The popular Earl of Mar fell to his death in April of 1975. He has largely been forgotten now, but his strange hobby still makes for an interesting read. Especially as reported by The Milwaukee Journal
An ancestral Earl of Mar
“Pigeon kicking is a sport that, like the Earl’s family, goes back to antiquity. A true aficionado does not simply stroll up to a pigeon and aim his boot in its direction. If he missed he could find himself flat on his back and helpless to counter a riposte from the bird.
A long period of training is required to develop the leg muscles and bodily reflexes. As any member of the House of Lords can tell you, it’s best to start with something inanimate; a badminton shuttlecock for instance. Lord Featherstonehaugh, whose family was big in guano, spent every afternoon from 1909 to 1927 having Lady Featherstonehaugh hit shuttlecocks towards him so he could practice kicking them back.
Through such practice His Lordship developed a right leg 8 inches longer than the left.
One factor that has kept pigeon kicking a minority interest is the question of exactly what to wear. Some sportsmen sally forth in red riding coats and bowlers, others prefer Harris tweed and umbrellas. The feminine auxiliary generally wears gardening hats, heavy mittens and a determined expression.
Most followers of this sport tend to keep quiet about it, preferring to let common folk remain in ignorance of this aristocratic hobby. The Earl of Mar was more forthcoming and listed his recreation in “Who’s Who” as kicking pigeons.
The report into his death did not go into details on how he managed to fall from his fifth floor apartment but those who know how annoying a pigeon strutting along a ledge can be will draw their own conclusions.