The Estate

History

Old image of Maharajah Dhuleep Singh and 13 other men and woman sitting in front of Heveningham Hall

Maharajah Duleep Singh showing him seated in deerstalker and tweeds as part of a hunting party at Heveningham Hall in 1876. Those shown in the photograph include the Duke of Cambridge, Sir Huch Cholmely, Maj Gen J W Macdonald, Lord Colville, Captain Venneck and Lord Huntingfield.

 

The earliest recording of the game shooting at Heveningham Hall relates to the deer parks.

The earliest recording of the game shooting at Heveningham Hall relates to the deer parks. A deer park appears at Heveningham in Christopher Saxton’s County Map of Suffolk, dated 1575, but its roots go much further back to 1271 when a grant from the Crown gave free hunting for the manor to John de Heveningham. A slightly earlier date is given for the establishment of the deer park around Huntingfield Hall on the opposite side of the valley and later incorporated into the current estate. Huntingfield was the home of William de Huntingfield, one of the 25 signatories of the Magna Carta and the deer park would have been associated with the high status hunting and running of the deer.

Old photo of Maharajah Duleep Singh sitting crossed legged.
Black and white painting of Queen Elizabeth the first.

One of the ancient park oaks is still called the Queen’s Oak, reputedly from where Queen Elizabeth I shot a deer while staying at Huntingfield during one of her Royal progresses.

Although the oldest trees on the estate date from this period, the landscape that exists today was set out by Capability Brown in the late 18th Century. Capability Brown was commissioned by the then owner of Heveningham, Sir Gerard Vanneck to remodel the old deer parks and river, forming a more suitable Arcadian setting for his new Palladian mansion. The new Park and series of lakes was one of Brown’s last works and has all the characteristics of his subtle genius, transforming the wide sweep of the upper Blythe Valley that forms the heart of the estate into a great parkland bowl, surrounded by woodland belts. The lakes run through the valley bottom and appear as a wide serpentine river, reflecting the huge Suffolk skies and teaming with wildfowl, fish and other aquatic life.

Although designed for the eye, Capability Brown had an eye for the practical and these woodland belts form a series of rides and covers that created the backbone of what in the 19th Century was to become one of the great shoots of England.

Under the direction of the 3rd Lord Huntingfield, Heveningham was one of the first Partridge shoots, recording some of the astonishing bags of the 19th Century. Frequent guests included the best shots of the day including Lord Walsingham, Lord de Grey and the Maharajah Duleep Singh, who along with Lord Huntingfield still hold some of the record bags for both driven and walked up game. There is a story of a covey of eight partridges flying over Walsingham and de Grey and each taking a brace of left and rights.

Like many great estates, the 20th century took a heavy toll on Heveningham and the last 20 years has seen a unique restoration project piecing back together the core estate and restoring this unique Suffolk landscape. As part of this restoration over 800,000 trees have been planted, more than 5000 acres of parkland restored from arable, nearly 2 km of lakes created and many miles of concrete track and overhead cables removed. Because of these works and intimately linked has been the revival of the shoot.

Complementing a broad estate wide environmental strategy cover strips, rides and fallow belts have been formed alongside the woods and within the wider arable landscape to create a truly diverse and exceptional shoot.

Want to enquire about Heveningham Hall Shoot? Contact us today.