History (part 2)

Ronald Blythe published those notes in a book called The View in Winter, a Reflection on Old Age, Canterbury Press 2005. ISBN 1-85311-592-4. They appear in Chapter 1, Page 82, entitled A Glimpse of the Duke – the Gamekeeper.

On learning of the above, Brian Boon (now living in School Lane) contacted Ronald Blythe. He advised that unfortunately he was unable to make the originals available. However Brian has his written permission ‘. to quote anything he likes from the work’.

The following has all been provided by Brian - thanks very much indeed for this interesting insight of your ancestors.

A Glimpse of the Duke: the Gamekeepeer, aged seventy

"I am just on three score year and ten and will write down what has happened to me in this place. On 10 February 1904 to Samuel and Emmaretta Pipe a son was born. They already had four children, two girls and two boys. For three weeks this child lived at the Half Moon public house, Grundisburgh, with his family. Very unfortunately at this time his mother died. He was taken by his uncle and aunt to be brought up as their own child although they already had four children, three boys and one girl. This baby boy who was me was called Richard Richardson Pipe. His uncle and aunt were Frank and Rose Richardson. Their eldest boy was called Frank, Albert was their second son, and Tom was their third son, and Mary their daughter. Frank Richardson was a keeper for the Duke of Hamilton at Easton and lived at Park Cottage on the borders of the most beautiful woods and farmland. A very primitive track, one mile in length, led from this cottage to the village".

Park Cottage (at the end of the lane past the Cricket Club)


"My earliest memory is that of riding round in my uncle's game-bag and feeding the pheasants. I used to stand up in the bag and hang on to his shoulders. When I was five years old my cousin Mary took me to school in a push-chair. She, like all the other girls at school, wore a red cloak. These cloaks were presented by her Grace and all the girls in the village wore them. It was about a mile to school and during severe winters we were unable to go because of deep snow-drifts. Mary was in the large room and I was in the infants' room. Park Cottage was situated close to Maids' Wood. It was strongly built of brick covered with ivy. It was always the Duke's wish to have ivy planted against any houses which he had built. Also when planting new plantations to have ivy put against each tree. His Grace loved ivy".

R Pipe & F Richardson

"Our drinking water came from a pond which was at the top of the garden. In this pond were many newts, toads, and small fish. I have enjoyed many an hour on its banks, my rod a hazel sapling cut from the hedge, with a bent pin for a hook and dough for bait. They were happy, carefree days. I was very interested in birds and I had red and grey linnets in cages. They were great songsters. In October my aunt, who was sorry to see them shut up, would say, 'Let them go now, Dick,' and I would open the cage doors and out they would go, loving their freedom".

Rosa W Richardson

"At Park Cottage we had many dogs belonging to the Duke and Duchess. There were two St Bernards, Trimond and Una. We also had Sealyhams and Labradors. The sealyhams were used by her Grace for ratting parties during the threshing season. I well remember how Trimond and Una used to howl at the moon and also how I sat on their backs when I was very small. They are buried in the Dogs' Cemetery behind the church. As well as his Grace's dogs we also kept two golden retrievers of our own".

"My cousin Bert was in the navy and stationed in India for two years. He was serving in H.M.S. Highflyer. One day we received the exciting news that he was coming home on leave. My aunt said, 'You go and watch for him, Dick, and when you see his white hat coming, you call me.' Presently I saw the white hat far away down the long lane. I shouted to my aunt, who came running out of the house with Kiss, Mary's white Persian cat. We three went off to meet him. As he drew near we saw that he had a monkey on his shoulder. It ran down his leg and received a nasty scratch on the nose from Kiss, who did not like the look of him. Bert gave him to me and he was a great novelty in the village for the next year or so. On Saturdays I used to take him to the village shop for sweets. He wore a harness with a small chain attached and in winter he wore a coat".

HMS Highflyer

"The Duke of Hamilton's estate was a very large one, taking in Brandeston, Kettleburgh, Hoo, Monewden, Charsfield, Letheringham, Hacheston, Parham, Gt Glemham and other villages. The seat of the Duke was Easton Mansion. There were nine under-keepers and one head keeper, George Meadows. In those days the estate was teaming with game, pheasant, partridge, mallard, snipe and woodcock. There were also thousands of rabbits which were fed on Easton Park. The Duke insisted that they should be fed in sharp weather".

"These rabbits were of different colours. A man was detailed off with a Suffolk horse and tumbril to feed them with turnips, swedes and other root vegetables. The Duke had two rabbit shoots each year. My uncle told me that on one occasion they shot 1,000 rabbits before lunch. The pock-marks of the shot are still to be seen today on the crinkle-crankle wall which surrounds the park near the Grove. After the shoot the rabbits were taken in a tumbril to the Model Farm where a pit had previously been dug, and they were buried. These rabbits were unfit for human consumption as they were so badly peppered with shot and, anyway, there were these signs of disease in them owing to interbreeding".

"Having so much game on the estate inevitably did a good deal of damage to the crops and because of this the farms were let to tenants at reduced rents. The estate was managed by two brothers named Godley. One of them went down on the Titanic. Each under-keeper was expected to rear 1,000 pheasants a season and was allowed casual help from one man between 1 April and 31 October. At this time there were several osier-beds on the Duke's estate which were rented to my uncle George Pipe who employed mostly throughout the year eight or nine men in double-digging and replanting the beds with osier sets. The Godley brothers did not encourage my uncle to be in the osier beds during the shooting season as he disturbed the game, so he too was compensated fully for any damage done by hares and rabbits. He started cutting osiers on 2 February as the game season was then out. Game loves osiers and good drives were enjoyed by the Duke and his guests. They were very spectacular shooting times with bags of from 500 to 1,000 pheasants a day. Two marquees were erected near our cottage and lunches were served to the guns, loaders and keepers. The beaters were given half a loaf of bread with half a pound of cheese and two pints of draught beer".

"Forty men were employed as beaters, plus a dozen boys who took up positions as blocks [stops]. There were also cartridge boys who wore velvet suits and who carried trays of cartridges for the guns. Cartridges were bought by the ton and were brought by rail to Wickham Market Station and collected by a farm-labourer with a waggon drawn by two horses. They were taken to the Mansion and put in the Gun Room. Many of the beaters came from Wickham Market Foundry and they would pick up the used brass cartridges, take them to the foundry, melt them down and turn them into trinkets. Two policemen always attended the Duke's shoots and they would eye the bulging pockets of the foundrymen in case they were pilfering game. But it was only brass cases. At the end of the day all the keepers and loaders would be in the Gun Room cleaning their masters' guns and talking about the events of the day. They drank gin and there was laughter and chatter. My uncle could remember when the keepers all wore livery of green velvet with brass buttons and hard hats. All this was a long way back in my lifetime but I lived it".

"I remember it all most particularly, aunt, Jacko my monkey, her Grace, the game everywhere, the round houses which the Duke built and all the fun we had".

The picture of Easton School Outing 1911 above, Brian Boon found in his  parents ‘safety box’. He can’t confirm the driver, but his Grandfather was a Horseman on the Estate, had a beard and would have been 52 at the time - so it could well be him above.