Shooting Gazette

SHANE STRAWBRIDGE

Shane Strawbridge’s Wiscombe Park has a rich and fascinating history. It belonged to the church in medieval times before it was granted to Sir William Bonville during the reign of Henry III. It then passed to the Marquis of Dorset, later the Duke of Suffolk, and was eventually bought by the Gordon family (The Earls of Aberdeen) who in 1815 commissioned a local builder to construct the impressive Gothic pile seen today.

Richard and Bunny Chichester bought the estate in 1953, principally to start the legendary Wiscombe Park Hillclimb. The parkland has hosted the 1,000-yard course since 1958. Then, in the 1980s, Maurice Wood set up a driven shoot. When he decided to leave in 1995 a syndicate of Dutch businessmen took it over but the gamekeeper stayed on.

Simon Peniston-Bird (SP-B) So where do you fit into the story?

Shane Strawbridge (SS): “I started full-time as an underkeeper at 28, having been born and bred a dairy farmer. I was working on my Dad’s farm and keepering our little shoot at home. We only released 1,000 birds but I used to get out at home and on Wiscombe lamping foxes and so on.

“One January day my father said they needed a loader over on the park the next day. I asked how I was supposed to deal with 120 milking cows and go loading. “We’ll work on late this evening then get up early to get the cows done

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