Hampton was famous for horses. For almost two hundred years, horses and equestrian activities played a major role on the Hampton estate. In the 1740s, Colonel Charles Ridgely served as a member of the newly founded Maryland Jockey Club and passed on his love of horses to his son. The Ridgely family began to breed and racehorses in the late 1700s, before the mansion was built.
The racing and breeding of Thoroughbred horses reached its height at Hampton under Governor Charles Carnan Ridgely. In 1805, he had constructed the first stone stable for his racehorses and laid out a racecourse on his property.
The close affinity of the Ridgelys to their horses can be summed up with the following excerpt from a memoir describing John Ridgely’s death in 1867: “Only one or two days before his death, he caused his favorite riding horse, Satin, to be brought up to the house and gazing from the dining room window he admired his glossy shining coat and said ‘Ah old fellow, I am afraid I shall never ride you again,” and sadly ordered him to be taken back to the stable.
Last updated: June 13, 2020