Vive le sport!
From super shoots to Thoroughbreds, these estates have it all
WITH the pheasant season already well under way, locals living around Porlock in Somerset on the northern edge of the Exmoor National Park, are quite used to the chuntering of helicopters in the skies above the Lillycombe estate, as the guns arrive for another exciting day’s shooting. Some may even have noted a sharp increase in the volume of traffic in recent weeks, as prospective purchasers fly in to view one of Exmoor’s most famous private shoots, which has come to the market through Knight Frank (01392 848823), at a guide price of £5.75 million (Fig 1).
Although by no means one of Britain’s largest sporting venues, the deep wooded valleys and secret combes of the secluded 861-acre estate, which straddles the coastal ridge of Exmoor up to 1,400ft above sea level, present no fewer than 23 memorable partridge and pheasant drives, with the high birds of Pitt Combe guaranteed to test the nerve of even the most expert shots.
The estate has passed—in unbroken succession—through the families of the 18th-century Lord Chancellor Peter King and the first two Earls of Lovelace to the present owners, the Earl and Countess of Lytton, who have progressively developed the shoot, established in 1988. Although run as a commercial enterprise, participation is restricted to an exclusive private clientele, many of whom return year after year. The owners’ aim has been to provide ‘the kind of day that guns would lay on for their best friends if they owned the estate’. Now, at least one privileged member of the fraternity has the chance to do just that.
The focal point of the estate is Lillycombe House, listed Grade II, which was built in 1912, with mid-20th-