Winans was an integral member of the United Kingdom’s National Rifle Association, founded in 1859 for the "promotion of marksmanship in the interests of the Defense of Realm and permanence of the Volunteer Forces, Navy military and Air” (National Rifle Association’s Royal Charter, 1894). Early competitions were held on Wimbledon Common, as shown in the present work, where the founders of the association, Earl Spencer and the Duke of Cambridge, held manorial rights. Queen Victoria fired the first shot of the inaugural competition in July 1860, which led to Annual Meetings that have drawn men and women every year (except during the World Wars). In 1878, journalist Edward Walford wrote "these annual gatherings are attended by the élite of fashion, and always include a large number of ladies, who generally evince the greatest interest in the target practice of the various competitors, whether it be for the honor of carrying off the Elcho Shield, the Queen's or the Prince of Wales's Prize, or the shield shot for by our great Public Schools, or the Annual Rifle Match between the Houses of Lords and Commons" (Edward Walford, 'Putney', Old and New London, vol. 6, London, 1878, p. 489-503).
As London’s population continued to swell and push the boundaries of the city, the National Rifle Association felt increasing need to find an alternative site for the yearly events. The last Annual Meeting to be held on Wimbledon Common was in 1889, suggesting that the present work, dated 1888, was Blinks’ tribute to the land. By 1890, the Association moved to Bisley, Surrey, where the present work was once located and where the Association remains headquartered today.
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