Pakenham History : The History of Nether Hall

"The History of Nether Hall and the Various Owners "
A short history written by W.R. Rayner
with kind permission given by his daughter Gill Applegate to publish on
the Pakenham -Village web site.

PAGE - 11

Another joke is recorded in one of the latest novels of Christopher Isherwood. He tells how guests on a summer evening would be informed that an errant, brazen-faced rabbit appeared much too frequently on the lawn in front of the house, and all attempts to shoot it had failed. The drawing room windows were opened, and the male guests were told to keep their guns at the ready. Wagers were laid against the impossibility of shooting it. Then as the guests were sipping their port, Sir Walter would suddenly shout, "There's that damn rabbit again". Guns would be fired, but the stuffed rabbit pursued its slow course across the lawn, pulled along by a camouflaged cord by a footman safely hidden in the trees.

Sir Walter himself was not a good shot. His guest "guns" politely restrained themselves until Sir Walter had made the first kill of the day to the applause of "Well Shot, Sir Walter!" from his attendant henchmen. The shoot proceeded in the most convivial manner. Sir Walter being content to disturb the equilibrium of the birds flight, while his guests proceeded to increase the size of "the bag". He normally employed two gamekeepers. The head gamekeeper lived in the isolated house by Clay Pond on the Thurston Road, while the under keeper lived elsewhere on the estate. Pheasants were reared in the enclosure behind the head keeper's house, and the mature birds were distributed in the various plantations about the estate during the summer.

Sir Walter did not confine his sporting activities entirely to shooting. He was a keen follower of the staghounds, and kept his own private pack at "The Home Farm" while the deer were reared on the deer paddock in the Park, which still bears along one side the incurved wire fence placed there to prevent their escape. The day before the Hunt two runnable stags were corralled; and on the day of the Hunt they were taken in the stag cart to a meadow, upon which a private house now stands, opposite the Church Hill end of Sheep Lane. Here one stag was released ten minutes before the huntsmen and the hounds assembled in the same meadow. If the stag ran well the Hunt was "on"; and the other stag followed in the stag cart in case of an early kill. The second stag was then released on strange ground to keep the Hunt going for the day.