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(" Shotley ") 




3 9090 014 537 076 

Webster Family Library of Veterinary Medicine 

Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at 

Tufts University 

200 Westboro Road 

North Grafton, MA 01536 






Author of The English Turf, The Complete Foxhunter, The New Book 
of the Horse, &c. 

London : 


Windsor House, Bream's Buildings, E.C.4. 




To John C. Straker, Master of the Tynedale 
since 1883; John E. Rogerson, Master of the North 
Durham since 1888; and Lewis Priestman, Master 
of the Braes of Derwent since 1890, who between 
them have held the Masterships of three adjoining 
Countries for a period of just over a century, and with 
whose hounds the author has seen much good sport. 


In the following pages the author has attempted a double 
task : he has gathered from the experience of manj years 
recollections of runs with packs of hounds whose names are 
familiar to all, and he has complied with the wishes of friends 
in the North of England and elsewhere in giving particulars of 
certain packs which have hitherto been neglected by fox-hunting 
historians. He has not aimed in all these cases at giving the 
details which should be presented in every complete history 
of a hunt, but has relied rather on his own personal knowledge 
of countries with which he can claim to be fairly well 
acquainted . 

Some of the runs belong to recent days, others to hunting 
history. Three great runs, which may rightly be called 
historical, took place more than fifty years ago, and the author's 
descriptions of them have since been confirmed and corroborated 
in the Field by others who had been present. 

East Molesey, 
Sejptember, 1922. 


Chapter. Page. 

I. The Nobth Durham Countey ... ... ... 1 

II. The Braes of Derwent Country ... ... 47 

III. The Haydon Country ... ... ... ... 119 

IV. The Tynedale Country ... ... ... ... 127 

V. The Morpeth Country ... ... ... . . 163 

VI. Zetland Hunt 170 

VII. Some Yorkshire and Western Midland Hunts 177 
VIII. Long Points and the Heythrop ... ... 196 

IX. The Conditions of Hunting ... ... ... 226 

X. War Time and After ... ... ... ... 24<> 





The North Durham Country. 

THERE ARE TWO HUNTS in the north of England 
which 5 owing probably in some degree to their remote- 
ness, and perhaps in a larger degree to their insignificance, have 
up to the present received comparatively no treatment at the 
hands of the hunting historian. Probably some of my readers 
w^ill pull up short at the word " insignificance," and therefore 
I must explain that I only use the word in a comparative 
sense, for the two hunts — the Braes of Derwent and the North 
Durham — are not in the least insignificant as regards the sport 
they show, the attention they attract, the fields they draw, 
and so forth ; but being small countries, and two days a week 
establishments, they are not exactly on a plane with their 
neighbours — the Tynedale on the north and the Zetland to 
the south. 

The only history of these two packs that I have seen was 
a short condensed account which appeared in a work called 
the Foxhminds of Great Britain and Ireland, published in 
1906, and which gave no more than a bare statement of facts. 
Very little space for each pack was allowed, and the details 
given therein can be considerably added to, though I must at 
the outset admit that certain information which I have tried 
to obtain has been of so vague a character that little reliance 
can bs placed in it. At the same time I may state that I 
have known both countries for a great number of years, and 
have never really lost touch with sport they have had, while 
I have collected a certain amount of notes which I can use. 
But I must make it clearly understood that I am not going 
to adhere closely to chronological order, that certain periods 


of the life of these hunts must be briefly dismissed for want of 
information, and that most will be made of the facts which 
have actually come under my personal observation. In fact 
I am not going to attempt a history, but rather to describe 
the style of hunting which obtains in these two hunts, and 
afterwards to continue with personal experiences of some other 

And first I must say something about the two particular 
countries for the benefit of those who are strangers 
to the district, and many of whom are under the 
imjDression that in the north all the hunting takes 
place among the collieries, and that foxes when dug 
out are black from coal dust. There are, as a matter 
of fact, collieries within the confines of these two hunts, a 
good number in the North Durham and a few in the Braes of 
Derwent; but collieries do not interfere with hunting any- 
thing like so much as might be thoixght by those who have 
not hunted in their vicinity, and there are many Midland 
hunts which have a colliery district, and do not find that their 
sport suffers therefrom. In the county of Durham, and also 
in Northumberland, the coalfield lies near the sea, and the 
further west one goes in either county the further one gets 
away from the coal district. In South Northumberland the 
coalfield extends some fifteen miles from the ccast, going 
inland, and a few miles further in parts of Durham. Each 
of the two hunts which have been named has a colliery 
distrioti on its eastern side, and to the west is open 
country, which is not. only free from collieries, but 
so wild and tiiinly populated as to form a very fine 
hunting area. The trouble is that in either hunt the 
wild country is not very large, and in the Durham hunt it 
has contracted very greatly since I first began to hunt. In the 
sixties of last century there was not, for example, any colliery 
in the Lanchester Valley, while mining operations were just 
being commenced in the Dearness Valley, which is separated 
from the Lanchester Valley by a formidable line of hills. The 
collieries between Brancepeth and Durham were also non- 
existent in those days, while the coal mines in the Bumhope 
and liolmside district were probably not a tenth part of their 
present size. But west of the road from Lanchester to Tow 


Law there never have beeu any collieries, and here the country 
remains just as it was half a century ago, with hardly a new 
cottage, and no increase of population whatever. Indeed, 
the country has only one very small village and two tiny 
hamlets in its area, and yet it extends seven miles from Lan- 
chester to the moors, and seven miles, measuring crossways, 
from Rowley station to Tow Law. There is only one church 
(Satley, the village which has been meintioned) and scattered 
farmhouses, and as long as foxes keep within the boundaries 
of the district they can hardly be headed, for the land is all 
grass, and one can at times cross it from Rowley to Tow Law 
without seeing a soul in the fields in winter months. 

Most of this country is a high-lying plain, with little valleys 
here and there, and less than a mile west of Lanchester you 
are on the high ground, and the folds of the hills are insigni- 
ficant, which means that as a rule the galloping is sound, with 
not too many steep hills to climb. The coverts, too, are small 
and scattered, and for the most part easily drawn. There were 
uo big woods until Lord Bute's— so generally called, but now 
the property of the successors of Lord Ninian Criohtcn- 
Stuart. — axe reached, a,nd these lie cloae to Rowley station 
at the extreme north-western corner of the hunt. (During 
the War a great portion of these plantations were cut down.) 
Going westward from Lanchester the first covert reached is 
Humber Hill, a gorse — or whin, as it is called in th.e 
north — of about tem acres, situated on an open hillside. 
Here foxes are always bred, and here they are always 
found all through the season, and a, find here is, as a 
rule, a pretty sight, for the fox is generally viewed by all the 
field. A mile further west comes the Woodlands estate, where 
many good horses, including Scot Free, winner of the Two 
Thousand, were bred in the eighties. There are many coverts 
on the estate, and the late owner, Mr. W. B. Van Haans- 
bergen, though not hunting himself, was a good preserver of 
foxes, who ent.ertained the hunt, to breakfast at veiry frequent 
intervals. The Woodlands converts' are beautifully situated, 
but they have become very open at the bottom of late years, 
and hounds can go through them when running almost as 
fast as they can travel in the open. The Sawrm'll Wood, 
Sheepwalks whin, and Rippon Burn are the best of 



th€isie coverts, and usually two or three litters of foxes 
are bred here. But. it is not an easy matter when a fox 
is found hereabouts to know exactly which covert he belongs 
to, for there is a rough field on the adjoining Colepike estate 
in which foxes frequently lie, and just beyond this field there 
is a young plantation on the Broadwood estate wiiich is now 
an almost certain find. Broadwood was formerly part of Wood- 
lands, but the property was divided in 1872, and the present 
owner of Broadwood, Mr. Penman, is also a great host of the 
hunt and a fine preserver, whose family all follow hounds. 
In fact, the Woodlands-Broadwood neighbourhood is abso- 
lutely the best part of the hunt, for the land is all grass, fo'xes 
are numerous, and whichever way they go there is the chance 
of a gallop. Half a mile north of Broadwood is Browney 
Bank, a cross roads with two cottages, and in the days of the 
old Durham County hounds this was the fixture nearly every 
Monday, for besides the Woodlands coverts it commanded 
those OiU the Colepike e&tate, which are smaller, but very good. 
The best of these at the present day are the Triangle and 
Stobilee, the first-named a five-acre plantation, grown up 
with gorse and undergrowth, and terribly thick, and Stobilee, 
a twenty-acre •wood, with very good lying in places. All 
the coverts which have been mentioned are within a mile of 
Browney Bank, but are smsdl in size, except the open 
Sawmill Wood, and the upshot is that the average fox found 
in any one of them, though he may run through several of 
the others, is not long in quitting the district. 

And apropos the Sawmill Wood, there was for many 
seasons one particular corner of it — next the Woodlands Five 
Lane Ends — to which foxes were very partial, the lying being 
good and rabbits numerous. At the time in question the 
late Mr. Anthony Maynard was Master of the North Durham, 
and in 1879 he engaged a new second whipper-in, this being 
Richard Freeman, who was aftei"wards huntsman of the pack 
for five and twenty years, and who is an uncle of the Pytchley 
and the late Zetland huntsman. Hounds met at Browney 
Bank and drew the Sawmill Wood, and Freeman was told 
to gallop up the lane to the Five Lane Ends, and 
halloa if a fox left the covert. And quite lately he 
told the story at a North Diirham puppy show. " It 


v/as my first day with the pack," he said, " and I 
knew nothing about the country, but was told to go to the 
end of the wood (outside) and let eiveryone know if I saw a 
fox. As I reached the corner I saw a brace, and I began 
halloaing, and I halloaed while eighteen crossed the lane, but 
hounds never came, for they were away on the other side 
with another, and it took me an hour to find them." 

So much for the Sawmill Wood, but I may add that when 
I was a boy living at Woodlands in the sixties, during the 
joint mastership of Mr. John Henderson, M.P., and Mr. John 
Harvey, we once had so many litters at Woodlands that we 
dug out three of them, and I took them to the kennels at 
Sedgefield for turning out in a part of the country where foxes 
were not so numerous. I shall never forget the drive, for I 
was alone in a Whitechapel dogcart, and the cubs, which 
were tied up in sacks, were never still for a moment, but kept 
up a perpetual heaving against my legs. It must be under- 
stood that in the 'sixties the North and South Durham packs, 
as now constituted, were one and the same pack, with a kennel 
at Sedgefield for their southern country, and a kennel at Elvet 
Moor (Farewell Hall) for their northern country. And 
curiously enough the new kennels which Mr. Rogerson built 
on the Mount Oswald estate some fifteen years ago are 
only separated by a country lane from the old Elvet Moor 
kennels, discarded forty years ago. The house is now occupied 
by Mr. Rogerson's kennel huntsman. 

