Driving Coaching Bit

Driving Coaching Bit, large and powerful called ‘Willis’ Bit presented by the Duke of Wellington, Stratfield Saye House.

A large and powerful driving coaching bit, dubbed Willis, from the stables at the Stratfield Saye House. Featuring an intricate design made from metal, key features of this bit comprise of a mouthpiece and a hinge where the angle between the shanks and the cheeks affect the speed of communication.

A ‘bit’ refers to a device placed in the horse’s mouth as a part of the bridle which allows the rider to apply subtle pressure and cues as a means of communication and control. Bits must be used correctly to ensure the horse’s comfort and well-being.

This item, along with a single driving saddle, was presented by the 7th Duke of Wellington Gerald Wellesley to the Alton Museum, now the Curtis Museum, in 1946. The 7th Duke of Wellington, who was dubbed ‘The Iron Duchess’, earned his title in 1943 after his predecessor was killed during the Second World War. From 1949-1960 he served as the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire. He was also a trained architect who conducted the Georgian remodeling of Hinton Ampner, a Grade-II listed building eight miles east of Winchester. 

a blue circle with the National Lottery Heritage Fund Logo

This object was audited and researched as part of the National Lottery Heritage Funded Data Hunters and Story Gatherers project. 






A brown, rusted driving coaching bit photographed on white acid free tissue paper. Attached are two light brown paper tags and a sale bar with the accession number.