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The Elveden Game Department.

Game shooting increased in popularity during the last half of the 19th century. Many of the large estates in East Anglia were renowned for the quality of their shoots and during the ownership of H.H. the Maharajah Duleep Singh Elveden grew into a nationally famous sporting estate.

The two previous owners of Elveden the 4th Earl of Albemarle and Mr. William Newton, had also used the Estate mainly for the shooting it provided, but, Lord Albemarle was described as promising to be 'a very active and experimental farmer; and will, by improving and planting, change the face of the desert that surrounds him', neither did he 'neglect afforestation'General View of the Agriculture of the County of Suffolk - by Arthur Young -1804. The Earl of Albemarle was a friend and 'disciple' of the famous agriculturist Thomas Coke of Holkham, Norfolk'Coke of Norfolk and his friends'. - M.W. Stirling. Newton made improvements and continued to enlarge the plantations adding to the 'agreeableness of the situation''Guide Book of the Time] references taken from 'The Elveden Enterprise.' by George Martelli

Rearing Pens on Sugarloaf Beat - Tom Turner in centre - 1900The purchase of the Estate by the First Earl of Iveagh in 1894 saw the continued expansion of the Game Department and by the turn of the 20th century over 70 men were employed.

The department continued to evolve over the next 39 years up to the outbreak of the second world war. During this time Elveden, together wBag-records.jpg (90705 bytes)ith many other estates, developed her own method of managing game-birds with a prodigious number of birds being reared and released to augment the supply of wild birds; the success of which can be found by looking at examples of the bag records from the period. 

Elveden Game Larder after a shoot

Head Keeper Tom Turner aged 83With the exception of periods during the First and Second World Wars the Game Department has been in existence for over 140 years, it is therefore the single most continuous activity in Elveden's history
Gamekeepers left to right. Ian Turner. George Dorling. Jimmy Turner. Ernie Palmer. Herbert Turner. Fred (Peter) Trett - 1950s

Shooting Party left to right . 1. unknown. 2.Rory More O'Ferrall, 3. Lady Elizabeth. 4.Tom Blackwell. 5. Captain Bunbury. 6&7 unknown. 8. Fritz von Preussen. 7. Unknown. 8. John Hare, Lord BlakenhamFundamental changes have taken place in the methods adopted to ensure that the numbers of pheasants and partridges are sufficient to supply the sport.
Fritz von Preussen and loader

Keepers and Beaters c.1999For the past fifty years wild stocks of birds have not been relied upon and two generations of game-keepers have used incubators, electric hens and release pens to supply the sport. 

Keepers and Beaters - Tom Turner, Head Keeper aged 83, in front with hunting horn c.1953These rearing methods are preferable in most parts of the country as they give a certain amount of predictability to the game shooting as well as being more easily integrated into modern farming systems.

Many changes have occurred in game shooting, not only in the system of management but also in the technology used by the sportsmen.

Elveden Keepers -1990s .Left to right standing Bob Barfield. Barry Austin. Gerald Magennis; John (Hoss) YoungeHowever things have gone full circle, and Elveden, once again, after 40 years of rearing and releasing pheasants, is now being managed for it's wild stocks. 

The demands of today's sportsmen are much lower therefore a balance can be found to accommodate modern farming and all forms of wildlife.

Some photographs and Game Bag record taken from 'Memoirs of a Gamekeeper' by T.W. Turner - Geoffrey Bles.
Other photographs used by permission of Lord Iveagh.
2000 J. Rudderham
 

A Forest Heath District Council (Suffolk) Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Millennium Festival 2000 Designed by ArtAtac