Monday, 29 March 2010

A sporting estate

Its a cold, wet and gloomy morning, which matches my mood given the forecast for the rest of the week. So I'm giving the reserve a miss today and will instead refer you to an old book of mine entitled "Memoirs of a Gamekeeper 1868-1953"

The gamekeeper in question was one T.W. Turner and he was gamekeeper at Elvenden in Suffolk for 50-odd years. His recollections are very much those of a gamekeeper steeped in the old-fashioned and ruthless ways of gamekeepers of that era and on an estate that was one of the finest in the country.
I have taken a couple of examples from the Elveden Game and Vermin Registers over many years which will show you the degree to which both Game and Vermin were pursued in those days with some astonishing totals which, especially when you consider it was just one Estate amongst very many in the country then, shows the astonishing extent of wildlife in those days and the extent, in most cases, to which it has diminished today.

1921/22 - Game

Pheasants - 10,245
Partridges - 3,016 (presumably Greys)
Hares - 2,258
Rabbits - 128,856
Woodcock - 60
Snipe - 2 (367 in 1907)


Pheasants - 8,023
Partridges - 705
Hares - 705
Rabbits - 23,535
Woodcock - 106
Snipe - 0

But it is the "Vermin" killed that is astonishing and especially when you consider that these pests were found and killed in similar amounts nearly every year.


Rats - 10,489
Stoats - 1,137
Hedgehogs - 479
Weasels - 234
Jays - 90
Crows - 360
Hawks - 124 (oh dear)
Magpies - 1
Squirrels - 300
Various - 706 (whatever they were?)

In 1911 they also began Mole trapping and killed 3,629 that year but rarely saw a fox until after the First World War.

Interesting stuff but not in a lot of ways acceptable by today's standards.


  1. The only death total I would be interested in Derek would be:-
    Gamekeepers killed in 1st world war. Every cloud......

  2. I can see how you feel Warren but just look at how much wildlife that there was in those days, despite the gamekeepers activities. Gordon Brown and his concreting over the countryside is probably doing a lot worse these days than those gamekeepers.

  3. yea, there were lots of game keepers too, so it doesn't matter then :-)

    Will a new government stop the concreting, derek ? i'll vote for the party that does.

    Maybe we should start a thread on the forum :-)

  4. Warren, I don't think a thread on that subject on the Forum will be a good idea, they don't like debates on there, that's the whole point of having these blogs isn't it.