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Bill Terry's Archery Collection

Richard Head has often suggested to the Bowyers' Archery Committee that we should go and see Bill Terry's archery collection at his home near Sevenoaks. On August 29th we finally made it.

Bill Terry's name had been mentioned to me a number of times by various people: auctioneers, dealers, gun collectors. They all seemed to know that he was very keen on anything connected to archery, so it was with some expectation that I arrived at Bill's house. What I had not appreciated is that he had also built a fantastic club house and butt for the West Kent Archers, which is hidden in what must have been the bottom of his garden – his dedication to archery is considerable. He is also an extremely accomplished archer. But this still didn't prepare me for this brilliant, eclectic, awe-inspiring collection. It also didn't prepare me for the kindness and knowledge that Bill displayed whilst showing us round the collection.

We should have known an extraordinary morning was in front of us when Bill ushered us into his library and gave us a brief tour. He has nearly every book on archery ever published – old, new, British, American, field or target, rare or common – some in multiple copies. Just this one room was an archery collector's dream. This was only the start. Moving through the hall, adorned with prints, cartoons, paintings - all on an archery theme - we stepped into an Aladdin's Cave of bows, arrows, bow cases, arrow quivers, tabs, arm guards etc, but only if Aladdin had only one single collecting aim - archery. It is difficult to really explain just how impressive this one room is – the collection of longbows is literally breath-taking (see photo). It covers longbows from the Tudor to the present day, even having an extensive collection of the all metal longbows originally produced for use by the commandos in WW2. Add in cases and quivers, uniforms and medals, arrows and strings, even score cards, and you could easily lose yourself in this one room for the whole day. Bill even has two Bowyer Past Master's Badges in 9ct Gold – something for us to re-aspire to.

If this one room was the only exhibition gallery of this collection, it would be impressive. Suffice to say that there is an upstairs hallway, four further galleries, Bill's sitting room and an Annex, built out of his conservatory. All these rooms are crammed with fascinating, in some cases awe-inspiring, examples of bows and the rest of the ephemera that goes with the art of archery.

This collection is simply unmissable. Every Bowyer should endeavour to make a trip down to see it and we as a Company should ensure it receives our full support in the future.

Bill is also the most knowledgeable guide and as such is an essential part of the experience. He has also extended an invitation to anyone who would like to see the collection. He has also kindly offered his butts as a venue for a day's target shooting with our own bows – I feel a Company Championship looming.

A brilliant day – topped off with lunch in Bill's local hostelry. A classic Bowyers' mix of history and good companionship, with thanks to Richard Head for organising. I am delighted to say that Bill Terry seemed to enjoy the day as much as we did.

If anyone else in the Company is indeed interested in visiting Bill's collection, do please make contact with our Archery Chairman, Tony Kench.

Myles Archibald

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