On leaving Agricultural College next stop was the Heythrop. This resulted from Stephen Lambert coming to visit my father after he had received serious leg injuries in a car crash. Inevitably my future was to be discussed and Mr Lambert thought that it may be a good idea to offer me some further employment, having already been with him in Warwickshire. Firstly though I had to prove my worth and as I was still allowed to hunt what we described as the “London Country,” a Meet at Wadesmill Park was organised for him to weigh up whether this was a good idea or not! This is just off the busy A10 that runs from London to Cambridge. Planning the hunting in this part of the world would have been a very good test for anybody but particularly for this young fellar who had just left college and wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. Between the meet and the dual carriageway was a large Convent called Poles Park which now happens to be a well known hotel named Hanbury Manor after Sampson Hanbury, one of the early Masters of the Puckeridge. To ensure a reasonable morning could be put together it was important for there to be good communication between the Puckeridge Hunt and those at the Convent. So, one afternoon before Mr Lambert’s intended visit, in I went to bat! No appointments made, I just managed to pluck up enough courage to arrive at the rather large front door and introduce myself to the first available nun who happened to be coming in from the garden! I said I was James Barclay from the Puckeridge Hunt and carefully asked if it was possible to meet Mother Superior. I was duly taken down miles of corridors to her office where I was given a chair and a cup of tea and made to feel most welcome. Mother Superior then proceeded to ask in a most courteous manner, what she could do to help. I explained that we were hoping to meet at the next door farm and could we possibly draw the Park with the obvious important considerations to them. Please remember this was one of my first experiences of this kind. I had been used to visiting the great sporting farmers that Hertfordshire and Warwickshire produced and now I was asking Mother Superior if we could hunt over land owned by the Convent! Well the smile said it all. In a soft Irish accent, she pronounced that she would only be too pleased for us to do so and how she held some wonderful memories of hunting in Ireland as a child!
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