Match for a prince or princess: making rocking horses for royals


BETHERSDEN, England (Reuters) – In a workshop in southeast England a restorer fastidiously removes the saddle of an outdated rocking horse, making ready it for restore. Upstairs, hammer in hand, a finisher drives nails right into a saddle blanket on a newly carved, stained and polished wood mannequin.

The rocking horses are amongst dozens being labored on or on show at Stevenson Brothers, a British enterprise devoted to the handcraft of the standard toy it has offered to royal households in Europe and the Center East.Twins Marc and Tony Stevenson have been making the bespoke replicas for 37 years, together with fashions for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, a longtime horse and racing fanatic.

“We’re very fortunate that every one our work is appreciated by royal households everywhere in the world,” co-owner Marc Stevenson stated.

“We’ve received horses out within the Center East, within the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and Qatar… and a few of the European royal households as nicely, and we have been fortunate sufficient to have a couple of in our personal royal household right here (in Britain).”

These embody a number of offered to the British monarch: a duplicate of her favourite coloured horse “Tinkerbell”, a dapple grey for her 2002 Golden Jubilee and a black oak horse for her 2012 Diamond Jubilee.

Based mostly within the village of Bethersden in Kent, the agency makes about 170-180 rocking horses a yr, with costs beginning at 1,000 kilos ($1,314) for a miniature mannequin. Stevenson stated restricted version items just like the Diamond Jubilee horse price 10,000 kilos plus worth added tax.


Amongst its catalog of works are reproductions of designs by 19th century rocking horse maker F.H. Ayres, and fashions made with oak, tulip wooden and chestnut creations. The corporate makes use of predominantly English laborious woods and English leather-based.

“It was by no means going to be a low value merchandise,” Stevenson stated citing supplies used, which additionally embody actual horse hair.

“We make them in Britain on this workshop, it’s British craftsmanship that we’re paying for.”

The horses take three months to make and requests have included life-size fashions in addition to a rocking tiger. Along with Fernandes Beautiful Creations, Stevenson Brothers additionally made a zebra encrusted with greater than 80,000 Svarovski crystals, a mannequin value 129,000 kilos.

“There is no such thing as a age restrict on the rocking horse, folks purchase them for infants that aren’t even born but they usually purchase them for 80, 90-year-old girls and gents as nicely,” Stevenson stated.

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“There’s one thing about horses that’s innate in us… They have been our mode of transport, they have been our methodology of farming. Rocking horses have been made to show youngsters to trip.”

With Prince Harry and his spouse Meghan Markle anticipating their first baby this spring, may the royal offspring someday trip such a rocking horse?

“We’d prefer to assume the royal youngsters might be given a rocking horse in fact,” Stevenson stated. “Who is aware of, it would simply occur that we get a fee for the newest child.”

Reporting by Jayson Mansaray; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Enhancing by Gareth Jones