Save Chawton Shires. Restore Heavy Horses to Chawton House Estate.

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In 2017 the Trustees of Chawton House (CH) charity decided to close the Estate's stables, make the staff redundant and evict their four iconic Shire Horses (Royston; Speedy; Isaac & Summer). The charity’s rationale being that the horses "were not economically viable & not very robust." Having made their decision the Trustees acted clandestinely, treated the local village community with disdain and made no public statement until the news was disclosed via a social media backlash. At no time did CH consider alternatives to ridding the Estate of horses or appeal for financial support to retain them. Knowing that CH was suffering a self-declared funding crisis our group made two offers of financial support, the first of £10,000 to retain the horses for three months while longer-term funding was put in place, the second offered to replace the horses at our total expense and provide CH with an income stream from facilities rental. Both generous offers were rejected. Clearly, the reason for evicting the horses had nothing to do with money.

We ask that you sign this petition to restore Shire Horses to an Estate which is supposed to represent a working 18th century English farm. This Estate was once owned by Jane Austen's brother and she was a frequent visitor as her own house is located in the village. The Charity's Trustees have violated one of their guiding principles in disposing of their horses. Shires were the tractors and combine harvesters of 18th agriculture. In early February 2018 the gravity of the Trustees decision became tragically apparent when Speedy, an adorable 15-year-old Clydesdale was euthanised subsequent to CH’s enforced 're-homing'.

In memory of Speedy's avoidable death, we appeal to you not to donate to the charity’s fund-raising appeals and to boycott Chawton House as a tourist destination until the Trustees reverse their lamentable decision and restore Heavy Horses to their rightful domain.

Thank you on behalf of CH's (surviving) former Shires.