Well said: phrases that owe their origin to falconry Hoodwinked
in 2002. Founded by surviving members of the Old Hawking Club—which was formed by a group of Norfolk landowners almost 100 years after the demise of the Confederate Hawks of Great Britain—the BFC has existed in some form since 1770. It now has about 1,400 members across 13 regions and is the oldest and largest falconry club in Europe. Species that were hunted during Elizabethan times, such as herons, bustards and skylarks, are no longer on the menu for contemporary falconers, but several game species are, such as red grouse on Levisham Moor in North Yorkshire, where BFC members are sporting tenants and recent finalists in the prestigious Purdey Awards. The sight of a peregrine—the noblest and most challenging of falcons to train, pitched against the king of all game birds—climbing dot high above heather moorland, before folding its wings in a mesmerising 1,000ft stoop, is considered by many to be the sport’s ultimate spectacle. At the other end of the scale, men on horseback deploy falcons against verminous crows on wild uplands in Devon and Northumberland with equal enthusiasm and success.
Henry VIII’S subjects would doubtless be stunned to learn that mews once home to their monarch’s birds of prey are now million-pound residences in central London. However, they would recognise straight away many of the words and phrases—fed up, codger, hag and hoodwinked to name a few (see box)—bequeathed by falconry to the English language.
The sport’s connections to literature established by Shakespeare are also as strong as ever; witness Helen Macdonald’s prize-winning novel from last year, H is for Hawk, which evokes memories of T. H. White’s The Goshawk and serves as a reminder of the special bond that has existed between humanity and birds of prey since time immemorial. For more information on the British Falconers’ Club, telephone 01692 404057 or visit www.britishfalconersclub.co.uk A handler calms his bird down by blindfolding it with a leather hood and thus tricks his charge into thinking it’s night
Falconry has been practised since before the birth of Christ and, despite the rise of game shooting, is still enjoyed in the field