Tessa Waugh meets Marc Stevenson of Stevenson Brothers rocking horses. Photographs by Richard Cannon.
‘I love to watch a child playing on a rocking horse and observe the moment their imagination takes flight,’ enthuses Marc Stevenson of Stevenson Brothers rocking horses.
Marc (right) and his twin brother, Tony (left), have been handcrafting rocking horses together at their workshop in Bethersden, Kent, since 1982, with their business partner, Sue Russell.
‘We set out to reignite the nation’s love for rocking horses and were inspired by our uncle, James Bosworthwick, a shipwright who made them in his spare time.’
The company employs eight specialist craftsmen, each with a specific job. ‘There is someone blocking up the horses, two people carving and another two sanding,’ Marc explains.
‘Steve Clift has been making the all-important heads, with their detailed mouth, teeth and eyes, for 20 years.
‘His brother, Matt, is chief finisher and has been with us for 32 years. The tack is made in-house by professional saddler Claire Smith.’
Most of the horses are made of oak, although chestnut, tulip wood and walnut are also used.
Each rocking horse is made to order, taking 10–12 weeks to complete, and can be customised to include anything from a family crest or plaque to racing colours or real horse hair – ‘many clients commission replicas of favourite horses,’ reveals Marc. The Queen has commissioned several for her family and the Highgrove estate has a grey rocking horse based on one The Prince of Wales played on as a child.
The brothers can be found at this year’s Game Fair at Ragley Hall, Warwickshire (July 27–29), and at Burghley Horse Trials, Lincolnshire (August 30–September 2), where anyone is welcome to sit on one of their amazingly lifelike creations and let their imagination take flight. 01233 820363; www.stevensonbros.com
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