Thursday 29th June. 2.00 PM – Petworth, West Sussex. The first of two days away from studio down in the park at Petworth House filming a riding sequences with Elizabeth and Raleigh.
A rare treat today as we’re off on location and the weather is wonderful, which is all the more important as we are filming exteriors of a Royal riding party. This is a chance for Elizabeth and Raleigh to catch a private moment together, a brief instant away from court where the Queen can be out of earshot of the servants and courtiers who otherwise always surround her.
Elizabeth was very fond of getting out into the country particularly for hunting. We are simply concentrating on riding but we might imagine such quiet moments were often found in a hunting context. For the Elizabethans nature was still very much ‘red in tooth and claw’ and blood sports were hugely popular. One of the preferred sports of gentlemen was hunting-particularly for Stag, Roe and Buck deer, hare, badger, otter, boar, fox and even goat. For the Queen and ladies, Stag hunting was preferred as boar hunting was very dangerous and other animals too lowly to hunt. Hunting took place from horseback or on foot, the deer being chased through prepared runs by beaters. The huntsmen/women waited for the deer to be flushed out and shot as they darted by. Birds were also hunted, in two different ways. One was the ancient and rather tricky sport of falconry in which trained falcons were sent after the prey. However, guns were increasingly used instead. Rather more sedate was the sport of fishing, enjoyed by many who found hunting too barbarous or expensive and particularly popular with women. All these sports might be enjoyed by women as well as men. Ordinary people did not generally hunt or fish for sport. Indeed, they were not allowed to do so. The rights of hunting and fishing were normally reserved for landowners, although poaching was still common as a means of obtaining extra food.
Today however, whatever the putative reason Elizabeth and Raleigh are riding out for, what they are really hunting is a quiet moment together.