Going back to the physical features of the North Durham 
country, it should be explained that there is a country lane, 
four miles long and called " Long Edge," between Browney 
Bank and Rowley Station, and hounds cross it often half a 
dozen times a day, for it bisects the best of the country. It 
also bisects the Woodlands estate, the most westerly coverti of 
which is Sheepwalks, the starting place of many fine hunts 
some years ago, but now too thin to hold any but an occasional 
fox, though the adjacent whin covert is an almost sure find. 
Of Sheepwalks I have a curious recollection which may not be 
out of place here, though it is entirely personal. Well, then, 
it must be understood that one afternoon in the winter, during 
l^Ir. Maynard's mastership, I was riding quietly between the 
Derwent Valley and Rowley on my way to Broomshields, 


where I was staying. Just below the old kennels at Castleside 
a fox crossed the road, and shortly afterwards eleven couples 
of hounds. I was riding a horse I intended to hunt with the 
Durham on the following day, but the temptation was great, 
so I followed on. Scent was holding, and hounds ran over 
the North Durham boundary and went to Sheepwalks, where 
there was a main earth. I knew the locality of this earth, 
went to it, and found about two couples of hounds marking. 
The earth was in the heart of the wood, and I tried to entice 
the hounds away, but what really moved them was the sound 
of their companions giving tongue. I quickly left the wood, 
and hounds ran on to Broomshieldsi, the very place I was going 
to, and there the second fox got to ground. What had hap- 
pened was that a fresh fox had jumped up in Sheepwalks 
and taken a majo'rity of the eleven couples on. The hounds 
were the Braes of Derwent, of which the late Colonel Cowen 
was then Master, but the curious part of the thing was that 
I never saw a single rider or a hunt servant, and the fact 
is hounds had slipped their field several miles from where they 
crossed my path. At Broomshields we succeeded in coaxing 
most of the hounds into the stable yard, and there they 
remained until a hunt servant arrived from Blaydon Bum the 
next morning. This hunt, as far as I saw it, had a seven-mile 
point, but I have quite forgotten what hounds had done before 
I saw them (except the fact that they had come several miles), 
though Colonel Cowen told me all about it. the neixt time I saw 

Sheepwalks, mentioned as the starting place of many 
good hunts, was more than half a century ago the best 
covert in its own particular district, and was in high repute 
when Mr. Russell had a pack of foxhounds at Brancepeth 
Castle {circa 1850) and for some years later. After a time, 
however, a long defunct gorse called the Freehold, nearly a 
mile to the east of Sheepwalks, used to catch up all the foxes 
of the district. The Freehold is now the grass field to the 
north-east of the most easterly entrance to the Woodlands on 
Long Edge lane, and there is still a well-known breeding earth 
among trees at one corner of it. llippon Burn followed the 
Freehold as the best covert of the district, and for many years 
hounds used to be taken there direct from the Browney Bank 


meets. The covert is a larch plantation, which at one time 
had heather and whin all through it, and as long as these 
lasted it was a certain find. And here I may remark that all 
through the best part of the North Durham country larch 
plantations with a heather bottom form the best coverts ; but 
as the trees grow big the heather dies away, and thus it restdts 
that the lying gradually disappears. When a piece ol land is 
newly planted with larch in this particular country, or when 
an old plantation from which the timber has been cleared is 
replanted, it takes five or six years for the bottom to become 
thick. But it does so' automatically, and when once foxes 
have realised that there is good, quiet lying in the young 
plantations they seem to prefer them to any other sort of lying. 
Gorse, like heather, is natural to the countries I am writing 
about, and the best coverts are often made by a combination 
of the two plants v/ith a plentiful sheltering of young tre'cs. I 
may mention also' that spruce and common Scottish fir are 
planted with the larch as a protection to the latter, and the 
young spruce of eight to fifteen years old often fo'rm a most 
impenetrable thicket. Indeed, though foxes as a rule breed 
underground in the North, one occasionally knows of litters 
which have been reared in the open, and notably in the Tower 
Wood at Greencroft^ — sometime during the 'eighties — a vixen 
had her cubs resting on the broad, interlaced branches of two 
spruce trees at a height of about 4ft. from the ground. 

Young plantations are, as a matter of course, well fenced, 
and for months at a time no one but a gamekeeper — or perhaps 
a poacher — will ever be inside the fence. But as the trees 
grow, and grass takes the place of heather, it is, except when 
there is very strict game preserving, the custom to allow the 
neighbouring farmer to pasture young stock in these planta- 
tions, and this it is that causes a constant change ol covert 
on the part of the foxes, for it must be understood that the 
growing of larch is one of the industries of the district, and 
nearly all the trees come down when they are big enough to 
be sold for pit props. I have mentioned these facts about the 
coverts because there is so much difference between the coverts 
of the northern and southern hunting countries. The oak 
copse with a hazel bottom is unknown in the counties of 
Durham and Northumberland, for though there is plenty of 


oak there is practically no hazel. In fact, in such oak woods 
as there are bracken takes the place of hazel, and though this 
forms a fine autumn covert, and stands up well until there is 
fairly severe frost, it has a strong smell of its own, and is about 
the worst scenting ground I ever knew, and particularly 
harmful at cubhunting time, for there are patches of it ex- 
tending over many acres, often just where cubs have been bred. 
The Sawmill Wood, which lies between Long Edge lane and 
Rippon Burn, contains a considerable amount of old beech and 
some magnificent spruce, some of which are nearly 100ft. high. 
It is, in fact, a real wood, and not a larch plantation except 
in one or two corners ; but it is overrun with bracken, and 
even when I was a boy the Durham County huntsman used tc 
complain about it. "If you could rid yon Sawmill Wood of the 
bracken I should kill a vast more foxes," he used to say, and 
most certainly the bracken is a great drawback every autumn 
until it is well laid by frost or snow, or both. As Rippon Burn 
began to decline the north-west corner, about 10 acres, of the 
Sawmill Wood took its place, and it was from this corner that 
Richard Freeman viewed the eighteen foxesi over the road. 

North of the Woodlands coverts is the Knitsley Valley, 
with a stream running through it which joins the Browney at 
Lanchester, four miles away. This Knitsley Valley has one 
long, straggling covert named Howens Gill, of which the 
extreme noitherly end is the Braes of Derwent country, 
and both packs draw the gill by arrangement. There are 
alwa5'^s foxes in some part of it but it is the worst covert in 
either hunt to get away from, for it consists of two hanging 
woods, each on a steep hillside, and foxes run up and down 
the full length of it and cross to the other side and repeat 
the same game. There is too much " up the banks and dov.'n 
the banks " for a riding field, and possibly Surtees had Howens 
Gill in his mind when he wrote the conversation between Sir 
Moses and Cuddy Flintoff, on the return of the former from 
a day of up and down the banks. But if Howens Gill is 
rather a heartbreaking place— and bad scenting ground to 
boot — it has a wonderful spur which used to be called Beggar- 
side, but is now known as the Oak Gill. This is only a little 
place in acreage, but of considerable length, and with good dry 
lying to the south, and it has been the starting point of two 


very notable hunts in recent years. In one of these Mr. 
Rogerson's hounds made their longest point on record, going 
right across the Braes of Derwent country into that of the 
Ilaydon, and finishing five-and-twenty miles from the kennels 
at Mount Oswald. No doubt there was at least one change of 
foxes, but it was a singularly fine hunt, and after leaving 
Muggleswick (in the Braes of Derwent country) hounds never 
touched a covert until they reached Espershields, quite near 
the town of Blanchland. They probably changed foxes at 
Muggleswick, where the earths were open; but there was no 
stop, and, as a matter of fact, they entered the covert near 
Combe Bridges, went close to the earths, and came into the 
open near the Vicarage; then, going up the grass valley of 
the Derwent toi Edmondbyers, and thence on to Espershields, 
and Bog Hall, in the Ilaydon country, where they were 
stopped. The other big hunt from the Oak Gill was faster 
and not so long. It began with hounds going westwards to 
Castleside, where they turned abruptly, and were lost tem- 
porarily by most of the field. They ran, however, down the 
Knitsley Valley to Woodla.nds, thence to Browney Ba.nk, and 
Bromshields, skirted Tow Law, and turning right-handed 
came back to Broadwood, where the fox was killed in the open. 
The time was one hour and ten minutes, twelve miles were 
covered, and there was a seven-mile point in it, while there was 
only one slight check at Browney Bank, and hounds recovered 
the line without being cast. 

When hounds meet at Rowley station, which is the furthest 
meet from the kennels, they draw the Whitehall Plantation, 
and then Lord Bute's, and these are the most northerly coverts 
of the hunt, and fairly well foxed, though the raw material 
is not so much in evidence as it once was, owing to the fact 
that stone quarrying on a considerable scale is being carried 
on in the North Plantation — one of three plantations which 
form a chain of woods. For many years hounds used to meet 
at the comer of the North Plantation, nearly two miles from 
the present meeting place, and with great consistency foxes 
used to break over Eliza Farm and go down into the best 
country. Even now they prefer this line, but the quarrying 
has altered their habits, and they cannot be relied upon as 
they once could. At one time foxes used to run to Lord 


Bute's from all parts of the hunt, and I remember one warm 
day very late in the sesison, during Mr. Maynard's mastership, 
when hounds worked a line very slowly from Rackwoodside, 
taking nearly an hour and a half to cover a distance which 
I saw Mr. Rogerson's hounds cover in thirty-five minutes three 
of four years ago. It was a bit of patient and very fine 
hound work, and as it was almost the last day of the season 
the Master was very anxious to kill the fox. He actually 
rode into the covert to see if an earth he knew of was closed, 
and, finding it was, he came back to the customary corner, 
where the field was drawn up. Luncheon was tackled, men 
got off their horses and lounged about in warm sunshine, and 
from the depths of the w^ood the occasional note of a hound 
was heard. Time passed, and the notes grew fewer. Many 
of the field departed, but the Master was still anxious, and 
at length at his request I went with the late Mr. Alan Green- 
well (then secretary of the hunt) to look for hounds and 
huntsman. It is a big wood with many rides, and we sea^rched 
for quite a quarter of an hour for now there was no sound at 
all. At length, in the heart of the wood, we suddenly dropped 
on a veritable tableau. Hounds were basking in the sun in 
an open space. The huntsman's horse was fastened to a tree 
by its bridle, and the huntsman himself was fast asleep with 
his back against the trunk of the tree, and a suspicious- looking 
bottle lying on the grass beside him. We woke him up, and 
did not give him away at the time; but after Mr. Maynard 
had been obliged to make a change the story leaked out. The 
huntsman in question is no longer living, and there is no need 
to mention his name. He could hunt a fox well, but latterly 
his sobriety was not to be relied upon. It was this same hunts- 
man, by the way, that was the cause of an oft-told story con- 
cerning Mr. Maynard — as great an enthusiast as ever breathed. 
Hounds had found at Bumhopeside, and ran very nicely to 
the top of Charlaw Fell, where they checked. The huntsman 
came up and cast them, where there was a most formidable 
fence, close to a gate. Hounds went through the fence; the 
huntsman rede to the gate, found it locked, and with the eyes 
of his Master and the field upon him rode at the fence, which 
which was really something quite out of the ordinary. He 
went at it hard enough, and the thorns closed behind him and 


his horse just as the gate had been takeu off its hinges. As 
the field came through (the fence was high enough to pi-event 
one seeing what had taken place) they saw the huntsman laid 
out flat on his back, hounds casting themselves over the field, 
and the horse going away for all he was worth. The Master 
was first to reach the fallen huntsman, and, after looking 
at him for a moment, he turned round and said, " We must 
all go home. Poor Henry's dead. Poor Henry " (he went 
on), " he was a gallant fellow but he'll never hunt again." 
And then, as he suddenly noticed that hounds had hit off the 
line, his voice changed to a scream as he yelled, " For'ard 
on ! For'ard on ! " Henry by this time was sitting up and 
taking notice (he was not hurt at all, only a little dazed), 
and probably Mr. Maynard, whose eyes were everywhere, had 
taken in the situation; but the " For'ard on ! " on the top of 
the soliloquy was undeniably funny. During the war Lord 
Bute's plantations were cut down, but foxes are still to be 
found in the odd bits of covert Vv'hich are left. 

