Seeking shepherds

View east from Reigate Hill. ©NTPL/John Miller

The National Trust is asking for volunteers to come forward to help check up on the sheep and cattle at Reigate Hill, Surrey.

Lead sculpture of a shepherd by John Van Nost at Canons Ashby, Northamptonshire. Acquired with the help of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, 1981. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler.

Head Warden Mark Richards says people do not need to be available every day, and training will be provided on how to identify potential problems with the 22 sheep and five cows.

A lead figure of a shepherd by Van Nost at Powis Castle, Powys. ©NTPL/David Levenson

Traditionally shepherds were seen as romantic figures, somehow situated on the border between civilisation and nature, gatekeepers of the world of myth.

Elizabeth Cust, Mrs Yorke, as a shepherdess by Francis Cotes, at Erddig, Wrexham. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Statues of shepherds adorned country house gardens. Grand ladies would have themselves portrayed as shepherdesses, just as they sometimes pretended to be godesses or Van Dyck-style historical figures.

Another view from Reigate Hill. ©NTPL/John Miller

However, I don’t think you need to carry a pipe or prance aroud in the nude to be a volunteer at Reigate Hill – an interest in animal welfare and a dose of common sense are more important in today’s volunteer shepherd.

8 Responses to “Seeking shepherds”

  1. columnist Says:

    “However, I don’t think you need to carry a pipe or prance aroud in the nude to be a volunteer”…..
    and there I was just ready to sign up.

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Well, at least the view is still romantic :)

  3. Andrew Sheldon Says:

    What about right-handed flautists? I wonder if they are any good as shepherds, clothed or otherwise – or perhaps it is the right-handed ones that keep their clothes on.

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    As far as I know the research into the relationship between right-handed flute-playing, aptitude for animal welfare and nudism is still in its infancy.

  5. Barbara Says:

    Apptitude for nudity simply not in its infancy.

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Quite. Here in Wiltshire we have a couple know as ‘the naked gardeners’, who have created the beautiful garden of Abbey House in Malmesbury: http://www.abbeyhousegardens.co.uk/

  7. graham daw Says:

    being a shepherd wasn’t very romantic. when i’d be lambing every spring it was just a hard slog,though i noted primroses emerging and early one morning saw the aurora borealis shimmering to the north.that was cornwall,so quite an event.

  8. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    You still make it sound rather romantic…:)

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