Historic Deer Park
The herd of fallow deer at Prideaux Place is thought to be one of the oldest park herds in the country. The Park itself has been dated back to its enclosure by the Romans in 435AD though not necessarily in its present form.
Legend has it that if the deer die out, then so does the Prideaux family. In February 1927 the herd was supplemented with a new master buck sent via the Great Western Railway by King George V from the herd at Windsor. Unfortunately the animal did not get the chance to improve the bloodline as was hoped, for the following morning the gamekeeper set out to cull the old master buck and shot the King’s buck instead.
In the Spring of 2010 an exciting new breeding programme began under the expertise of Paul Messenger, the Estate Deer Manager. Paul is also the Chairman of the British Deer Society South West of England Branch. The aim is to get a paler colour fallow deer so much admired in park deer. This gentle process will take many years.
New introductions by way of three menil fallow bucks, a very pale variety of fallow, and a white doe were made into the Prideaux herd. These deer came from Powderham Castle near Exeter, the family home of the Earls of Devon.
The white doe is called Snowflake and she was gifted by Mr Prideaux-Brune to his granddaughter Lila Bee who loves to help with feeding the deer.
Snowflake has given us three fawns including a fine white buck named Norty. He is a sorrel, an ancient term for a fallow deer in its third year. His first set of antlers got him into a spot of bother just before Christmas. He got himself tangled in some fence wire. His plight was featured on BBC Countryfile when presenter Matt Baker was filmed cutting Norty free.
Funded by the little book ‘Me Too, a Bear’s Eye View’ which is on sale at the house, several new trees have been planted, the first for many years. When mature the mixture of oak, chestnut and beech will provide much valued shelter and fruit for the deer.
Watch the Feeding
The deer are fed daily by Deerkeeper Jim Hocking. In winter they are given fodder beet, apples and any waste vegetables which might be available, plus barley or oats to provide bulk and energy. Hay is available all year round but in April feeding stops except for a few buckets of grain and their favourite apples which are used to draw the deer into the public eye, where they are a great local attraction to our visitors and residents alike.
Enjoy the sight of the deer whilst taking a light lunch, a glass of wine or afternoon tea in our licensed Terrace Tearoom overlooking our stunning Deer Park with its views across the Camel Estuary.
Feeding times vary so if you are planning your visit to include seeing the deer being fed please check the time beforehand by contacting the Administrator on 01841 532411 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org