The War Horse of Preston

By Jane Micklethwait  At the bottom of the hill below Preston Hall, on a mound beneath some hawthorn bushes next to the stream, there is a gravestone belonging to a horse with a remarkable story behind him. That story dates back to 1912 when a horse was bought by the owner of Preston Hall, General Sir Alfred Codrington. He called the five year old horse “Lincoln” and for the next two years Lincoln became well known out hunting with the Cottesmore hounds, generally ridden by one of the General’s two elder sons, Geoffrey and William. In 1914, when war was declared, Geoffrey was due to be sent to France with the Leicestershire Yeomanry.

All over England horses were being collected to be sent out to France for the cavalry, and Geoffrey arranged for him to keep Lincoln as his own charge. The two, along with a groom fought in the battlefields in northern France but in 1917 Geoffrey was badly wounded and had to be sent back to England. His brother William took over Lincoln and they remained together until the end of the war. It’s against the odds for the horse to survive the whole war – indeed out of a million horses who went from Britain to France, only 62,000 returned. In 1918 Lincoln and his groom returned home by rail to Manton station in a special horse carriage attached to the train.

At Manton station Lincoln walked out on to the platform and across on to the road. He stood totally still for a minute or so. His groom left the reins loose over his neck, and without any prompting or need for directions, Lincoln walked back up the hill, past Wing Grange and back into his old stable at Preston Hall. For the next eight years Lincoln reverted to his old job as a hunter, well known among the members of the Cottesmore Hunt. In 1926 at the age of 19 Lincoln died and is buried in one of the grass fields where he grazed.