“I have a vivid memory of being hit several times by buckshot!”
Barras Stone was part of the beating team for the Sherborne Castle Estate Shoot because it was a way of earning 15 shillings for the day. In the Autumn of 1960 a 14 year old boarding pupil at Foster’s Grammar School joined the beating line situated in the unspoilt north Dorset countryside.
And so one cold misty morning back in October 1960 a group of Foster border boys congregated outside Sherborne Lodge to earn their 15 shillings…
“The shoot days were normally long, wet and very cold. Most of the beating was in a field of kale which was sodden with moisture. We didn’t have any protective clothing. I would come out of the field looking like a wet rag!"
Barras described the shoot as a mixture of woodland and open field drives.
“If the shoot went well we were also given a brace of pheasants which was sold to the butcher for a guinea.” Barras is keen to point out that his hard earned pennies enabled him to buy Christmas presents for the family each year.
“After a long day beating we had to walk several miles back to the school. Being a border meant we were subject to lots of rules and regulations so being able to earn some money was a fantastic opportunity.”
As Barras embarked on a trip down memory lane it became clear that beating 50 years ago was an enjoyable yet challenging experience. Braving the elements in a jumper and jeans were accepted conditions of a beater’s role. Thankfully today we have the luxury of protective clothing and a team of well trained dogs to support the line. With the added bonus of working established drives it makes beating today an enjoyable and rewarding experience.