Cover Story

This week, in a remote corner of Shakespeare Country, an intrepid team gathered to shoot the Compton series’ paperback jackets. The brief was straightforward: bottoms, horses, countryside, good spirits, laughter, dogs and more bottoms.

Hero of the hour was dashing photographer, Hugh Dickens, the most charming man you’ll see adjusting an aperture in a lifetime, and – despite being more accustomed to snapping polo ponies passing at speed in the glamorous surroundings of Cirencester Park – endlessly patient.

Art director Jessie Price, who had gamely forfeited the more usual London photography studio for arctic wind and mud, ensured everything was perfect to set the scene: good-looking people, check; horses, check; dogs, check; bright sunshine, check.

Impossibly gorgeous event riders Claire Deuten and Spencer Sturmey sauntered, canoodled, hacked, quaffed and gossiped like mad in the name of art. They were ably assisted by Claire’s superstar coloured stallion Tonto, rangy grey Captain and beautiful powerhouse Lottie. Keeping everybody under close watch was Toots the Sprocker, who combined starring on camera with trotting lovingly back and forth to feed her three-week-old litter in the house. It was a real family affair.

I can’t wait to reveal the finished result, which the brilliant Jessie is currently weaving magically into life as the paperback jacket for The Country Set, but for now here are a few edited highlights of the day:

7a The talent1 bottom briefing2 bum shot3 Bum shots again4 Ed and OH5 horse kiss6 Lottie and Toots7 muddy field work8 Dog opinion9 show swapping10 Watching the horsebox action12 Toots pep ralk13 Just ask a Spaniel14 here is proof

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