2017 – a year of anniversaries for White Park cattle

For one cattle breed 2017 holds an extra special significance.  The White Park Society held a celebratory dinner on 21 July to celebrate several significant historic events. The dinner was hosted by the President of the Society, Lawrence Alderson CBE, and was master-minded by celebratory chef, Mark Hix, with beef from the Bickleigh herd of White Park cattle owned by Society Vice-Chairman, John Lean.

 

Beef-on-the-bone

It was twenty years since the Society hosted a banquet in 1997 in Butchers Hall, headquarters of The Worshipful Company of Butchers in the historic Smithfield area. The White Park beef-on-the-bone piped around the Great Hall marked the last occasion before the ban on beef-on-the-bone came into effect. However, that anniversary was somewhat fortuitous.

 

Dynevor

The original purpose of the banquet was to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Rhys ap Gruffydd, the famous ruler of the kingdom of Deheubarth in southern Wales who died in 1197. Rhys owned the colour-pointed white cattle which we now know as White Park, and he was a ninth-generation descendant of Rhodri Mawr, who built Dynevor castle as a defence against the Vikings and first brought the white cattle to our attention in 856 AD. His grandson, Hywel Dda, formulated the Welsh Laws in the Venedotian and Dimetian codes in which the cattle appeared as payment of fines for infringement of the ruler’s prerogative.

 

Tawe cows

Therefore, Dynevor cattle, which now are kept on Salisbury Plain, demonstrate a provenance tracing back more than 1,000 years which other British breeds of cattle have not been able to record. But one family in the Dynevor herd can claim an even more remarkably ancient provenance. A paper by Ludwig, Alderson et al has added a new dimension to the history of the breed. It shows that those cows belonging to the Tawe family possess a mitochondrial haplotype which has been passed down the female line from a cow that lived ten thousand years ago.

 

Sir-Loin

The main purpose of the dinner in July 2017 was an important anniversary celebration for another reason. Although history was an integral factor, it was concerned more with meat quality. In 1617 James I was travelling through Lancashire and in early August was hosted by Sir Richard Hoghton at Hoghton Tower, which was home to a herd of White Park cattle. The obligatory banquet after a day of hunting included beef from the resident herd. The king declared “Finer beef nae man ever put his teeth into. What joint do ye ca’ it, Sir Richard?”. “The dish, sire, is a loin of beef” replied his host. “A loin! By my faith that is not a title honourable enough for a joint sae worthy. It wants a dignity, and it shall hae it. Henceforth it shall be Sir-Loin, an’ see ye ca’ it sae”. Thereby the excellence of White Park meat was written into the history of quality beef.

 

The quality of White Park beef remains notable in the twenty-first century for its marbling and flavour. It is marketed as a speciality product which commands a premium with outlets in London and in several provincial centres.

Lawrence Alderson CBE

President

White Park cattle in front of Dynevor Castle

 

 

Dinner to celebrate 400th anniversary of “Sir Loin”

Our dinner to celebrate the 400th anniversary of ‘Sir Loin’ was held at Hanford in Dorset on Friday 21 July.   Members and guests dined on a meal of White Park beef cooked by renowned chef and restaurateur Mark Hix MBE and supplied by farmer John Lean of Tiverton, Devon.   The meal was supported by the fine food department store Fortnum and Mason.

 

In 1617 King James I enjoyed a loin of White Park beef so much at a banquet at Hoghton Tower in Lancashire that he conferred the title of ‘Sir Loin’ on it. The qualities of marbling and flavour that so impressed him remain the trademarks of White Park beef today.

 

President of the White Park Cattle Society, Lawrence Alderson CBE, who hosted the dinner, said:  “The White Park is an ancient type of cattle kept in Britain for more than 2,000 years. The first written records appeared in the mid-ninth century in Wales and more herds were enclosed by the nobility in parks in other parts of Britain in the thirteenth century. They now are noteworthy not only for their distinctive appearance and beef quality, but also for their ease of calving and thrifty hardiness.”   The White Park breed is classified as a rare breed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

 

After the dinner had concluded the rare breeds auctioneer Clive Roads of Worcester Livestock Market hosted an auction of items donated to the White Park Cattle Society.

