Galloper Jack and Warrior

Mottistone Manor on the Isle of Wight, seen from the churchyard

Perhaps you may have read the book ‘War Horse’ by Michael Morpurgo or seen the film of the same name that tells the tale of a brave steed and his human friend who survive the horrors of the First World War and are reunited. But did you know that Mottistone has links with a real-life war horse and the man who bred and raised him?

‘Galloper’ General Jack Seely

The noble steed in question, known as ‘Warrior’, was owned by John Edward Bernard Seely, 1st Baron Mottistone, also known as ‘Galloper’ Jack. Born in 1868, as a child Jack spent many holidays on the Isle of Wight where his family owned property including Mottistone Manor.

Enjoying many adventures as a young man, he sailed to the Antipodes, and also volunteered as a member of the local Brook lifeboat crew where he helped to save the crew of a French ship wrecked off the coast of the Isle of Wight in 1891. For his bravery he was awarded the “Medaille d’Honneur” by the French government.

Elected as an MP for the Island, he was friends with Winston Churchill but after the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Jack was sent to the western front. Here he was involved in some of the defining moments of the First World War and led one of the last cavalry charges in history at the Battle of Moreuil Wood, on his war horse Warrior in March 1918.

Mottistone Manor House and gardens
The sun shines on Mottistone Manor House and gardens
Mottistone Manor House and gardens

Warrior

Bred and raised in the fields of West Wight by General Jack, Warrior was sent to war along with his owner. It has been reported that 8 million horses and mules died throughout the war, yet brave Warrior survived some of the worst battles of the First World War including Ypres, the Somme and Passchendaele. As a result, he gained a reputation for bravery under fire and was adopted as his formation's mascot, as well as earning the nickname ‘the horse the Germans couldn’t kill’ from the Canadian cavalrymen he led.

Painting of General Jack Seely on his horse Warrior
A painting of General Jack Seely sat calmly on his horse, Warrior
Painting of General Jack Seely on his horse Warrior

Warrior survived the war and returned to the Island with Jack, living to the age of 33 and dying at Mottistone Manor in 1941. In September 2014, his bravery was rewarded when he was posthumously awarded an honorary PDSA Dickin Medal, often known as the Victoria Cross for animals.

The Seely family

General Jack was responsible for restoring Mottistone manor in 1926. He asked his son John Seely, an architect, and his business partner Paul Paget, to help. Together, Paget and Seely also collaborated on the interior of Eltham Palace and the post-war restoration of a number of bomb-damaged buildings, such as the London Charterhouse and the church of St John Clerkenwell. They worked on their designs in ‘The Shack’, a tiny home in miniature that today stands in the gardens at Mottistone. 

If you'd like to know more about Galloper Jack and Warrior, we have several books about them for sale in our shop at Mottistone.