The Watford Observer has teamed up with Watford Museum and its curator Sarah Priestley to take a journey back to the town’s past through items or places of historical significance.

Adayar was the 242nd winner of The Derby on Saturday, becoming the latest horse to follow in the Epsom hoofprints of the 41st item in our 'history of Watford in 50 objects' - Caractacus.

Sarah said: "One of the most famous Watford residents of all time, Caractacus was the unexpected winner of the 1862 Epsom Derby.

"Named after the Celtic warrior, he wasn’t expected to do well in the famous race which took place on June 4 that year. His prospects seemingly didn't improve when his intended jockey chose to ride another horse and the replacement was a 16-year-old stable hand!

"John Parsons became the youngest jockey to win a Derby, but they were nearly disqualified for being underweight in a particularly dramatic race that only took place after three false starts with the largest ever field of 34 horses.

"It was Caractacus’s last major race, and he was retired to stud and came to Watford to Holywell Farm in the early 1870s where his arrival was greeting with great fanfare.

"A festival was organised in his honour and this Victorian celebrity was a very popular addition to the town, inspiring this painting which was hung in the boardroom at Benskins Mansion and is now in a private collection.

"He then moved to Russia where he died in 1878."

For more information on Caractacus and the history of Holywell, visit