 

2017 AGM and Open Day

Our 2017 AGM and open day was held at Hanford Estate in Dorset on 22 July, by kind permission of the Pearson family.

After the formal meeting had concluded we held an open forum. Following lunch the members present were then taken on a tour of the 1800 acre Hanford Estate which, as well as including a herd of White Park cattle, had a state of the art dairy facility, Aberdeen Angus cattle and sheep. There are also some beautiful wildflower meadows and scheduled monuments on the estate. We finished the day with afternoon tea in the farmyard.

We would like to thank Mark, Charlotte and Lucy Pearson for helping us with arrangements and for being such fantastic hosts.

 

East Farm hosts successful Open Farm Sunday

Over 1600 visitors attended the Open Farm Sunday event hosted by our members Laura and Robert Cooper who live at East Farm near Avebury in Wiltshire.

As well as the herd of White Park cattle that were on show, visitors were also able to meet pigs, sheep and horses.  Children were able to ride on mini self propelled tractors and play in the grain pit, whilst a fake udder was available for anyone who wanted to have a go at milking.  Locally sourced food was on sale and the Co-op had brought along an educational game to see if visitors knew where their food came from.   And the Wiltshire Museum had brought along some old farming implements to give a flavour of a bygone age.

East Farm has undertaken a great deal of conservation work and together with its neighbouring farm has 5 miles of hedgerows, 7 miles of grass margins and 3 miles of wildflower margins, all of which provide superb cover for birds.

Our thanks go to the Cooper family for their hard work in promoting White Park cattle during the event, and also to members John Barker and Adrian Crocker who went along to East Farm to help them.

New bull Bickleigh Quattro arrives at Dinefrw

White Park bull Bickleigh Quattro has arrived at National Trust Dinefrw in order to serve the 30 females in the Dinefrw herd.

Rhodri Thomas, who will shortly take over the reins as head stockman from Wyn Davies, said: “The arrival of a new bull has been highly anticipated.

“To sustain the Dinefwr line, we were searching for a pedigree White Park bull and we are pleased to say we have found that in Quattro.

“It will take him up to four months to serve the whole herd and we’ll find out how successful he’s been next spring.”

The young bull is from a herd of White Park cattle bred in Devon by John Lean, but his family history lies in Dinefwr.

The breed helps to manage the estate at Dinefwr, providing a natural and effective method of keeping wildflower hay meadows at bay.

Retiring Head Stockman, Wyn Davies, is seen below with some of the females in the Dinefrw herd.

Would you like to manage a herd of White Park cattle?

It is your dream to manage a herd of White Park cattle?   That dream could be nearing reality.  Long standing members Helen and Mark Clark have a herd of around 45 White Parks all told, including Pass Plus stock bull Smoile Wilbur, cows and followers.  Helen and Mark established their herd in 1982 with two in-calf cows from Joe Henson’s Bemborough herd at Cotswold Farm Park.  But now that age is catching up with them Helen and Mark would like either full or part time help with their herd.   A three bedroom cottage could be provided.

Applicants need to good all round workers, motivated and keen to promote the White Park breed.  A single person, couple or a family are all welcome to apply.
Mark and Helen Clark live in the New Forest in Hampshire.

If you are interested in finding out more, or know someone who might fit the bill please contact the Clarks on [email protected]

 

 

AGM and Open Day will be in Dorset

The Society  AGM and Open Day will be held on Saturday 22 July in Dorset.  The location for the AGM will be the dining hall of Hanford School, a private girls’ school situated in the Hanford Estate.  After the AGM we will tour Hanford Farm, by kind permission of WPCS members Mr and Mrs Mark Pearson.

Booking forms have been mailed to all members and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible.

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White Park cattle travel to new home in Germany

In late 2016 Arche Warder farm park in Germany contacted us to say that they were looking to purchase some White Park cattle.

The farm park is now the proud owner of heifers Cadzow Lyndsay and Cadzow Lacey, who travelled to Germany from Haddington in the Borders of Scotland, and bull Wytch Osprey who travelled from Dorset.

Daniela from the farm park is delighted with her new arrivals and says that they have all settled in well.

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