Part 5 in our occasional series of retrospective photographs from the past 300 years of Ascot history looks back at a reflection of society in the 1920s at Royal Ascot.
Today all kinds of people rub shoulders at Ascot – stars of sport and entertainment, from home and abroad, racing devotees mingle and novices, aristocracy, royalty, and ordinary men and women from diverse backgrounds. But at times over the course’s 300 year history, when mixing the sexes and different classes of society was unthinkable, the social divisions between men and women, rich and poor, were made very clear at the racecourse.
When the new Iron Stand opened in 1859, it was completely barred to women; divorced men could enter but were barred from the Royal Enclosure. The fashionable London clubs such as Whites, and the “smarter” regiments provided refreshment tents - but entry was naturally by invitation only.
In the 1850s and 1860s more trains were needed for guests and staff travelling to the increasing number of house parties hosted by the great and good during Royal Ascot week. But soon the well-to-do started choosing to travel apart from the crowds in their own carriages, which also acted as private grandstands once they reached the course.
In this picture from the 1920s, the lucky few in their private carriage are even further set apart from those below them in the crowd by their very different attire.