South-west of Lord Bute's the North Durham country is 
near the moors and very wild but the moors hereabouts are 
what shooting men call " low moors," and, though undulating, 
are not particularly steep. And what from a hunting point of 
view is most important, foxes seldom go on to the moors, pro- 
bably because they do not like travelling among heather. 
There is a big and good covert named Catback, separated from 
the open country by a strip of heather, and this is frequently 
drawn; but though almost surrounded by heather, it stands 
at the head of a grass valley, and foxes found therein generally 
go down the valley, or cross the strip of heather, and reach 
the regular country, which hereabouts consists of large 
pastures of rough grass which are never ploughed, and which 
carry a rare scent even in the driest weather. Down the valley 
I mentioned just now is Foresters Lodge, a fairly large country 
house, beautifully situated amid pine plantations, and with a 
60-acre lake in front of it. The place is " extra parochial " 
in that it is beyond the usual confines of the hunt but the 
owner, Mr, Featherstone-Fenwick, acts as host to the North 
Durham once or twice in every season, and there are generally 
foxes in his young plantations, or at the adjoining covert of 
Lumley Ling, and they frequently oro&s the narrow valley and 


point for Lord Bute's, and I do not remember ever having 
seen one go for the open moor. Lord Bute's has been for sixty 
years at least a great stand by of the Durham hounds. In 
the 'sixties, when Dowdeswell was huntsman, hounds used to 
be brought to Stuartfield Lodge (the agent's house) in Sep- 
tember, and would be quartered there for several days, and 
hunting every morning. In those days cubhunting— in the 
North, at all events — did not atti-act a tenth of the people it 
now does, and probably the meets were only sent to half a 
dozen landowners and tenant farmers who resided in the neigh- 
bourhood which it was intended to hunt. I was at Woodlands 
all one autumn and winter, owing to an accident which kept 
me away from school, and many a good early mormng hunt 
I had with " 'ard Tommy Dowdeswell," as he was locally 
called. Lord Bute's at the time harboured quite a number 
of roedeer, which bred there — there are still a few in the neigh- 
bourhood — and it was a difficult matter to prevent hounds 
getting on to the line of one ol these deer when they were 
out of sight. They used to break out over Whitehall Moss, 
and make direct for the wooded Derwent Valley, several miles 
away, and it was a, most difficult matteir tO' stop the paolv, for 
Whitehall Moss was boggy and soft, and hounds could cross 
it much faster than a horse. Dowdeswell was a bit of a 
veteran when I first remember him, but as hard a man across 
country as I ever saw. The tallest walls had no terror for 
him, and on Blueskin, an angular grey — almost a blue roan 
— with a stringhalt but thoroughbred, and an extraordinary 
jumper, he rode in truly wonderful fashion. He retired when 
the hunt was divided in 1870, and after a spell of horse dealing 
and inn-keeping at Staindrop, in the Zetland country, he came 
back to North Durham, and resided at Cornsay, and on a pony 
he used to follow hounds until he was more than eighty years 
of age. He died some twelve or fourteen years ago, and by his 
wishes the tail of his old horse Blueskin was buried with him. 

I have mentioned the North Durham country round 
Lord Bute's and Catback, and now I must take my readers 
further south to the neighbourhood of Satley and Broom- 
shields, and I am inclined to think that in these days this 
is the best country in the hunt from a galloping point of view. 
Satley lies three to four miles due south of Woodlands, and 


midway between the two is Butsfield Burn, which is a long 
narrow valley, through which runs the river Browney, here- 
abouts quite a small stream. Butsfield Burn was onoe a fine 
covert, but the gorse has died away at the easterly end, which 
for twenty years was a certain find, and now it lies in patches, 
over a mile of ground, and finding a fox in it is not always 
certain. But when one covert becomes no longer safe in this 
country another takes its place, and if Butsfield Burn is not 
so sure as it once was the neighbouring whin on Dean House 
farm is as thick as a gorse covert can be, and there is always 
a litter or two between the whin and the top part of Butsfield 
Bum. The two are only separated by a single field, and a 
find at Dean House is a pretty sight, as the covert lies in the 
centre of a large rough field. South of Dean House, and 
about a mile away, is the Parson's Whin, a portion of the 
Satley Glebe, and though I never knew of foxes being bred 
there, it is close to the Broomshields Covert of Bedlam Lane, 
where some thirty acres of young plantation affoi*d nice lying, 
and where there is always a breed or two of foxes. They lie, 
too, in the Kennel Wood at Broomshields, and in the gill to 
the east of the hall, in a whin on West Shields farm, and a 
young plantation on the hill to the east of Broomshields 
Gill. Not many years ago the Broomshields coverts were 
the best of this part of the hunt, but the hall was empty 
for years, the shooting let, and cattle have been allowed inside 
the coverts. Foxes are always bred in the district, but finding 
them is not so simple a business as it once was, because they 
appear to change their quarters very often. When the late 
Mr. John Maddison Greenwell was alive all the interests of 
the hunt west of Lanchester were in his hands, and foxes were 
well looked after, not only on the Broomshields estate, but 
over a wide area of other properties, many of which were 
owned by non-resident landlords. John Greenwell was the 
greatest authority on foxes I ever met or heard of. He, so to 
speak, lived among them, and practically he not only knew of 
every litter, but, having watchetd them all from cubhood up- 
wards, he knew many of them by sight. He had a marvel- 
lously quick eye for a fox, either when hunting or walking 
about the country, and his halloa was so powerful and so 
melodious that he could bring hounds the best part of a mile 


to where he had seen a fox. To' breed foxes and to hunt them 
were the great aims of his life, and the moment one season was 
over he began to find out what litters he had and what others 
there were in the district, and when these were located he 
woixld watch them right through the summer. During the 
warm weather of midsummer he would spend hours watching 
young foxes playing round the earths, for he had constructed 
shelters he could creep into unsuspected, and get close to these 
same earths. A hundred years before he was bom a small 
amount of coal had been taken out of the very top of Broom- 
shields hill, and certain pitfalls had been formed which made 
famous breeding places for foxes. For many years there was 
a breed in each of two pitfalls close together in a young planta- 
tion, and owing to the lie ol the ground it was possible to get 
within fifty feet of these earths almost at any time. The cubs 
from the two earths would often number almost a dozen, and 
as the summer wore on they were regularly trained so that 
when hounds came they would leave at once, and not wait to be 
killed in covert. 

The modus operandi was quite simple. A fine, sunny day 
would be chosen, when the cubs would be basking or playing 
near the earth. Their proprietor and a friend, or gamekeeper, 
would then creep up to the boundary and throw a couple of 
sharp terriers over the wall, climbing over themselves and 
rushing one to each earth, the earths being only a few feet 
beyond the wall. If a cub chanced to be very near the earth 
he might get in, but nine times out of ten they were further 
afield in the young plantation. The terriers quickly found 
them out, and as each cub came to the earth he was headed 
off. For half an hour at least the hunting would go on, the 
cubs trying the earths time after time without success. After 
a while the terriers would be called off and taken away, and 
the whole party would reoross the wall — there being steps in 
a certain place — and, entering the shelter, would in the next 
ton minutes or so see every cub in the covert disappear into one 
or other of the earths. This performance would be repeated 
a week later, and then once or twice more before the season 
opened, and the cubs quickly discovered that with terriers 
behind them there was safety in flight, and at the first sign 
of being hunted would break for the gill lees than half a mile 


away. It might have been thought that foxes which were 
so frequently hunted would change their quarters, but these 
did not. To begin with, they were four or five months old 
before their education began, and then a brace of terriers from 
whom they could slip away in the covert were not very for- 
midable enemies, and, lastly, they were too big for the old 
foxes to remove. That foxes remove young cubs, carrying 
them in their mouths from one snug place to another, is within 
my knowledge, for I have actually seen them doing it; but a 
four or five months old cub is a strong, lusty individual, and 
at that time of his existence has shaken off the apron strings 
and become almost independemt. It must be understood that 
the place I am writing about was an ideal one for the business 
I have just described. The young plantation was situated 
on the crown of a hill, and the earths, except for the long rank 
grass which grew round them, were in the open and several 

feet below the highest part of the covert. They are indeed 

for they still exist — on a sloping bank, and from the outside 
of the wall a few feet away the ground falls so quickly that a 
man approaching from the lower ground is hidden until he 
reaches the wall. It would perhaps be difficult to find an 
exactly similar place, but I have seen young cubs hunted — 
exercised, we used to call it^ — by terriers in other coverts during 
the late summer, and most certainly the after consequences 
were satisfactory, for these cubs gave better sport than their 

No doubt it will be urged that too many cubs cannot be 
killed during cubhunting, and that hounds would be a little 
handicapped when hunting foxes which had been " exercised " 
by terriers, and so I must explain that at the time I am writing 
of — in the 'seventies and 'eighties of last century — holding up 
oubs in this particular district was not only unknown but 
almost impossible. I am seldom there now at cubhunting 
times, but I believe the foxes in the North Durham are hunted 
in ordinary fashion from the earliest meets in September, and 
I know they are in the adjoining Braes of Derwent country. 
Thirty and forty years ago there was no " field " to hold the 
foxes up, had it been thought of, and now very few of the 
covei-ts will allow of it being done, though when plenty of 
ridei-s are out it is possible at Rackwoodside, Dean House, and 


Humber Hill, and a few other gorse coverts in the open. One 
of the chief difficulties which foxes caused in the Broomshields 
district, and, indeed, much further afield, and which John 
Greenwell worked hard at getting the better of, was caused 
by the country being full of old stone drains, many of which 
were nearly always dry, in which foxes would breed, and where 
they were often hidden exactly when they were wanted. The 
fact is that when tile draining became universal the old stone 
drains were left, and after a time many of them were forgotten, 
especially where bracken and gorse had grown over them. The 
pipes, often at a lower level, caused the stone drains 
to become |dry, and as a rule when foxes used them 
all entrances and exits would be hidden. Some, of 
course, were well known, and early in the year a 
terrier would be run through and the mouths secured 
by iron gratings, but others were constantly found in 
the most unlikely places, and at one time half the foxes in 
the country were bred in these drains. As long as one knew 
which drains were being used, those particular drains could be 
stopped at night like any other earth, but some of them were 
connected with others, like the trenches in France, and at 
times it was almost impossible to find all the entrances until 
a whole field had been pulled to pieces. To give an example, 
I have in recollection a day in the early eighties when all the 
Broomshields oovertswere blank, though John Greenwell — who 
for many years was his own earth stopper — had actually 
watched several foxes leave two or three sets of earths on the 
previous evening. As may be imagined, the Squire of Broom- 
shields was terribly upset, but for the next few days he was 
too busy for an investigation. On the following Sunday, 
however, he started a close examination of all the underground 
haunts of foxes in the neighbourhood, and to his great surprise 
his terriers bolted half a dozen in quick succession from a field 
drain on East Broomshields farm, which had been permanently 
closed at the beginning of the season, but nov/ had the grating 
removed on the offchance that a fox might have found 
another entrance. It was obvious that there must be an un- 
known entrance, but search was fruitless, and " John " was 
in despair for some days. Then one day he was crossing the 
field adjoining the lane into which the drain debouched when 


a rabbit jumped up and was chased by terriers into the comer 
of the field in which was a tiny spinney. In this spinney were 
rabbit holes, and both terriers had disappeared into one of 
the holes. But they could not even be heard, and on leaving 
the spinney to reconnoitre, their owner viewed a fox cantering 
across the field. It then struck him that there must be com- 
munication between the rabbit holes and the drain in the lane 
not many yards away, and bringing a man and a spade they 
opened out the rabbit holes and found that it was so. 

