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About Us

The All England Jumping Course, Hickstead, was the dream and brain child of just one man... Douglas Bunn. Now run by his family, the showground remains one of the premier equestrian venues in the world, and strives not only to maintain this level of excellence but diversify into the future.

In 2010, The All England Jumping Course celebrated its 50th anniversary as the home of international show jumping in Great Britain and has undergone over £1million worth of refurbishment works recently.

The famous arena having once been described by legendary American showjumping Chef D'Equipe George Morris as a "magic carpet", almost every great show jumper, horse and rider, since 1960 has competed at Hickstead.

We have hosted:
  • The Junior European Championships 1961
  • The Ladies' European Championships 1963
  • The Ladies' World Championships 1965
  • The Men's European Championships 1969
  • The Junior European Championships 1971
  • The Men's European Championships 1973
  • The World Championships 1974
  • The European Championships 1983
  • The European Championships 1999
  • The FEI Nations Cup™ of Great Britain since 1971
Since 1971, Hickstead has hosted the FEI Nations Cup™ of Great Britain.  Now incorporated into the Longines Royal International Horse Show, it sees the top eight countries in the world compete for the greatest inter-nation showjumping prize.

Over the years the Showground has expanded. Today, there are six arenas, permanent seating for over 5,000 spectators, 26 corporate hospitality suites, and conferencing and entertainment facilities for up to 250. In 1996, another Olympic equestrian discipline was introduced with the founding of Dressage at Hickstead, and as further proof of our unfaltering pursuit of excellence, the European Dressage Championships were awarded only seven years later. Polo was next to receive the Hickstead treatment and in 2006 we opened the All England Polo Club.

 

DB Smoking Room.jpg

Douglas Bunn, who died in 2009, left an enduring legacy to his beloved sport of showjumping. A leap year baby, Douglas was born at Selsey Bill, West Sussex, on 29th February 1928. He shared his father's passion for horses and maintained his hobby even while qualifying for the bar. In fact it was not unknown for Douglas to appear in court with his breeches under his gown.

By 1959, Douglas understood the pressing need for facilities in Britain that could match those found abroad in Europe and the United States. His intention was 'to put on the best showjumping possible anywhere in the world', and thus the All England Jumping Course, Hickstead, was born.

With characteristic determination and flair, Douglas certainly achieved what he set out to do all those years ago, and in 2010 Hickstead celebrated its 50th anniversary. And what years they were, having seen a small field in the heart of rural Sussex transformed into one of the world's leading equestrian venues. Among the highlights Hickstead has played host to a multitude of World and European Championships and no one was more delighted than Douglas himself when, in 2008, Hickstead won the right to continue hosting the only Nations Cup competition in Britain.

 

The Master of Hickstead, as he was fondly known, was also a master of invention. He not only created the now popular sport of team-chasing, but also such crowd pleasers as the Eventing Grand Prix, the only competition in the world where showjumpers and eventers are pitted against each other.

 

No one has summed him up better than his friend Michael Clayton, past editor of Horse and Hound:

 

"Douglas was undoubtedly the greatest innovator in British showjumping in the post-war years. He succeeded in creating his personal vision virtually on his doorstep at Hickstead - and he made the horse world come to him in his native Sussex.

 

Douglas had flair as well as originality in making horse sports fun for the spectator as well as offering a new challenge to the competitor. He relished controversy, and was never afraid to break new ground; his contribution was unique. Above all he was a true horseman, and loved the challenge of cross-country riding in the hunting field as much as the disciplines of showjumping."

 

Despite his worldwide fame, Douglas was happiest at home in Sussex, with his children and grandchildren, who carry his dream into the future. He will be greatly missed.

To read more about Douglas Bunn, please click on the links below:

 

The Telegraph

 

The Times

 

The Guardian

 

The Independent

 

Whilst Douglas Bunn's  six youngest offspring are very involved as Directors, Edward and Lizzie run the showground, with the rest combining their roles at Hickstead with their other careers.

 

John is Managing Director of the family's other business Bunn Leisure and Chloe (herself a former British international showjumper) is based at Hickstead with her husband Irish international showjumper Shane Breen, who together run their business Breen Equestrian from Hickstead. Daisy combines her Hickstead duties with her own photography business Honeybunn Photography and Charlie his with being an actor.

 

Douglas' eldest three daughters Claudia, Lavinia and Theresa have also taken a keen interest in Hickstead, with their love of horses having played a very active role in their lives, and whilst some of his grandchildren are keen riders, his granddaughter Lucy is herself a very accomplished international showjumper, riding for William and Pippa Funnell at the Billy Stud

 

Whilst maintaining Hickstead's status as one of the leading equestrian venues in the world, the Bunns have begun a programme of refurbishments and diversification in order to modernise Hickstead, and ensure it remains economically secure. Here are their unique perspectives on Hickstead and the exciting future:

Edward

 

"Our biggest challenge is the Great British weather but modern technology and soil science have meant that with the recent, very successful refurbishment of the ring, we have created a turf arena that will cope with not only the demands of our horse shows but also a far wider range of concerts and events.

 

I started working full time at Hickstead in 1983, and over 30 years later I am still here! My wife Julia and I, and our four children live here at Hickstead, so it is in every sense my home."

Lizzie

 

"Many people think we shut down over the winter and re-open a few weeks before the first shows. In fact, keeping Hickstead going is a full-time job - a bit like painting the Forth Bridge. As soon as one season ends, we start planning the next one.

 

Dad put millions into Hickstead because he was passionate about horses. Now his financial input is gone, we have to find ways to continue his legacy into the future. In recent years we have diversified and it is my dream that the showground will continue to flourish so that in a few years my two girls, Ellie and Georgia, and the next generation can take over the reins."

John

 

"If we wanted pocket money we had to work during our school holidays, mowing the grass or painting fences. This approach taught me the value of money from an early age, and Dad's passion for the sport combined with his keen business acumen really helped us all understand how to run a successful business. We have tried to recreate, on a smaller scale, his success with our All England Polo Club, and we look forward to diversifying further in the future with all kinds of new and innovative events.

Chloe

 

"Running Breen Equestrian from Hickstead, and as this is the ultimate family business, my whole life revolves around Hickstead. My siblings always considered it rather helpful having a rider 'on the circuit' to lend a valuable rider's view to the running of the business. We are all very excited about the future and look forward to continuing to attract world class equestrian events amongst other things."

Daisy

 

"Dad was a master innovator and it was his constant encouragement to think creatively and move with the times that has helped us understand the unique needs of sponsors and the commercial possibilities open to Hickstead. The future, and the inevitable challenges it will bring, is a daunting prospect, but I believe that in the motley crew Dad has taught and entrusted to take the business on, we possess such a wide variety of interests and skills, and above all a shared sense of steely determination, that we will succeed, no matter what."

Charlie

 

'Hickstead has and will always be a central part of my life, and I feel it is the extraordinary individuals we are so lucky to have working with us, that give Hickstead the wonderful atmosphere that so many people enjoy. When I think of the future of Hickstead, I get an enormous feeling of excitement for the challenges that lie ahead of us as a family."