 70th Badminton Horse trials at his beautiful estate in Gloucestershire in 2019.

The event attracts the elite of the equestrian world and tens of thousands of visitors each year. It launches on Wednesday with the International horse inspection and the amateur cross country finale. The event continues with Dressage on the Thursday and Friday before the thrills and spills of the Cross Country phase on the Saturday. Sunday is the culmination of the competition and is a Show Jumping test over knock down arena jumps.

The weekend events certainly attract the most visitors, who also make the most of the fabulous shopping opportunities at the many retail outlets and the wonderful variety of eating and drinking choices.

Our royal family don’t just turn up to watch the worlds premier 3-day event, both the Princess Royal and her daughter, Zara Tindell, have both competed at Badminton as part of their incredibly impressive equestrian careers. The Badminton Estate has a strong royal heritage and many Kings and Queens have visited Badminton over the centuries. Charles II stayed in the house, as did William of Orange on his return from the Battle of the Boyne. Our Queen’s grandmother, Queen Mary the wife of George V, stayed at Badminton for much of World War II, as a guest of her niece, the Duchess of Beaufort.

“Madmintune” is the recorded name of the estate in the Domesday Book, and was first purchased by the Somerset family in 1612. The Somersets, descended from John of Gaunt, were granted the dukedom of Beaufort by Charles II in 1682 in reward for his service to the Royalists in the Civil War. The first Duke and Duchess carried out extensive works on the house, gardens and grounds, many of which can still be seen today.

The Badminton Estate can boast of another rather wonderful sporting connection. The origins of the sport of badminton are understood to date back to the games of battledore and shuttlecock played in ancient civilisations in Europe and Asia. It is thought that army officers in 1873 played a derivative of these earlier games at Badminton House, and perhaps this is how the sport became commonly referred to as badminton. The Entrance Hall reflects the dimensions of a modern Badminton Court, although one is not encouraged to try it for size.