While I am on the subject of John Greenwell and Broom- 
shields I must say something about the hare hunting of the 
district. The wide pastures of the big (in area) Satley parish 
are perhaps as good a hare hunting arena as I ever saw, and I 
certainly never heard of any estate which had been visited 
by so many packs of harriers and beagles as Broom shields. 
John Greenwell owned a very smart' pack himsself for 
three setasons in the late 'seventies, and theai he only 
gave them up because his health did not allow of his 
hunting every day of the week. But before that time 
I had seen at least three packs on the ground, the first 
I can remember being the Durham University Beagles, which 
were then kennelled at Lowes Bam, near Durham, and used 
occasionally to be brought to Cornsay overnight for a day on 
the Broomshields estate. Then the late Mr. Nicholas Bowser 
used to bring a pack of hariiers from Bishop Auckland, but 
before the Broomshields Hairiers were established the pack 
oftenest seen on the estate was the Wolsingham Harriers, of 
which a farmer named Vasey was then the Master. In the 
Complete Foahunter, published by Methuen and Co. soms 
fourteen years ago>, I made mention of Mr. Vasiey and his 
doing?, and asi I do not wish to repeat myself 1 will only say 
that he v/as a most wholehearted hare hunter, and a great 
" character." In those days — before the Hares and Rabbits 
Act — there were a great many hares in the North Durham 
country, and some of the landowners were very chary about 
giving leave to the Wolsingham Harriers, who, they said, dis- 
turbed the country and did not kill very often because they 
so frequently changed on to a fresh hare when running. The 
upshot was that most of Mr. Vasey's hunting was done on the 
boundaries of the moors, near Wolsingham, but he dearly 



loved a day at High Stoop or Deau House, and I once re- 
member him running a de©r from the north plantation (Lord 
Bute's) to the fishponds at Woodlands, where the deer took 
to the water, and the Master called his hounds off and beat a 
hasty retreat. He did not know, by the way, that his hounds 
were running a deer, for he had been in covert when the 
quarry broke away, but I told him when he joined me, a few 
minutes afterwards, and all he said was : ' ' Nowt of t' sort, 
thou's seen a cuddy " (donkey). Even the fact that hounds 
ran the lane from Lord Bute's to the Five Lane Ends did not 
convince him. 

After old Vasey's day John Greenwell's own pack hunted 
the district and showed fine sport. This Master was a bom 
huntsman, first rate on the horn, and with a most melodious 
voice. He occasionally hunted a fox about Sand Edge, or 
Cat Back, and at times took his hounds into the extreme west 
of the Braes of Derwent country, near the moors, when if he 
found a fox he simply could not help hunting it. It was with 
these hounds, hunting round Newton Hall, the residence ol 
Mr. Maynard, then Master of the North Durham, that 1 saw 
a free fight between hunting people and farm labourers, which 
I have described elsewhere ; but such a thing was absolutely 
unusual, and I never heard of a similar occurrence anywhere 
in the north of England. Mr. Vasey's hounds were a very 
scratch lot to look at, being of all sizes, and many of them 
a good deal on the leg. He liked a big hound, because oi the 
high stone walls, and here I may remark that harriers always 
did better than beagles in this country for the same reason; 
but this applied chiefly to the most westerly ground, where 
the walls' were much higher than they are lower down the 
country. Near the moors all the fences are formidable walb; 
further down the valley there are tv.'o or three thorn fences 
to every wall, and roundabout Lanche&ter the country is 
suitable even for amaJl beagles. ]\Ir. Greenwell's hounds were 
a great improvement on the Wolsingham. Their owner went 
here and there, procuring drafts, at a time when there v/ere 
many harriers in the market, and as he drafted both at the 
head and tail he soon had a fairly even pack, which were 
wonderfully under control. 

I used to whip in to him at times, and I have one particular 


recoilectioii of a very curious day we had together. The meet 
was at the Bay Horse, Caistleside, when Mr. Greenwell owned 
the adjoining farm of Hole House. We had only arranged 
the hunt at Broomshields overnight, and there was no 
" field "; in fact, when we started only " Bob " Davison, 
the host of the Bay Horse, was with us. The intention was 
to find a hare on Hole House farm, and hounds were taken 
to a few acres of turnips and at once went away on a strong 
line, for we saw nothing. They quickly crossed the road into 
Castleside Wood, and, getting through it much quicker than 
we did, were soon two fields in front. Running on hard, they 
were soon on the open moor at Whitehall, where they 
began to travel more slowly through the heather. We were 
now pretty sure that they had got on to the line of a travelling 
fox — it was at the beginning of February — and we debated 
whether we should stop them while we had the chance. It 
was decdded " just to see what they made of it," and a moment 
later they were going again, much faster because they were on 
a sheep track. Bearing gradually left-handed, they reached 
the Stuartfield Lodge Plantation, and now we agreed that if 
possible they should be stopped. But the covert just named 
was then terribly thick, and difficult for horses in the centre, 
and, though we could hear hounds, we could not reach them. 
After some time, and a great deal of horn blowing, it became 
certain they had gone on ; but we could find no trace of them, 
and we separated, and each of us rode about the country 
until dark, vainly looking for hounds. When I reached 
Broomshields John Greenwell was standing at the kennel door, 
and announced that a single hound had cast up. We spent 
an anxious evening, going constantly to the kennel ; but I do 
not recollect that any more hounds turned up, and it was a 
night of terrible storm, so that anything like a search party 
was out of the question. We were astir early the next 
morning, and shortly after daylight a lad on a pony appeared, 
with a dirty piece of paper in his hand, on which was scrawled, 
" Dogs is here." There was no name or address, but the lad 
explsiined that he came from an out-of-the-way moorland farm, 
that just before dusk on the preceding afternoon the dogs had 
rushed into their " back hemmel " — a local word describing a 
cowhouse, or similar outbuilding. This particular " back 


hemmel " happened to be empty, and the fanner had shut 
hounds in, and when we got there he explained that " They 
had fair rived the place down in the night." They had done 
no harm, but they had not been fed, and had no doubt made 
a terrible din, and it had never struck the farmer what was 
wrong. After some investigation we found part of the brush 
and part of the mask and other slight remains of a fox, but 
practically all the bones as well as the flesh and fur had been 
devoured. Mr. Greenwell, when his health became indifferent, 
sold his harriers to the late Lord Lonsdale (brother of the 
present peer), and they were located at or near Penrith for 
the use of the tenants on the Lowther estate. 

After Mr. John Greenwell disposed of his harriers, hare hunt- 
ing at Broomshields was by no means at an end. The Durham 
Beagles, of which Mr. Creighton Foster was Master in the 
early 'eighties, and the Darlington Foot Harriers, under the 
control of Mr. T. Watson, were very frequent visitors over a 
period of several seasons. Creighton Foster was, like Mr. 
Vasey, of Wolsingham, quite a " character," and there was 
a certain amount of festivity mixed up with his hunting, nor 
did he appear to care much what sort of sport he showed 
so long as he ran a hare or two and killed an occasional one. 
He wa-s, in fact, very keen in the forenoon, but he was not a 
young man, and when he became tired he would hand his 
horn to anyone of his field who would take it, and, finding a 
coign of 'vantage on high ground, watch the proceedings from 
afar. At such times one naturally wanted to be with hounds, 
but those who stayed near the Master were entertained by 
his curious comments on the hunting which was taking place, 
bv a wonderful flow of chaff, bestowed on whoever might be 
near, and by a string of stories concerning the sport of the 
district. Creighton was an ardent foxhunter, and had been 
a hard man to hounds, but he was well beyond middle age 
when hfj became a " currant jelly " huntsman, and had lost 
his keenness. Still he got to hounds pretty quickly when they 
killed, and it was hardly fair to say of him — as it was said 
at the time — that he hunted the luncheon cart all the fore- 
noon, and the Broomshields saddle room afterwards. This 
saddle room, by the way, was for some years a sort of sporting 
club for the district, and on hunting days many were enter- 



tained there, as well as at the hall. Hunt servants were always 
very welcome, and farmers, gamekeepers, and others would 
find their way there on any day that either foxhounds or 
harriers were in the neighbourhood; but the great day was 
Saturday in the winter months, when all and sundry were 
allowed to try their greyhounds over the estate. John Green- 
well was almost as fond of coursing as he was of hunting, and 
as there were scores of greyhounds within a ten-mile radius, 
and leave for trials elsewhere was not easily obtained, it will 
be understood that there was a rush to Broomshields, especially 
during the inclosed coursing boom, when meetings were being 
constantly held at Gosforth Park. The only drawback, from 
tlie greyhound owners' point of view wa^ that the hares were 
too strong, and that in consequence some of the greyhounds 
got too big a dose, but the demand for trials never showed any 
decrease, and the Saturday coursings were continued almost 
up to Mr. Greenwell's death in 1886. 

" Tom " Watson, Master of the Darlington, was the exact 
antithesis of Creighton Foster as a hare hunter. His keen- 
ness was quite remarkable and his running powers simply 
extraordinary. His pack, too, were excellent in their work, 
well cared for, and admirably hunted. They were the first 
pack to kill five hares in a day on the estate, and I may em- 
phasise the fact that each of these five hares stood up for 
quite half an hour. Indeed, a weak hare was almost unknown 
in the Satley district in the 'eighties, and it is on record that 
on one occasion, where there was a good deal of frost in the 
ground, twenty-seven greyhound trials were run without a 
single hare being killed, but I must add that in nearly every 
case the hare, after being well coursed, found shelter in one 
of the larch plantations of the estate. To return for a moment 
to the Darlington, the pack used to be brought to Tow Law 
by train on the hunting days, and when the sport was over 
many of the field would drive or go by train to Durham, 
thirteen miles away, to be entertained at dinner by the late 
Mr. J. F. Bell, of North End, father of tlie present joint 
Master of the North Durham, and of Captain W. Bell, of tJie 
12th Lancers, who was wounded in the wax. 

About this same period I have a recollection of Mr. " Jack " 
Pease, now Lord Gainford, bringing a pack of beagles 


to High Stoop, or Iloiislip Bridge, on the borders of 
the Broomshields estate, but the successors of Mr. Creighton 
Foster's beagles v/ere the pack which Mr. J. E. Rogerson 
owned for a sieason or two before he took the North 
Durham foxhounds, and the defunct Shotley Bridge 
beagles, of which Mr. Arthur Falconer was Master. Each of 
these packs showed excellent sport, and the Shotley Bridge 
"psuck once rivalled Mr. Watson's feat of killing five hares in a 
day. Both packs were followed by an unmounted field, and 
at thisi period — the middle and later 'eighties — these tvv'o packs 
and the Darlington each came in turn, there often being hare 
hunting in the neighbourhood every week. The Durham con- 
tinued their visits under a succession of masters, and before 
the war Mr. Frank Bell, who bought Mr. Allgood's harriers 
from North Tyne, hunted the country very regularly and 
showed excellent sport. 

