Everyone has a connection to Scotland and at Hestercombe and ours is... grouse shooting in the Highlands, the Scottish wars of independence, and a butler!
Hunting in the Highlands
Teddy Portman was know for his love of hunting and so made regular trips to Scotland in the autumn months where he could be found grouse shooting on the Aberarder moors in Inverness-shire. Lying south of Loch Ruthven in the parish Laggan, these low, scrubby moors also concealed good numbers of mountain hare.
On one outing on the Aberarder moorlands in August 1909 the count for the Hon. E. W. B. Portman and party (3 guns) was 39 brace grouse, 23 hares and 1 ½ brace ptarmigan.
Some of his game books are kept in our archives and will be on show for the first time in our new heritage exhibition Things that pass a thousand times: Unearthing Hestercombe's collections, opening March 2022.
From Somerset to the Scottish War of Independence
Summoned by royal writs during the First War of Scottish Independence (1296-1328), Sir John de Meriet fought against Scottish forces led by Robert the Bruce on at least three separate occasions in 1301, 1309 and 1314, the last date coinciding with a decisive Scottish rout of the largest ever English army to invade Scotland at Bannockburn near Stirling. Sir John returned home safely, despite the loss of thousands of infantry, 100 knights and one earl. Subsequently, at York, on the 9th of July 1319 De Meriet was rewarded for his loyalty with a charter of free warren.
Scottish roots at Hestercombe
E. W. B. Portman’s butler at the turn of the 20th century, Stonehaven, Scotland born Allan Falconer (1856-1934), lived with his wife, Sarah, their daughter and three of their four sons in Gotton Lodge on the eastern boundary of the Hestercombe Estate. Allan and Sarah Falconer moved frequently during their lives and by 1911 were living in Cambridgeshire where Allan Falconer had accepted a new position in Oundle, near Peterborough. Misfortune followed when two of Allan Falconer’s four sons perished during World War I: Private John Malcolm Falconer (1888-1918), 2/4th battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry (India, 1918); and Lance Corporal Edgar Falconer (1891-1917), 1st battalion Herefordshire Regiment (Egypt, 1917). Brighter days returned when on 26 April 1922 their only daughter, Christabell, married Frank Claude Bradbury (1884-1968), who had worked under Falconer at Hestercombe, aged 16, as Hall boy and was now the Hon. Mrs. Portman’s butler.