was delighted that the National Trust members’ resolution, demanding a ban on trail hunting on Trust land, was defeated at the AGM 1 November). The margin of the defeat was just a few hundred votes — 30,985 to 30,686 — prompting the Guardian to report that the Trust “was accused of succumbing to pressure from the hunting lobby after a motion to ban trail hunting on the organisation’s land was narrowly defeated at its annual conference on Saturday, sparking warnings that some members would cancel their subscriptions in disgust”.
I’m an ex-member of the Trust because I resigned (in disgust) when it banned stag hunting on the 12,000-acre Holnicote estate on Exmoor 20 years ago. My wife remains a member, so she was one of the one per cent who bothered to vote on this latest resolution. The fact that 99 per cent of members didn’t vote suggests that it cannot have been an issue of great concern to most of them.
Under National Trust rules, a similar resolution cannot be raised again for four years. However, I won’t be surprised if the antis, encouraged by the closeness of this recent vote, come up with similar proposals to stop game shooting on Trust land. Don’t forget that the National Trust is a huge landowner, with more than 600,000 acres in England and Wales.
I don’t think that I have ever shot or worked a dog on National Trust land, but I have hunted with the Devon and Somerset Staghounds on Holnicote before the ban came in. I recall being asked by the owner of the horse that
I had hired how I was doing. It was about 2pm, so I’d been riding for three hours.
I replied that I thought the horse was getting tired. “Rubbish,” came the robust reply. “That horse hunts six days a week: you’re the one that’s getting tired.” I’m sure he was right.
The first meet of foxhounds that I went to on a horse was at Winston Churchill’s former home of Chartwell, owned by the National Trust since 1946. There is a wonderful old black-and-white photograph of him mounted at a meet of the Old Surrey and Burstow at Chartwell in November 1948. grandson of Edward Cecil) has kindly invited the Kennel Club to hold the HPR Championship on his estate. Elveden is now more renowned for its innovative arable agriculture than it is for shooting. The emphasis is on wild rather than reared game, so handlers running their dogs next week won’t encounter a confusion of birds. HPRS work best where game is sparse rather than overabundant, making this ground very suitable for a competition of this kind.
Depth of talent
For a long time the HPR Championship was a GSP monopoly but recent years have shown the depth of talent in HPRS and the ability of less familiar breeds. Last year the winner was Adrian Blackledge with a Hungarian wirehaired vizsla, FTCH Kerride Henry; in 2014 it was Howard Kirby and his German longhaired pointer Wamilanghaar Tash. Though more GSPS have qualified than any other breed, don’t be surprised if it is not a GSP that takes the title this year.
Spectators are welcome at Elveden and there is no need to register. For more details check on the Kennel Club website (po.st/hpr17).
SHOOTING TIMES & COUNTRY MAGAZINE • 37
winston Churchill hunting in november 1948