And now to go back to foxhunting in the North Durham 
country, mention must be made of Gladdow, two miles north 
of Broomshields, and which has been for fifty years, and still 
is, one of the very best coverts in the hunt. Gladdow is 
placed on a steep hillside, and its virtue lies in the fact that 
when one part- of the covert becomes thin another part is 
always ready to take its place as a fox sanctuary. It consists 
of two larch plantatioais, a small wood of forest timber, in 
which there is strong undergrowth of holly and other shrubs, 
and about half a dozen acres of gorse, which adjoin the covert 
on its east side, and which at the present day is practically a 
certain find. Perhaps there have been more good runs from 
Gladdow than from any other covert in the hunt, and one of 
my first recollections of it goes back to the early days of Mr. 
Maynard's mastership, when hounds ran to the North Planta- 
tion (Lord Bute's), theinoe to The Sneep (Braes of Derwent 
country), Greenhead, and then, after a widish circle in the 
Shotley country, came back to Mosswood, where they killed 
in the road, close by the woodman's cottage. The great thing 
about Gladdow was that its foxes had no notion of hanging 
about their own country, but always went for a distant point, 
and this no doubt caused the high reputation which the place 
has always held. Mr. John Groenwell owned a part of it, and 
in his* day nine finds out of ten were in that part, but no^v the 


best part of the covert is on the Ushaw Co-llege estate. Gladdbw 
lies in a secluded vale, with no population near it, and a 
quieter place for foxes could hardly be found. Nor does it 
matter what time of day it is drawn, and I have known hounds 
take a hunted fox through it about one o'clock, and draw it at 
3.30, and get a great hunt. The occurrence I have in mind 
took place some fifteen years ago, and hounds ran, with hardly 
a check to speak of, until six, when it was too dark to go on, 
and an opportunity occurred of stopping thean. The hunts- 
man's horse had given in, and a big field (this hunt came at 
the close of a good day) was reduced to four or five, when 
hounds were stopped at Satley. 

The huntsman came up a few minutes latea* oai a po^ny 
borrowed from a farmer, and the only trouble v/as that the 
fox — who was seen not far in front of hounds just before they 
were stopped — was not brought to hand. I could mention 
scores of good runs from Gladdow which I have seen, and I 
know of others which took place in my absence; but old runs 
are not alwa3's interesting, except to those who were in them, 
and I shall only mention one more, which took place in March, 
1883, shortly before Mr. Maynard's mastership came to an 
end. Hounds were advertised for Satley, and as the season 
was nearing its close there was a large field. But Satley lies 
800 ft. above sea level, and when people arrived from the 
lower country they found a hard frost in the neighbourhood 
of the meet. Matters were better at tweJve o'clock ; but the 
Master did not want to hunt, and probably would not have 
done so had not a gamekeeper arrived with the information 
that a fox was lying on a little bit of ploughed land adjoining 
Hirh Gladdow. As a rule such stories do not bear much 
fruit, but this was a true one, for as hounds entered the field 
the fox was viewed leaving it on the other side. Scent was 
as good as it could be, and hounds raced alongside the Gladdow 
Beck to its confluence with the Browney, and thence down the 
valley to Greenwell Ford and left-handed to Newbiggen, going 
over the frequently used point-to-point course. They then 
ran through Woodlands, Rippon Burn, the North Plantation 
(Lord Bute's), and across the Darlington railway at Burc 
Hill station. By this time the field was greatly reduced, for 
hounds had been going best pace for nearly an hour, and had 


never been handled for a moment. On the far side of the 
railway hounds could be seen going over the open moor, and it 
looked hopeless, but the fox had not liked the heather, and 
five minutes later he was viewed bending to the left. He re- 
orossed the railway at Salter's Gate, went by Woodbum and 
Butsfield Burn to the Black Banks — then a strong covert — 
and over Hall Hill Farm to the College Wood at Gladdow, 
where they caught him. The wonderful thing about the 
hunt was that hounds went right through it without a check, 
or, rather, they were always able to set themselves right when 
they faltered, and were never touched by the huntsman, 
who, as a matter of fact, had to stop near Burnhill owing to 
his horse being beaten, and only saw the first part of it. From 
Greenwell Ford to where hounds turned beyond Bum Hill is 
seven miles, and from the turn to the kill at Gladdow five 
miles, and, in fact, the hunt was oblong in shape. For the 
last half -hour there were only two riders with hounds, and one 
of the two came to grief at timber on Land House Farm, not a 
quarter of a mile from the end. The other succeeded in re- 
covering the brush and mask, both in a dilapidated condition, 
but he had to leave his horse and wade waist deep through 
the Gladdow Beck, which was in high flood after a thaw and 
quite an impossible jump. And, very curiously, within a few 
minutes a great number of people cast up. The Master (on 
wheels) and several others had never left the district, for 
hounds had slipped away at top speed, and many had funked 
the going. All of these had stayed in the neighbourhood of 
Gladdow, which was to have been the first draw of the day, 
but after the kill there was a general adjournment to Broad- 
wood, then the residence of Mr. G. G. Taylor Smith, a great 
supporter of the hunt, where a certain amonnt of festivity 
was a natural consequence of such a hunt. This hunt will 
always live in my memory, because I do not remember ever 
seeing hounds cover such a distance of ground without at least 
one or two checks ; but there can be little doubt that the same 
fox was in front of the pack all the way, for they never f altered 
in going through the two or three coverts which were in 
the line, and the fox came back into the country he had been 
found in, and was killed barely a mile from where the hunt 


John Greenwell, who was a fine judge of everything con- 
nectod with hunting, and not given to overestimating the 
doings of hounds, held a strong opinion to the effect that this 
was the best run he ever knew of with the North Durham, 
and I am much inclined to agree with him. A bettt^r line could 
not be found in this particular country, for hounds ran almost 
into Lanchester without touching a covert except the few acres 
of Robinson's Wood. They then went on to Woodlands, all 
open country, until they creased a corner of the Sawmill Wood, 
near the Five Lane Ends. Through Rippon Burn they 
travelled so fast that hounds were two fields ahead when the 
riders got through the wood, and when they reached Lord 
Bute's tiiey merely ran down the North Plantation inside the 
wall, and went straight out at the west end. Of course, the 
fox was an exceptional one for any country, and, judged by 
his mask, about four or five years old. 

I seem to have written a good deal about John Greenwell 
and the hunting he looked after, but, as was recognised at the 
time, he was quite an exceptional sportsman, and had the 
knack of doing everything well. With all his knowledge he 
was a shy and retiring man, who would never attend a public 
function in case he might be asked to make a speech, and who 
never threw his tongue except when he was hunting hounds. 
He was for a time in the 4th battalion of the Durham Light 
Infantry (then a militia regiment), and he was for a few 
terms at Cambridge, and I feel that I would not be doing 
him j ustice unless I recounted a little story of his life in either 
place. The militia episode comes first, and is as follows : The 
recruits of the regiment had two months* training at the old 
barracks in Durham every spring before the full regiment went 
into camp. I was staying at Broomshields, and John, then 
one of the senior subalterns, and I drove one Saturday to 
Du'rham to dine at the mass, and a friend, who' was serving 
with the recruits, was to return with us, having leave for Sun- 
day. It was a guest night, and a festive one, and about mid- 
night we started on our homeward drive of thirteen miles. 
John decided to go by Esh instead of by Lanchester, and drove, 
while our friend was on the back seat of a high dogcart. All 
went well until we reached Aldin Grange, about two miles out 
of Durham, and here there was a bridge over the river Browney. 


But before the bridge was built there v.-as a ford, and at the 
time I am writing of the old road through the ford was still 
open. It was a dark night, and the road into the ford came 
just before the bridge. Whether he meant it, or was confused 
by the want of light I do not know, but our driver turned 
into the ford, and as the horse slowed down into the water, 
and the cart jerked a little, there was a heavy splash, caused 
by the militiaman falling off behind. " Pull up ! "I shouted ; 
but the only answer I got was, " That's just what we wanted. 
That's lightened the load nicely. Now we shall get up the 
hill all right. Just think of it, we've drowned a militia- 
man ! " The " load " had been down in the water, and was, 
of course, dripping wet, but by walking up the hills and run- 
ning down them (he was an active boy), with his hand on 
the tail-board, he covered most of the eleven miles on his feet, 
and was none the worse for his ducking. 

The Cambridge business was a visit I paid him, and first I 
should say that John did not go up until he was two or three 
years over the usual age, and that he went to Downing simply 
because he had heard that one cf the dons (Mr. Perkins) was 
secretary of the Cambridgeshire. I had never been at Cam- 
bridge (except in a Newmarket train), and when John asked 
me to pay him a visit, he explained that he had put off his 
own sight-seeing until I came (he had been up at least two 
terms). Well, I reached Cambridge late one night, and next 
morning there was a cheery breakfast party in John's rooms, 
during which time a guide sat in the passage with a tankard of 
beer in his hand. About twelve o'clock, after an argument 
as to the course to be followed, we set out, and the first place 
we reached was a stable where sundry of the party had a hor?e 
or so at livery. There was a longish delay here, and then an 
adjournment to another stable, and then, I think, to a third. 
Then we passed a place " where they sold the best beer in Cam- 
bridge," and that caused another check, and from this place 
we went down a yard to see a litter of terrier puppies and a 
beagle or two at walk. Then I was taken to see the prettiest 
barmaid in the town, and all this time the guide kept mutter- 
ing, " What about King's Collec^e chapel? " and so forth. 
At last one of the party who had constituted himself as our 
leader very early in the proceedings, said, " Now for the sights. 


This way," and he rattled down a back street. At the end 
of this street he tipped the guide and told him to shove off, 
and, nipping into a stable yard, hustled us all into a pair- 
horse waggonette which was standing all ready to start, and 
in this we drove to the Cambridgeshire kennels, and spent the 
afternoon (it was a summer term) in an inspection of the pack. 
I left the next day, and when John Greenwell finally " came 
down " he was not quite clear whether he had ever seen the 
sights, except on the particular day I have mentioned. 

South and west of the Gladdow-Broomshields country there 
are certain wide, open tracts of " white " land, which include 
Hedley Hope Fell and Stanley Moss. Foxes lie out on the 
Moss, and if found there must make a fair point ; but this par- 
ticular country is bad from a riding point of view, for the hills 
are ste«p and much of the ground very wet and only half 
drained. There is, however, a fine gorse covert in the open 
on Hedley Hope Common, which is known as Cuddy's Burn, 
or Cuddy's Hills, but from which particular Cuddy the name 
came I have never heard. Cuddy is short for Cuthbert in this 
country, and also is a local word meaning a donkey. The name 
Cuthbert is very common in the north, and Surtees, it will 
be remembered, gave the name to one of his finest characters. 
Cuddy Flintoff, in Ask Mamma. Not far from Hedley Hope 
some years ago — but on the other side of the ridge of hills — 
dwelt one Cuthbert Mawson, who was always known as 
" Cuddy Mossum." This particular Cuddy was a rough-and- 
ready foxhunter, keen as mustard, but though a vrealthy man 
he turned out in deplorable style, and at times I have seen him 
in an ordinary suit of clothes, with the trousers stuffed into an 
old pair of top boots, which, he said, belonged at an earlier 
period of their career to a postboy. His horse was always 
badly groomed, and it was marveillous how his saddle anrl 
bridle held together ; but he knew the country and the run of 
the foxes, and occaisionally would turn up at the end of a long 
hunt when very few were left. On one occasion during Mr. 
Maynard's mastership hounds ran a fox from the Brancepeth 
country to ground in a field drain not far from Crook. The 
Master was very anxious to have the fox out, and as it was 
late in the afternoon, and the place looked a simple one, he 
decided to dig, and a couple of spades were quickly brought 


from the nearest farmhouse. But difficulties soon arose, for 
the drain forked quite close to where the fox had gone in, and 
at least a couple of hounds had disappeared, and had 
apparently stuck somewhere. Local labourers kept coming 
up, and at length the Master shouted, " Do any of you men 
know the lie of this drain ? " And then Cuddy, who had been 
watching the proceedings, quietly observed, " Those men knaw 
nought, but here's one coming who aught to knaw the drain, 
for he was about bred up in't." This from a remarkably silent 
man was thought to be final and conclusive, and full charge 
was given to the newcomer, who quickly liberated the hounds, 
and a few minutes later drew the fox with his own hands, and 
held him out to the Ma&ter in the simplest way, evidently ex- 
pecting that as he himself knew how to handle a fox other 
people would be able to take it from his hand just as easily. 
Hounds were in a distant comer of the field, but, as a matter 
of course, they seemed to know the moment of liberation, and 
after they had broken their fox up (it was now quite dark, 
so that there was no question of law) we adjourned to Cuddy's 
house, not far away, and were regaled on cake and port wine. 
I was never in the house except on that occasion, but I re- 
member the walls were decorated with hunting prints, which 
alternated with pictures of fat, prize-winning cattle. Shortly 
after that date poor Cuddy had a shocking accident. He was 
trotting his horse in the dark along the back lane of the 
village when he was caught round the neck by a clothes line, 
pulled off, and severely injured, and, if memory serves, he did 
not live long afterwards. 

