Leisure in Willen

Victorian Farmers' Pastimes

The Whiting family were keen to introduce new technology onto their farms. They were the first in the area to use steam engines, but that did not mean that they had given up on horses. In fact they were horse mad. Like most of the richer people in the area, they all went fox hunting regularly.
This photograph shows a meet of the local hounds on Market Hill in Newport Pagnell around the time of the first world war. The man on horseback looking towards the camera is Lord Rosebery. Farmers tend to live quite lonely lives on their farms. Hunts provided an opportunity for them to get together, have an exciting ride, enjoy the company of lots of dogs and destroy a serious pest - a fox. Foxes would take young lambs; if they got into a hen run they would kill the lot, and they were carriers of serious diseases like mange.

Other pursuits enjoyed by the farmers were: horse racing, George and Charles Whiting bred and raced horses quite successfully; shooting, Joseph was keen to have the shooting rights on his land and fishing. The Ouse and the Ouzel run through Whiting land, although gentlemen preferred to go for trout and salmon using flies. They left the coarse fish for the agricultural labourers.

The ladies would also have enjoyed hunting and racing, but they would be encouraged to become good musicians too. The Whiting ladies were responsible for organising the 'entertainment' at fetes and celebrations.