Stained glass depiction of King Richard and his legendary horse, White Surrey.
As we now know sadly, Richard, did not own a horse called White Surrey or, as he has sometimes been called, White Syrie (1). But Richard did own horses aplenty and we are fortunate lists of these horses have survived – see below (2). What I know of horses you could put on a postage stamp but the late John Ashdown-Hill explains in his book ‘The Mythology of Richard III‘ that liard or lyard are grey horses which could be described as white. So therefore it can clearly be seen that Richard did have grey horses which could appear white. If one of these horses was not called White Syrie – well – he should have been! John goes on to explain it was once believed ‘that a horse called White Syrie was actually listed in a 15th century manuscript’ – see below – ‘however this proved to be a misreading. There is therefore no 15th century surviving evidence of the name of the horse that Richard rode in his last battle (3)’
THE NAMES OF HORSE BEING AT GRISSE IN HAVERING PARC
First Liard – trotting
Liard Clervax of Croft – ambling
The Whit – ambling
Baiard Babingtone – ambling
Liard Strangwisse – Ambling
Baiard Rither – Ambling
Liard Cultone – trotting
The litille Whit of Knaresburghe – ambling
My ladies grey gelding (name unknown) – Ambling
Liard Carlile – trotting
Liard Norffolk – Ambling
THE NAMES OF HORSES BEING AT GRISSE IN HOLDERNESSE
Liard Mountfort – ambling
THE NAMES OF HORSES BEING AT HARDMET AT NOTTINGHAM
Liard Danby – Ambling
Liard hoton – Ambling
The gret grey that came from Gervaux -ambling
Baiard Culton – trotting
Blak Morelle – Trotting
The Whit of Gervaux – Ambling for my lady
The Walssh (hoby) nag – for my lady ambling
Liard Bradshare – ambling
The gret Bay Gelding of Gervaux ……. (John Ashdown-Hill suggests this horse is a candidate for the very horse Richard rode into battle being stabled at Hardmet (Harmet) in Nottingham)
The Blak of Holderness – trotting
Alas no White Surrey or Whyte Syrie – it’s a great shame that the name of Richard’s horse he rode into battle that day is lost to us for, without a doubt, he would have been magnificent and as such surely deserves recognition.
Armour for man and horse circa 1480. Wallace Collection..
1.White Surrey Peter W Hammond. Article in Richard III Crown and People p285
2. British Library Harelean Manuscript p.4.5 Vol 1. Ed by Horrox and Hammond.
3. The Mythology of Richard III p117.118 John Ashdown-Hill.