The hill, which reaches its highest points about Hedley 
Hope and Tow Law, and divides the Browney and Dearness 
valleys, acts as a sort of natural barrier to the Lanchester 
portion of the North Durham country but beyond and slightly 
to the west it is a triangle, the points of which are Tow Law, 
Witton-le-Wear, and Wolsingham, and at one time this was 
very favourite hunting ground. Now, however, mining opera- 
tions have spoilt all the eastern part, and though hounds meet 
both at Witton-le-Wear and Wolsingham, they only go occa- 
sionally to those places which are very remote from the kennels. 
The river Wear divides the North Durham from the Zetland 
country and west of Bishop Auckland, and either pack may 


cross from one country to' the other. The North Durham 
a few years agO' ran to the Grove, and I have known of several 
couples of the Zetland running to ground at Broomshields. 
They had come from the Black Banks, just east ol Wolsingham, 
and a whipper-in was sent after theim, and had no trouble in 
recovering them. But as far as my experience goes the foxes 
from the Black Banks, or from the Ha.i*perley estate on the 
North Durham side of thei Wear, merely cross a.nd recross the 
Wear, and do not leave the district, while if they get a little 
way into- the neighbouring country they are stopped and 
brought back. East and north of this Wear Valley country are 
the Brancepetli covea-t?, and though collieries are much more 
numerous than they once were, there is still a fine stretch of 
country between Conisay and the Wear at Sunderland Bridge 
— about tcin miles' in distance — all of which is very regularly 
hunted. Quite near Cornsay lies the Almshouses Whin, a 
sure find, and fairly good to get away from, as foxes go over 
the Cornsay Hill to Gladdow or down the Dearness valley to 
the Monkey's Nest, which is also a whin covert, on the site of 
of the once famous Town's Plantations. I can remember this 
district when the collieries were just beginning to appear, and 
when it was all plain sailing from Lord Bute's to Brancepeth, 
and even now the country is not greatly cut up, because a 
colliery and its cottages, coke ovens, and so forth are always 
concentrated and cover no great area of ground. There is 
none of the straggling of a suburban district, or even of a large 
country village; but a coal pit or two, possibly coke ovens, a 
few railway sidings, and several rows of streets of cottages all 
dumped down together in a very small space. 

From a hunting point of view the colliery railways present 
the greatest difficulty, but of course all the crossings are known, 
and it seldom happens that a field is hung up, for gates are 
frequent, on account of all the farming interests. Curiously 
enough, hounds may meet in a colliery village, and hunt all 
day within a mile or two of the collieriee, and yet never go very 
near them. Whether foxes visit them for the sake of the 
poultry at night, these same foxes do not seem to care about 
going into the vicinity of the pits when they (the foxes) are being 
run by hounds, and I believe that the same sort of thing has been 
noted in other colliery countries. In the North Durham the 


pitfalls caused by miuiiig near the surface are a greater 
hindrance to hunting than the collieries themselves; but it 
must be understood that I am writing of one particular part 
of the hunt, and not of the north-western quarter, in which 
there are no collieries and a very thin population. Ivesley 
Pastures, which are open fields covered with heather and gorse, 
and Rowley lie south of Town's Plantations, and at the Bid- 
dings, close by, there was some years ago a single litter of ten 
fox cubs, as was proved at the time. As may be imagined, 
they were small and weak, and nearly all of them were killed 
during cubhunting without affording any sport worth the name. 
A little further south is Hedley Hope, a strong covert, on a 
hillside, with the Dearness stream separating it from Stanley 
Wood. (The Dearness is formed of two streams, one of which 
comes down from the Comsay valley and the other down the 
Hedley Hope valley, and which meet near Waterhouses.) 
These coverts are a great stronghold of foxes, and they form 
the western end of a chain of woods, of which Ragpath and 
Waterhouses are more easterly. South of this valley the 
ground rises gradually to Weather Hill, which, one thinks, is 
now the best of all the Brancepeth coverts, for it includes 
young plantations which are snugly placed, miles away from 
any population, and which afford the driest lying imaginable. 
Beyond, in the next valley, and still further south, are the 
IMiddles and Stockley Gill, and foxes ring the changes con- 
sistently between all the coverts I have mentioned. In fact, 
great sport is of frequent occurrence on the Brancepeth 
estate; but as a rule the points are short, and I have known 
hounds travel between Waterhouses Wood, Weather Hill, and 
the Middles half a dozen times in one afternoon. Indeed, I 
have in recollection a. hunt of abouti twenty years ago, when 
hounds found at the Middles, and were runing for three and a 
half hours, with no checks worthy of the name, and yet were 
never more than three miles from where they found. On that 
occasion they covered quite five-and-twenty miles of country, 
always at a holding pace, and when darkness came only three 
or four of a fairly large field were left. It must be under- 
stood that there are no collieries or villages between the Water- 
houses district and Brancepeth, and only the smallest agricul- 
tural population. 


The Braacftpeth coverts, owned by Lord Boyne, are beauti- 
fully kept, and it would be difficult to find a better covert than 
the Middles, though just lately the young plantations at 
Weather Hill seem to be more favoured by foxes. The Middles 
is a large plantation, and with all sorts of lying, but much of it 
has a heather bottom, and at the moment I cannot recollect 
having seen it drawn blank — and I must have seen it drawn 
between fifty and a hundred times at least. It is intersected 
by wide grass rides, and there is an earth about the centre of 
the covert and another near the stream at the north end. For 
cubhunting there could hardly be a better place, for foxes can 
always be viewed as they cross the rides but it is practically 
a sure find always, though, because it is at the head of a little 
valley, it is seldom a first draw, and I am inclined to think 
that hounds run into it more frequently than they draw it. I 
have a recollection of it saving a blank day on two occasions, 
the first being many years ago, when hounds met at Witton 
Gilbert, and drew until four o'clock without finding. It was 
nearly dark when they reached the Middles, but they found 
there, and ran straight to Gladdow, half a dozen miles away, 
and where the earths were open. Henry Haverson was then 
huntsman, and I stayed with him an hour or two at Gladdow 
trying to collect hounds, who were busy among several fresh 
foxes. The second occasion was when the mange epidemic was 
at its worst, some years ago, in a season when the 
North Durham only killed two and a half brace of clean 
foxes, all the others being more or less mangy. Lord Boyne 
is a great benefactor to this side of the hunt, for he owns a 
large tract of well-foxed and very sporting country, and 
though he himself is Master of the adjoining South Durhaiii 
country, and now seldom out with the North Durham, he prac- 
tically supplies the raw material for about one day in every 

North of the Brancepeth country comes the Lanchester 
valley, about twelve miles in length, from Durham to Iveston, 
where lies the most northerly covert. Time was when this 
was the best riding country in the hunt, but there are now 
three large collieries in the valley, and though they are some 
miles apart, they have altered the character of the hunting, 
and whereas foxes used to run week after week from Hill Top 


to certain places west of Lanohester, and vice versa, tliey now 
more frequently cross the valley, and they are nothing like so 
numerous as they once were. At the Durham end of the 
valley, Sniperley Moss, some plantations near Ushaw College, 
and Hill Top are the chief coverts ; but Hill Top, formerly a 
great stronghold, is much thinner than it was a few years ago, 
and not so sure a find. Opposite Hill Top, on the other side 
of the Browney, which hereabouts has assumed the proportions 
of a river, are Lord Durham's Langley coverts — where many 
big bags have been made by Royalty in comparatively recent 
years— and west of Langley, Burnhopeiside, formerly the 
property of the late Mr. George Fawcett, of coursing 
celebrity, and of which the late Mr. Alan Greenwoll, of 
Durham, for many years secretary of the hunt, had 
the shooting, and strictly preserved foxes for a long period. 
Burnhopeside is a famous covert, where foxes are always bred, 
and to which they run from many parts of the hunt, and it is 
snugly placed on the side of a hill, with the earths well secluded. 
At Greenwell Ford, a mile and a half west of Burnhopeside, 
there are young plantations which doubtless will hold foxes 
shortly; but Hollybush, a whin covert and a certain find for 
many years, has been ploughed out. One other fine covert in 
this neighbourhood, midway between Greenwell Ford and 
Gladdow, is Rackwoodside, a 20-acre whin on a steep hillside, 
where the field can stand on the top and watch every fox that 
moves. Probably the average North Durham man would con- 
sider Rackwoodside the best covert in the hunt, and I am 
not sure that the claim would not be justified. Foxes are 
always bred there, and I am inclined to think that it affords 
(at the present time) better sport than any other covert one 
could name. 

West of Lanchester are the Greencroft coverts, and further 
west Iveston Gill, which is, however, so remote that it is 
seldom drawn. But at times it has afforded a good hunt, and 
I have in mind a very fine hunt from it in the 'seventies. 
Hounds ran a fox there from the Tower Wood at Greencroft 
which went to ground. Hounds were being called away when 
a fresh fox was viewed, and this one hounds ran to Bogle Hole, 
How ens Gill, Sheepwalks, Butsfield, Broomshields, and thence 
left-handed to Low Mill, where they killed. This hunt was 


done at a rattling pace, and it is impressed on my memory 
because Mr. Maynard had never been at Iveston Gill before, 
and, in fact, did not know of its existence. When the then 
Master took the North Durham he had just come into the 
country from Yorkshire, and though at the time of this run he 
had been Master for three or four seasons, he had never seen 
Iveston Gill, which is rather hidden in a fold of the hills. But 
after this fine hunt I was asked to look after the covert, which 
is only a little, neglected -looking place, and I found that its 
ownership was disputed, that two adjoining farmers claimed 
the eatage, and that anyone and everyone went intoi the covert 
as they liked. It held foxes because of an impenetrable whin 
in part of it, and I quickly discovered that a cottager who lived 
not far off was in the habit of waiting for the foxes with a gun, 
and sending those he shot to b© stuffed. The place was what 
Surtei^ called " extra parochial," and is of small account in 
the doings of the hunt, though foxes gO' there, on account of 
the pitfalls, which are very difficult to " stop." East of 
Greencroft there is a very good covert called Bunihope, and 
near it Gee's Whin, which was burnt not long ago, but is 
growing up again. 

