Person of the month: Agathos Daniel Pegg

Historic photo of the gamekeeper at Calke Abbey

Every month, we’re stepping back in time to meet characters from Calke’s past. Join us on this journey as we discover the people who lived and worked on the estate, and then meet their modern-day equivalents who help to keep Calke alive.

We’d like you to meet…

Agathos Daniel Pegg, Head Gamekeeper

Agathos Pegg was born in 1877 at Standley's Barn, Ticknall, under the keeper's house. His Grandfather, William Pegg, was living in Middle Lodge on the Calke Estate at the time. At 26, Ag married Mary Ann Houghton of Blanch Croft, Melbourne, at St. Mary’s Gate Baptist Chapel in Derby. In 1903 the couple had a son called Augustus, who married Lucy in 1927.

The Pegg family lived at Middle Lodge on the Calke Estate for many years while Ag served as gamekeeper to Sir Vauncey Harpur Crewe. Agathos Pegg was the fourth generation of his family to live at Middle Lodge as gamekeeper to the family, and by this point, no one could remember a time when the Peggs hadn’t lived there!

Agathos and his family are recorded in the 1911, 1925 and 1941 censuses at Middle Lodge – in 1911, they even had a lodger, Frederick Charles, who is listed as an ‘assistant keeper’. In the 1941 census, Agathos was listed as gamekeeper to Mrs Mosley, continuing his role as head gamekeeper for a while after Sir Vauncey’s death. Ag never retired from Calke; he and Mary both remained at Middle Lodge until they died in 1950.

A day in the life of Ag Pegg

What was it like to be a gamekeeper at Calke Abbey? Thanks to interviews with his daughter-in-law, Lucy, we know a little about Ag’s day-to-day work at Calke.

Ag’s day started early – around 4.30am! His first job was to inspect the traps before breakfast, then feed the poultry and identify various jobs that needed doing. The pheasant food was prepared at home with much care, sometimes with help from the ‘underkeeper’, who also kept the yards clean.

Ag Pegg was well respected by the other keepers. When they arrived at work at 6am, Ag would distribute the jobs around the estate – he was stern and had high standards, but was kind and generous too, and had a strong bond with Sir Vauncey Harpur Crewe. Both men were a good shot and Ag was known for breeding game cocks, which he exhibited and judged.

Gamekeepers at Calke Abbey
Historic photo of Calke Abbey in Derbyshire
Gamekeepers at Calke Abbey

Looking after the wildlife

With a huge knowledge and passion for wildlife, Ag managed the parkland and wild deer herds at Calke, focusing on wildlife while the other keepers did the rest of the jobs around the estate.

The Harpur Crewes were known for their secluded ways, and part of Ag’s job as head gamekeeper was to prevent anyone coming onto the estate, making sure it was private and secluded. You may have heard Calke referred to as the ‘forbidden’ estate for this reason!

A modern-day gamekeeper

Bill Cove, Countryside Manager

Bill has been associated with the Calke Estate for 46 years. Like Ag, he manages the parkland and wild deer herd, as well as Calke’s flock of rare-breed Portland sheep. Bill is very knowledgeable and passionate about all the wildlife on the estate.

Bill leads a Deer Park walk at Calke Abbey.
Countryside Manager Bill Cove at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire
Bill leads a Deer Park walk at Calke Abbey.

Bill manages a team of rangers, who carry out maintenance, landscape and forestry work across the estate. This important conservation work helps to keep Calke’s countryside and wildlife safe and protected. 

Unlike Ag, Bill welcomes thousands of visitors to Calke every year, and loves to share his passion for Calke with others. If you see him around the estate, give him a wave!