Memories Take Flight: Warpool Court Hotel’s Peter Trier Focuses on Falconry
“A holiday is all about making memories that last a lifetime,” says Warpool Court Hotel proprietor Peter Trier.
One of the most impressive ways to do that in Pembrokeshire is to arrange a visit to family friendly West Wales Falconry. A family business started in 2017, everyone helps in the day-to-day operations, including the family’s two young children and the grandparents.
Whether you just want a quick glimpse of the birds or you’d like to spend more time with them, there are plenty of options. From 90 minute or 3-hour sessions to a full day from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., you determine how much time and which species of birds of prey you would like to get up close to. The experience is hands on and you’ll witness the birds’ speed and agility as they fly. You’ll handle eagles, owls, and hawks or more unusual birds such as herons and hornbills.
Because the birds have been raised and trained at the Falconry, they enjoy personal interaction. They’ve even been trained for television and film appearances.
So you can focus on the experience and have memories to treasure, West Wales Falconry captures the moments in pictures for you.
Heading back to Warpool Court Hotel, plan a stop at Pant Mawr Farmhouse Cheeses. In the foothills of the Preseli Mountains on a small traditional Welsh hill farm, Pant Mawr Cheeses are developed using locally produced milk. If you’re vegetarian, you’ll want to know that the cheese uses vegetarian rennet. The farm shop offers a selection of other locally produced products as well.
After a memorable day, you can return to Warpool Court Hotel and top it off with a mouth-watering dessert at the Sea View Restaurant.
Background of Falconry in History
In some areas of the world, falconry is as important as a sport today as it was when it was established about 4,000 years ago. It originated somewhere between the Near and Far East. Assyrian art from the 7th century BC is believed to be one of the first depictions of using birds of prey for hunting. Chinese references are from 680 BC and Japanese references are of the early 7th century BC. An Arabic record details the story of a Persian king who instructed his men to capture a wild falcon after witnessing the beauty of its flight.
Europe was introduced to falconry as trade routes grew. From the 6th to 17th centuries, falconry expanded to almost all social classes, including to clergy and even nuns, who would bring their falcons into religious services.
- Considered a founder of ornithology, Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, Holy Roman Emperor, king of Sicily and Jerusalem, authored, “De Arte Venandi cum Avibus” (The Art of Falconry), one of the first scientific works on the anatomy of birds.
- At one time, falcons were valued more than their weight in gold: In the late 14th century, Ottoman Sultan Beyazid rejected an offer of 200,000 gold ducats for ransom for 12 white gyrfalcons.
- Birds were also used as offerings of peace: Norway’s king sent grey and white gyrfalcons to Edward I (1276). Czar Ivan IV and Queen Mary I also exchanged a gyrfalcon.
- One historian recorded that Edward III had 30 falconers with him when he invaded France.
- In the 14th century, a bishop excommunicated thieves who stole his falcons from the church cloister.
- By ancient tradition, the king of England is presented with a falcon at the time of his coronation. The office of royal falconer, called the Master of the Mews, still exists today.
- The first laws aimed at protecting birds of prey included one year’s imprisonment for destroying a falcon’s eggs and your eyes being poked out for poaching a falcon from the wild.
- In mediaeval times through to the early 1900s, the small Dutch village of Valkenswaard was an important spot along raptor migration routes where the birds were captured. Feudal lords and kings would visit to bid on captured birds in wild auctions.
- According to the law of Hywel Dda, the falconer (hebogydd) or chief falconer (penhebogydd) enjoyed privileged status in the court of a Welsh king. He was named either fourth or fifth in the list of the officers of the court, above or below the court justice and given perks with regard to his horse, food and drink and his place at the table.
Falcons were initially used by humans to help them catch food, with their reward being a small percentage of the meat. Birds were also informally tied to social status, with larger birds kept by people who could afford the upkeep and investment of time. ‘The Boke of St Albans’ printed in 1486 contains an historic list of birds ranked according to social status:
Social Rank & Appropriate Bird
- Emperor: Golden Eagle, Vulture, & Merlin
- King: Gyrfalcon (male & female)
- Prince: Female Peregrine
- Duke: Rock Falcon (subspecies of the Peregrine)
- Earl: Peregrine
- Baron: Male peregrine
- Knight: Saker
- Squire: Lanner Falcon
- Lady: Female Merlin
- Yeoman: Goshawk or Hobby
- Priest: Female Sparrowhawk
- Holywater clerk: Male Sparrowhawk
- Knaves, Servants, Children: Old World Kestrel