Ati one time thig waa about the thickest gorse I ever 
saw, and Mr. Rogerson used always to go in on foot 
when he drew it, while " night sliift " miners who had come 
to see a hunt would help him. Even then it was a most diffi- 
cult matter to get a fox to leave, for the whin is at least ten 
acres, and there are no rides or open spaces. Gee's Whin is 
at the top of the hill, and on the eastern side of this hill there 
is a long chain of coverts, many of which are OAvned by Lord 
Durham. These extend from Burnhope to Sacriston, and 
though they are for the most part in a long, narrow, wooded 
ravine, there are certain spurs, such as Taylor's Plantation. 
The whole form a fine chain of coverts, from which many foxes 
are found ; but Sacriston Wood, at the south-eastern end of 
the chain, is the great &tronghold, and the foxes bred there' — 
which are looked after by Colonel Blackett, of Acorn Close — 
afford a supply for quite a big neighbourhood. There is, too, 
a covert named The Hag, a little east of Nursingfield Gill, 
and in my early days hunting men used to talk ol the best run 
of many years having ended there. This hunt took place in 



the late 'sixties, and though I have not the exact date, I have 
an account of the run which appeared in the local paper. 
Hounds found in Rippon Burn, passed close by Woodlands 
Hall, ran nearly to Castleside, turned through Lord Bute's, 
and on by The Hermitage, Satley, and Broomshields, dov/n 
the valley to Gladdow, thence to Browney Bank, Colepike, 
Square House, Hamsteels, and down the Browney nearly to 
Hill Top. They crossed the river, west of Hill Top, and ran 
through the Langley coverts and Nursingfield Gill, killing in 
a little ravine at Holmside. Those who know the country and 
how far apart such places as Castleside and Holmside, or 
Broomshields and Holmside, are will appreciate the distance 
covered, which works out at over twenty miles, without allow- 
ing for the twists and turns. The time was three and a half 
hours, and seven were up at the finish. 

All the parts of the North Durham country which I have 
already described are on the western side of Durham and north 
of the river Wear. There remain a considerable district due 
north of Durham, and another portion of the country south 
of the Wear, and both were particularly popular not many 
years ago; but the collieries have increased both in size and 
number, and there are numerous " pit " railways and a good 
deal of wire. Indeed, this country has to a great extent 
collapsed, and, as far as I can judge, foxes do not often leave 
it now when hunted, but ring the changes from one covert to 
another, and seldom go very far afield. When Mr. Maynard 
lived at Newton Hall, about two miles north of Durham, 
Red House Gill was a famous place for sport, and meets at the 
kennels were always well attended. Red House Gill is a 
hanging covert on the river Wear, of considerable length, and 
opposite parts of it are the coverts of Cocken Hall, which also 
clothe the river banks, while further south, round a bend of 
the river, is Brass-side Wood. At times foxes would run up 
the banks and down the banks all day long, and vary the 
proceedings by crossing the river, and recrossing it again a 
little later ; but at the time I have in mind they used also to 
go far afield, and I recollect in one season that a fox from Red 
House Gill was killed by the lodge gate at Broomshields, and 
another in one of the meadows below Cole Pike Hall. In the 
first run, which very few saw, because the pack had divided. 


and the smaller portion were throwing their tongues lustily 
on the banks when the bigger lot got away, hounds went to 
Hill Top, Kackwoodside, Hall Hill, and, passing to the east of 
Satley, caught their fox on the road a mile beyond the village, 
and just beyond the Broomshields Lodge. In the other hunt 
they ran by Barras Hill, Foalfoot, Cold Park, Burnhopeside, 
and Greenwell Ford to Colepike, and both gallops were equally 
good and with a long point. The main London toi Edinburgh 
line is on an embankment above the end of Red House Gill, 
and just where foxes used generally to break, and if hounds 
^ot over it without being observed and went straight on it 
was not an easy matter to catch them. Towards the end of 
his mastership Mr. Maynard used to remain near this vital 
spot, where there is a farm road under the railway, and would 
not leave it until all chance of a fox crossing the line seemed 
to have disappeared. The Arbour House coverts. Bog Wood, 
the Black Dene at Southill — close by Plawsworth station — 
Potter House Wood, Barras Hill, The Hermitage covers, 
and a few small places at Whitehill conclude the tally of 
coverts in this part of the hunt, for the North Durham no 
longer go to Lambton Castle or Ravensworth, as they did, 
occasionally, in Mr. Maynard's time. South and east of the 
Wear much of the country which used to be hunted has been 
given up owing to industrialism. This applies chiefly to the 
ccuntry about Penshaw, Silksworth, Burdon, Rough Deaie, and 
so forth. The Cock en coverts are still hunted, and the south 
side of the river from Shincliffe to Whitworth, this including 
Croxdale, where foxes are numerous, Tudhoe, and Whitworth. 
There is a bit of nice country immediately south of Croxdale, 
but the best part of the North Durham south of the river is 
round about Shadforth, west and south of Elemore. This is 
good riding country, and very open ; but hounds do not go 
there so often as they once did, and lately I have observed 
that at least three meets out of every four are on the 
north side, and nearly half of them in the western end of 
the country. 

Having described the country, I may go on to say that the 
North Durham Hunt was established in 1872. Before that 
date the Durham County hounds hunted what are now the 
North and South Durham countries, and I do not intend to 


write much about what took plsice previous to the division 
of the country. The bare facts as to the roll of Masters and 
so forth are to be found in Mr. Richard Ord's book Sedgefield 
in the 'Seventies and 'Eighties, and also in Bmly's Hunting 
Directory ; but since the division of the country I have known 
the North Durham intimately, and, as I have explained, I 
had a full season with the Durham County before the division 
took place, and scores of days in Christmas and Easter holi- 
days. My very earliest recollection of the Durham goes back 
to the late 'fifties, when as an infant I saw hounds at Wood- 
lauds, and scrambled after them on a pony. I think Tom 
Harrison must have been huntsman then, but I did not really 
know any huntsman until Dowdeswell came in 1867. Tom 
Harrison (whose nam© wets John) committed suicide in 1860, 
being afraid of going blind, and there was a quaint story cir- 
culated in the hunt for long enough afterwards to the effect 
that hounds were brought to a meet one morning by the two 
whippers-in. Up came the Master — Colonel Johnson — and 
asked where Tom was. " Please, sir, he's put himself down," 
answered the whip, sawing away at his cap, and v.'hen inquiries 
were made it was found that the story was true, and hounds 
were sent home. Colonel Johnson gave up the mastership at 
the end of the 1860-61 season, and was succeeded by the late 
Mr. John Henderson, M.P., for Durham City, who was only 
in office for a single season, and who was followed by a com- 
mittee, which w£ts in existence for two seasons. In 1865 Mr. 
Henderson came forward again in conjunction with Mr. John 
Harvey, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, and the joint mastership lasted 
until 1872, when the country was divided, and Mr. Harvey 
became the first Master of the South Durham. It was during 
this joint mastership that I had my first real spell of hunting, 
and as I always thought hunting the one great be all and end 
all of life, it will be understood that things impressed them- 
selves on my memory even more forcibly than they have since 
done. I can aictually remember certain hunts which took 
place in the season of 1867-8 almost field by field, and I can 
recall to mind nearly everyone who was hunting with the pack, 
how they rode, and so forth ; and one pathetic and yet comic 
scene I can remember which took place in Long Edge lane, 
just west of Browney Bank. Hounds had met at the place 


just named — as they did nearly every Monday when hunting 
the northern part of the country — and Dowdeswell, after five 
or ten minutes' law, moved up the lane, intending to draw 
the Freehold, and if he did not find there to go on to Rippon 
Burn. Neither of the Masters was present, and the hunts- 
man had not gone a quarter of a mile when he was suddenly 
ordei'ed to stop. What had happened was that a dispute had 
arisen between three magnates of the hunt, each of whom 
wanted some of his own coverts drawn, and it was not until 
hounds had moved off that they realised the pack were being 
taken to coverts owned by a fourth party, who did not hunt 
but was a fine fox preserver. I have explained that 
Browney Bank is handy for a whole string of coverts, but 
unless any special arrangements had been made it was cus- 
tomary to draw the Woodlands coverts first, and in this par- 
ticular case Dowdeswell had orders from Mr. Henderson to 
carry out the usual programme. But one member wanted 
the Triangle and Stobilee drawn; another wanted hounds to 
go to Butsfield, of which he had the shooting; and the third 
was most anxious for hounds to be taken to Stockerley Gill, 
and thence to the coverts near his home. Each of the three 
claimed that it was his turn, and Dowdeswell was assailed 
with a number of direct orders. There was a big field, who, 
I seem to remember, rather enjoyed the row, for the rivalry 
as to finds between these squires was rather pronounced at the 
time; but poor Dowdeswell was very much upset, and, after 
a time, he burst into tears, and, telling the whippers-in to 
look after the hounds, started to ride away, having stated in 
a broken voice that he was going home to send in his resigna- 
tion. Meantime the quairel was fast and furious, and there 
was talk of pistols for two or three couples at least, and so 
forth, and what might have happened one cannot say, but a 
deus ex machina in the person of a late comer appeared at a 
gallop, and announced that a fox had just crossed Long Edge 
a few hundred yards away. The huntsman was now out of 
sight, but the whips, without waiting for orders, galloped 
hounds to the spot, hit off the line, and, as luck would have 
it, fox and hounds almost crossed the huntsman — now more 
than a mile away — on his road home. The determination to 
resign was quickly forgotten, for Dowdeswell instantly joined 


the pack, and the run which followed was just good enough 
to cause a general all-round reconciliation. 

During the joint mastership hounds used to be three weeks 
at the Sedgefield kennels and three weeks at the Elvet Moor — 
or Farewell Hall as they were generally called — kennels, alter- 
nately ; and during the three Sedgefield weeks there was no fox 
hunting in North Durham, and then it was that hunting with 
beagles and harriers had in a great degree to take the place of 
the foxhounds. But John Greenwell, then a boy of about 
fifteen, was living at Broomshields, and being tutored by the 
rector of Lanchester, to whose house he rode when it suited 
him — but not oftener. Indeed, he never thought of going 
near the worthy rector on a hunting day, and his Saturdays 
were, quite as a matter of course, devoted to sport. Very 
eagerly we used to scan the meets of Mr. Cradock's hounds 
(now the Zetland) for a Saturday meet within riding distance, 
and if they met about Hamsterley, or anywhere within a 
few miles of Witton-le-Wear we used to join forces at High 
Stoop, and have at least a morning with these hounds. The 
unfortunate thing for us was that Mr. Cradock's hounds 
always began at the outside of their draw, and went down 
country for their afternoon fox. Also, foxes found about 
Hamsterley seemed to have a knack of going anywhere but in 
our direction; but I remember on one occasion a very nice 
hunting run which began at Brussleton, and which, after 
covering a lot of country in nearly three hours, was ended by 
a fox going into a drain just by the gate of Witton Castle, 
and this meant that we could get home in a little over an hour. 
Twice during this season I went to meets of the Durham 
County in the Sedgefield country with my father, but on the 
second occasion I jumped a fence on to a plough, which was 
hidden, and lamed my pony badly. Luckily this happened 
at the end of the season, but I remember the circumstance 
well because of two things. First, this pony, said to be by 
Sweetmeat, and most certainly thoroughbred, was the best 
pony I ever rode, being almost of polo size and very fast, 
and, secondly, when I had got the pony intO' a farmer's stable, 
and the farmer had kindly administered first aid, I had to 
walk some seven miles, from the neighbourhood of Great 
Stainton to Darlington, before I found a veterinary surgeon 


to send out to the farm. I have said that the Wolsingham 
haiTiers and the Durham beagles kept us going when the fox- 
hounds were at the other side of the coaintry, but during 
tlie particular season I have in mind Colonel Hawkes and 
Mr. Fred Lamb were joint Masters of the Newcastle and 
Gateshead harriers, and on at least three occasions these 
hounds were brought to High Wocdside Farm overnight and 
were often kept for a second day. High Woodside is situated 
in a delectable hare hunting country about two and a half 
miles east of Lanohester, and hounds would meet there one 
day, and at Newbiggen or Harbuck on the next, and betwei-n 
the two hunts there would be a gathering of the clans at 
Woodside Farm, and much festivity. The farmer was oae 
of the right sort, and the bast singer of " A southerly wind 
and a cloudy sky " I ever heard, and in order that his hos- 
pitality should not be too severely taxed, it was customary to 
send him a hamper of wine, and another of game, and so forth 
when he was threatened with a supper visitation. The joint 
Masters of the pack and other congenial spirits would be 
located at some of the neighbouring houses, but they all met 
at Woodside Farm about seven o'clock for a sort of picnic 
dinner — ^which always ended with songs and toasts. 

