Ben Hinton

Ben Hinton was head keeper at Witley Court in the early and mid 1900s working for Lord Dudley and Sir Herbert Smith. We are very grateful to David Hancock from Rowley Farm at Wichenford who had the foresight to interview Ben Hinton (as well as Ben Cooper) way back in 1977. Originally recording on tape cassette, the recording has been converted to digital and now available to a wide audience.

One of the last remaining sections of the old iron fence which ran all around Witley Court park.
One of the last remaining sections of the old iron fence which ran all around Witley Court park.

The recording provides a fascinating insight into working life on a large estate in the early 1900s. Ben talks about the 900 strong deer herd, how they used to catch the fawns within two hours of being born to mark them be cutting off the ear tips so they could be identified and harvested in the winter. He also talks about management of the woodland, rearing pheasant and managing the shooting. The shoots were attended by king Edward Vii and other nobility and 100 beaters were hired for the day to flush the game to the waiting guns.

Also part of the job was distributing rabbits and game to local tenant farmers and hospitals, all as part of the support given to the community by estate owners.

Bens recording: Hinton_Ben_1977_A

Start Topic Period
0.00 Catching new born fawns in deer park. Early to mid 1900s
2.31 Shooting bucks in the winter.
5.30 Taking rabbits and game for locals and the tenant farmers.
7.00 Extent of Witley Court Estate.
8.30 Holt Castle partridge shoot.
9.15 Other keepers: Lewis, Smalley & Cross, and keepers clothes.
11.30 Loading cartridges.
11.55 Shooting jays for their feathers for the ladies.
12.40 Iron fencing round the estate, and the old trees in the park.
15.30 Shooting deer in the winter.
18.30 Processing and distributing the deer after shooting.
21.45 Rearing pheasants with broody hens.
24.29 Releasing pheasants.
25.29 Managing the woods for shooting.
26.58 King Edward VII and nobility attending the shoots.
28.40 Organising 100 beaters on shoot day.
29.48 Hunting.
30.08 Lord Dudley & Arthur Jones betting they could shoot 99 pheasants for 100 shots.
35.58 Cartloads of cartridges for shoot day.
33.28 Catching 590 rabbits from Rowley Dingle.
34.18 Badger digging.
35.28 Sir Herbert Smith.
36.18 Rowley Dingle.
36.58 Making charcoal for the black country fires.