The Newt’s estate manager and her connections to fox hunting

Luxury hotel business The Newt in Somerset – headline sponsor of the Chelsea Flower Show – has allowed the criminal Blackmore and Sparkford Vale (BSV) Hunt to meet on its grounds. Despite a campaign of more than 12,000 people urging The Newt to ban the hunt, the business still hasn’t cut ties with the notorious fox hunters. Could the hotel’s estate manager, Susan Seager, be the reason why?

The hotel’s carefully crafted PR image is based upon a supposed harmony with nature. “Everything is rooted in a deep respect for the land, the locality and all creatures living on it,” the business writes on its social media. Yet one of the company’s most senior employees is an unashamed supporter of a hunt that is renowned for its brutality to wildlife.

‘Happy hunting’

The Newt, which has the trading name of Emily Estate, is owned by South African billionaire Koos Bekker and his wife Karen Roos. The couple has employed Seager to manage the estate, and, we assume, to authorise and oversee the events taking place on the grounds (such as BSV meets). Seager is a keen horse rider who not only follows the BSV on social media, but who has trained with them too. Her posts on social media also suggest that she rides with the hunt.

She has a number of close connections with BSV director and long-time master of the hunt, Michael Felton, along with his wife Lucy, who is also a BSV master. Seager and Mike Felton sit together on the board of trustees for The Royal Bath & West of England Society, an organisation that runs agricultural events in the region.

Screenshot of Seager’s Instagram account before it was disabled. Despite having no posts of her own, it shows both Michael (mjfelton55) and Lucy Felton following Seager’s account.

Mike and Lucy Felton run Locketts Farm in Droop, and, unsurprisingly, these landowners provide their beloved hunt with much-needed land to hunt foxes. They also run their Hunting Clinic – attended at least twice by Seager – on this same premises. The Hunting Clinic teaches people the skills needed to ride with a hunt.

Seager has attended the Hunting Clinic at least twice, and each time she has left gushing online reviews for her friends Mike and Lucy. These words give away her passion for hunting. In October 2022, she concluded her review with “happy hunting”. And if we rewind a few years, her 2017 review says, “bring on the opening meet”, which likely refers to the BSV’s first meet of that season, and strongly indicates that Seager is a long-time supporter of the pack.


Locketts Farm Instagram
Sue Seager’s 2022 review of the Hunting Clinic at Locketts Farm


Locketts Farm facebook
Seager’s 2017 review of the Hunting Clinic


Old boys’ club

Protect the Wild had repeatedly contacted The Newt, asking it to cut ties with the BSV. The business ignored us until we announced that we would be protesting at the Chelsea Flower Show. It then responded with a craftily-worded reply, stating that:

“no hunt of any type is scheduled to take place at The Newt.”

Of course, this doesn’t indicate that the business has banned hunting – only that there is no hunt currently scheduled in the hotel’s diary.

We wanted more clarity, so we asked whether “hunts of any type are permanently and indefinitely banned from using, meeting, or accessing any land or properties owned by The Newt in Somerset”. Once again, we received no reply, so we can only assume that The Newt and the Emily Estate does not want to commit to such a ban.

Given Seager’s seniority within the Newt, the connections between her and the Feltons perhaps goes some way to explaining the very particular wording the Newt has made on the subject of banning hunting. One of the bloodsport’s most crucial functions is that it acts as an ‘old boys’ club’. It relies upon social connections and is run on personal favours – of which Seager seems only too happy to oblige. The Emily Estate now owns thousands of acres of farmland around The Newt, which will, no doubt, be much sought-after hunting land for the BSV, too.

‘Awful people’

We have already extensively covered the criminal and violent activities of the BSV in previous articles, while a study by Protect the Wild of the 2022/23 hunting season revealed that nearly a third of the BSV’s observed meets resulted in the pursuit and killing of a fox.

In January 2024, the hunt was suspended by hunting’s so-called ‘governing body’, the British Hound Sports Association (BHSA), after its hounds were caught tearing up a fox. North Dorset Hunt Saboteurs – who are frequently on the ground trying to prevent the BSV from murdering foxes – captured drone footage, showing the pack tearing up the terrified animal. The exposé was aired on Channel 4 News and caused nationwide outrage, forcing the BHSA to take action against its own.

When we posted on social media about Seager’s connections with the Feltons, North Dorset Sabs responded, saying:


North Dorset Sabs Twitter
North Dorset Sabs Twitter


Don’t be fooled

So, as The Newt continues to try to greenwash its image as a sustainable business with a deep respect for all creatures, don’t let it fool you. With an estate manager liaising – and perhaps riding – with the fox-killing Feltons, it is little wonder that the estate refuses to commit to an all-out ban on hunting packs.

Despite this, Protect the Wild will continue with our campaign to persuade The Newt to ban hunting meets. After all, the vast majority of the public who have visited and supported the hotel would be disgusted if they knew that the business associates itself with the barbaric bloodsport.

You can show your support by signing our petition and open letter to The Newt, urging it to finally do the right thing – to practice what it preaches and ban hunting for good.

And you can send a feedback form to the RHS asking that they reconsider allowing The Newt in Somerset to be their headline sponsor for the 2025 Chelsea Flower Show.