The Anchor Herd History
Francis William (Frank) Green an Eccentric Edwardian Industrialist (1861-1954) loved the south west moors and the clean air and freedom they provided. He purchased Old Ashway Farm and its moorland allotments of Ashway side and Varle Hill in the late 1920’s along with half of the Exmoor ponies which grazed there. He lived at Ashwick House and moved to Exmoor to live permanently in 1930, taking an active interest in running the Ashwick Estate. Twenty or so resident staff would provide for his every need and in return he provided entertainment for them and visitors who would be lavishly wined, dined and entertained in a miniature theatre known as the ‘Music’room which had beautifully painted wall hangings of royalty with whom he was friends.
In the early days he would travel with his staff by Rolls Royce from Yorkshire where his engineering business was booming. His horses would travel by train and hack up to the stable yard so he could follow hounds across the wild terrain.
The remaining half of the herd of ponies were owned by Sir Thomas Acland and his son Richard whose family had bred ponies on the Royal Forest since 1767. The ponies were identified by a distinctive Anchor brand, thought originally to denote Royal property, on their quarters and even in those days it was invaluable to provide identity to the ponies. Eventually Frank bought the remaining half of the herd and they grazed on Winsford Hill. Frank became great friends with the Westcott family from Draydon Farm, each would swop and borrow stallions to improve the ponies’ bloodlines.
The Second World War saw huge food shortages and one night the majority of the herd were stolen. Some ponies were traced as far as Cumbria but it presumed that the majority were slaughtered for the black market meat trade. About a dozen ponies escaped capture and Frank ordered that they were brought ‘in ground ‘to the safety of the farm till the end of the war. In 1947 Old Ashway was sold to Frank’s great nephew Simon Green, and Rosie (Diana Frances Green)Simons daughter took up the running of the herd when she married Ronnie Wallace in the 1960s.
Rosie employed Derek Sparks as farm manager in the early 1970s and he provided the Wallace family with over 40 years service ,helping milk cows, lamb, plant trees etc and importantly watch over and the Anchor herd who were thriving. Rosie would show them both ridden and inhand and even tried plaiting one of them to do ‘show pony ‘classes on! Rosie died in 2005 and her son David and wife Emma are now committed to guarding the rights and best interests of the Anchor herd. They are currently shown in the north and south of England in hand by the family ,with several coming out under saddle to contend at County shows and even (with new owners) qualifying for Horse of the Year show and Olympia – A couple of the Herd Stallions have actually been HOYS Exmoor Sire of the Year.
Miranda and Lawrence, their children have the same love of Exmoor that has been shown through the last 5 generations and Lawrence intends to be actively involved in the running of the estate and Anchor herd in the years to come.
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