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Delight as ‘banished’ hounds make welcome return to kennels

More than a century after they were “banished”, the Seavington hounds have visited their old kennels on hound exercise as part of a fundraising initiative.

The Seavington were kenneled at Hinton Park, Somerset, home of the Earls Poulett, until the seventh earl – a former master of the Seavington – died in 1918. The eighth earl was not a fan of field sports, and upon his inheritance of the title, the hounds were moved from the Park.

The old kennels can be found in the gardens of what is now Harvant House. Long-term hunt supporter and Hinton Park resident, Andrew Norton, had the idea of bringing the hounds back to their former home when viewing the renovations being made to the kennels by his neighbours, Malcolm and Charlotte Gillan. The hounds, with new huntsman Ben Hood, and Seavington supporters, observing social distancing guidelines, met in the grounds of the Hinton Park estate at 8am on a sunny morning, and walked nearly four miles through the park, stopping at the old kennels en route, where the Gillans welcomed them with early-morning snifters of port and slabs of fruitcake.

The Gillans bought the property in 2015, at which point the kennels were overgrown with trees, nettles and brambles to the point of being almost invisible. Previous owners had also used the kennels as a dump for unwanted items. Skips were brought in for the rubbish and the trees and undergrowth were removed. The structure of the brick and ironwork kennels is now visible once more and renovation is ongoing.

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Mrs Gillan, who has hunted side-saddle with the Seavington in the past, said: “It has been an absolute delight to welcome the hunt and their impeccably-behaved hounds to our kennels. It gives a great sense of stepping back in time as we imagine how things would have been here a century ago. Ben says we can have all the hounds to stay when he goes on his holidays!”

Seavington master, Annabel Rogers said: “This has been a wonderful day, without doubt the best thing we have done outside hunting for years.”

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