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.

 

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.

White Park cow Smoile Vivien is overall Champion at Chelford Rare Breeds show and sale

Seven year old White Park cow Smoile Vivien was named overall Champion Rare Breed at the show and sale held at Chelford Market on Saturday 24 September 2016.  Smoile Vivien was owned by Jessica Bryne-Daniel and bred by Mr and Mrs Anthony Milner.  Following her success in the show ring Smoile Vivien and her calf PantGwyn Veritas then made the highest price of the day selling at 2550 guineas to White Park Cattle Society member Mr Adam Ogden.

smoile-vivien

 

New book detailing the Collegewood herd of White Park cattle is published

Until its dispersal in 2013 following the retirement of John Barker, the highly respected Collegewood herd of White Park cattle grazed beautiful parkland in the Chilterns.    As a non-farmer with no land and no prospect of buying any John’s start in life as a cattle owner looked precarious.  But with a lot of hard work, help from friends and neighbours and his devoted wife Mo, John acquired more and more acres and gradually developed his beloved White Park herd.  Following retirement from owning cattle John has written a 53 page A4 book, illustrated by many beautiful photographs, which details how he started out his cattle-owning career with two acres and a Charolais x Welsh Black calf and finished with a herd of White Park cattle that enjoyed a visit from Her Majesty the Queen.

John’s book “Collegewood” is now available from the White Park Cattle Society priced at £8.  To order your copy please telephone 01926 632560 or email [email protected]

JBarkerbookJohnBarkerbook2

Pennyspot Pheobe is awarded Champion rosette at show

At our annual show on Friday 25 September at Worcester Livestock market White Park cow Pennyspot Pheobe was awarded the Champion rosette and Heathylee Cup for best overall female. Pennyspot Pheobe was bred by John Carrick and is owned by David Graveston.   She was born in 2009 by Smoile Napoleon out of Pennyspot Ivory and has just given birth to her fourth calf.

The following day Pennyspot Pheobe and her calf were sold during the WPCS Annual Sale.

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Roy  Critchlow (left) awards David Graveston the Heathylee cup

Member donates proceeds of sale to emergency fund

ForageAidphoto

Flood-stricken farmers will be benefiting from the proceeds of the sale of a White Park heifer which was auctioned during the White Park Society Spring breed sale on Saturday 17 May 2014 at Worcester Market.  The heifer was donated by White Park Council member, Frank Sutton.

Gracedieu Charlie was sold for 780 guineas and together with a collection at the market and a donation by the White Park Cattle Society a total of £1000 was raised for Forage Aid.

Frank Sutton of Parc Grace Dieu, Raglan, Gwent commented “I felt compelled to help the farming communities that have been so badly affected by this winter’s floods.  It was gratifying to see attendees bid so keenly for a beautiful animal and help an excellent cause”.

The White Park Cattle Society Chairman said “The Society would like to thank Frank Sutton for his generosity.   As well as Frank’s donated heifer there was also a range of other high-quality pedigree White Parks sold during the auction”.

Somerset farmer James Winslade, whose family farm was severely flooded at the beginning of 2014, accepted the donation on behalf of Forage Aid.

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