For some seasons the Durham County were a four days 
a week pack, but this was in the middle of the last century. 
I do not think they ever advertised four days in my recol- 
lection, though at times bye days were frequent. Mondays 
was for the west of the country, and three days out of four 
the meet was at Browney Bank. Wednesday meets were 
always on the east side of the Wear, about the coast from 
Silks worth to Castle Eden, and round about Shadforth and 
Elemore, and Friday was in the centre of the hunt, but almost 
invariably on the north side of the river Wear. The Brance- 
peth country was hunted on Fridays as a rule, and the country 
about Red House Gill and north as far as Lambton, and also 
the country round Sacriston and Hclmside. Lanchester was 
a Monday meet, but the first draw was the long-defunct whin 
at Boggle Hole, and if that failed hounds were generally 
taken westwards. Witton Gilbert, only four miles from 
Durham, was at times a Monday meet, and would be adver- 
tised with the addition of " for Hill Top," and this meant 


drawing west. On a Friday Witton Gilbert " for Langley " 
would be advertised, and this meant Sacriston, Nursingfield, 
and so forth. At the time I am writing of fields with the 
Durham County were very large compared with what they 
have since been. I was not often enough on the Sedgefield 
side of the country to be certain as to the numbers there, but 
when I did go — and a few years later I was there many times 
— the crowd was a large one. But it is of the Durham side 
that I can speak with knowledge, and I may explain that there 
were hunting people in nearly every country house between 
the city and the northern border of the hunt fourteen miles 
away, and many others from the neighbourhood of Chester-le- 
Street. There would be, at a low computation, five-and- 
twenty scarlets at a Browney Bank meet, but scarlet was, 
perhaps, more generally worn than it now is — at least in this 
particular country. Then, too, Mr. Harvey was a Newcastle 
man, and had a big following from his native town. Lan- 
chester is thirteen miles from Newcastle-on-Tyne, and Chester- 
le-Street eight miles from the same place, and as far as my 
recollection goes the biggest musters were at Chester Bar and 
Plawsworth Bar, both on the old coach road between Durham 
and Newcastle. Horses used to be sent to Lanchester over- 
night for Browney Bank meets, and their owners would drive 
the fifteen miles to the covert in the morning, except Mr. 
Harvey, who always hacked the full distance. In 1863 the 
Durham to Consett railway was opened, and it was possible to 
box to Lanchester or Knitsley, but. this involved a change 
at Durham for those coming from Newcastle or Sunderland, 
and though horses were sent by this route the hunting men 
usually held to the road. Three or four years later the rail- 
way was extended from Consett to Newcastle, and there was 
a handy train which left Newcastle a little before ten and 
brought hunting men and their horses to within a quarter 
of a mile of a Knitsley meet, or into Lanchester just at the 
right time. 

If hounds were at Browney Bank a little law would be 
allowed for the train contingent, and Knitsley became a 
favourite meeting place, and has remained so to this day. I 
have seen as many as seven horse boxes on this train while 
Mr. Harvey was in office, and four or five was a very usual 


number. I have even known hunting men use this train 
for a Witton Gilbert meet, and to be unboxing while hounds 
were hunting a fox in Hill Top covert, but Hill Top was a 
quick find, and the risk of being left very great, so tlia custom 
never became general. Witton Gilbert, it should be ex- 
plained, is the station south of Lanchester and four miles 
away, and the train was quite ten minutes later in arriving 
there. Why it should have been the case that almost every 
house in the country districts of North Durham contained 
hunting people two generations ago and why an almost exactly 
opposite state of affairs prevails at the present moment is 
one of those curious facts which occasionally present them- 
selves and can hardly be explained, but it is none the less 
true, and thus it is that fields in this particular country are 
in these days hardly a fourth the size of those I first knew. 
But beyond the absence of hunting people from a number of 
country houses there are two other reaisons, one of which is 
that after Mr. Harvey's retirement much of his following 
turned to the Tynedale and Morpeth for sport, and the other 
that Sunderland hunting people now go to the Zetland and 
the South Durham more frequently than to the North 
Durham. This is greatly due to the fact that the trains 
between Sunderland and Lanchester are most inconvenient 
from a hunting point of view, while to the two hunts further 
south they are so numerous that if one is missed another can 
be utilised. A third reason is that whereas a great number 
of hunting people were resident in Newcastle and its suburbs 
diiring Mr. Harvey's mastership, many of the hunting 
folk who are connected with the commercialism of Newcastle 
now live in the Tyne Valley, and the upshot is that 
the Tynedale fields are very considerably larger than 
those I can first remember, while in the Braes of Derwent 
country the increase has been even more marked, so much 
so, indeed, that I have counted 120 riders at a meet which I 
can remember attended by half a dozen only. But the 
western country of the North Durham is as good as ever it 
was from a scenting point of view ; it contains very little wire, 
and if there are not so many foxes as there were when hounds 
met so frequently at Browney Bank there are still quite 
enough for sport, for there were far too many some years ago, 


and this is proved by the fact. that. Mr. RogersxDii has killed 
mere than any of his predecessors did becan&e hei did not 
change so frequently. Time was when it was almost impossible 
to run a fox into any of dozens of Ncrtii Durham coverts with- 
out putting up fresh foxes, and on this point Mr. Majmard 
used to enlargei at. length and at. times would only have a very 
small tract of country stopped. " Shall I stop for your 
Lanchester meet on Monday? " would be asked. " Certainly 
not; there are far too many foxes above ground every Mon- 
day," he would say, and would chance running to ground. 
Now Mr. Rogerson often has ten miles of country stopped, 
but I am inclined to think he and his partner, Capt. Frank 
Bell, find just about the desirable number of foxes, for they 
are not so bothered with frequent, changes. 

Mr. Anthony Maynard's mastership of the North Durham, 
which extended over a period of twelve seasons, was a singu- 
larly happy one, first-rate sport being the rule rather than the 
exception from the first to the last season of the twelve. Mr. 
Maynard, who owned property at Skiningrove, not far from 
the Yorkshire coast, between Saltbum and Whitby, had been 
hunting all his life, chiefly with the Cleveland, the Hurworth, 
the Duke of Cleveland's (afterwards Mr. Cradock's, and now 
the Zetland). He was a fine judge of a hunter, being, in 
fact, almost world renowned in that capacity, for he judged 
at the Dublin Show when a very young man, and continued 
to officiate there, from time to time, until he was well advanced 
in years. He judged also at all the most important shows 
in the kingdom, and it was frequently said that his decisions 
were very seldom upset by other judges. He was not a 
young man, as far as years are concerned, when he came to 
Newton Hall, but when he took the North Durham he was 
physically the youngest man of his age we ever knew, and he 
had the spirits of a boy, and extraordinary enthusiasm for 
everything connected with horse and hound. He was a 
cheery optimist, in fact, and a rare sportsman, with very 
great knowledge of hunting, and he quickly became immensely 
popular in the North Durham. Indeed, he was hardly looked 
upon as a stranger, for the first Mrs. Maynard was a 
Wilkinson, of Harperley, in the North Durham country, 
while his second wife was a daughter of Canon Ridley, of 


Durham, and a cousin of Lord Ridley. It need hardly be 
said then that Mr. Maynard had some acquaintance with the 
country, especially the centre of it west of Durham, but the 
northern part he did not know, and I have a lively recollection 
of showing him the coverts in the extreme north of the hunt 
shortly before his first season commenced. He drove oiit 
from Newton Hall to Browney Bank, where I met him, and 
during a long summer afternoon I not only showed him all 
the coverts within a considerable distance of that place, but 
introduced him to many of the farmers. With these same 
farmers he quickly became a great favourite, and before he 
had completed his first season he probably knew a very great 
majority of those who farmed the land within the confines of 
the hunt. I may add that Mr. Maynard was a large and 
highly successful farmer himself, and if I recollect rightly 
he had some 600 acres of mixed land in his own hands round 
about Newton Hall, and I also remember that he had a big 
local reputation as a feeder of fat stock, who often secured 
the top prizes at the Christmas auctions. But it is Mr. 
Maynard's hunting that I have to do with now, and I must 
admit to having felt great admiration for his methods, as soon 
as I came to understand them, which was not until he had 
held office for at least two seasons. Indeed, between 1868 
and 1873 I did not see much of the Durham country, but 
had made acqiiaintance with many other packs, notably the 
Ledbury, Lord Coventry's (now the Croome), the Worcester- 
shire and North Herefordshire, Heythrop, Bicester, Old 
Berks, and South Oxfordshire. I had had four full seasons 
divided among these eight packs, and I had seen many other 
packs on odd days, and as I had been " taking stock " all 
the time I think I may say, with all modesty, that I was in a 
position to understand ^and appreciate the style in which 
Mr. Maynard was hunting the country. His hounds, to 
begin with, were to a great extent a scratch pack, for dumb 
madness had visited the pack shortly before the division of 
country was made, and though drafts had been sent as free 
gifts from many Masters, the pack was a scratch one in the 
sense that it had not been bred in North Durham. The 
kennels were at Newton Hall (Mr. Maynard's residence), and 
the Master at once began to breed hounds, and very soon had 


a good working pack, in which there was plenty of first-rate 
blood from high-class kennels, to say nothing of a strain of 
Welsh blood introduced, I think, by Captain Apperley. The 
gentleman just referred to, by the way, acted as huntsman 
for three months or so, one season, when Haverson, the pro- 
fessional huntsman, had broken his leg. At exactly what 
period this occurred I do not remember, but it was, I think, 
about the middle 'seventies, and I was out of the 
country most of the time, but recollect a first-rate day from 
Xiord Bute's, and another in the Comsay country. Captain 
Apperley, who had hunted harriers, otter hounds, and fox- 
hounds also, I believe, in Wales, was a born huntsman, and 
showed excellent sport. He was for many years secretary of 
the hunt. 

In 1884 Mr. Maynard resigned, and for the next four 
seasons the hunt was managed by a committee of four, Richard 
Preeman, who had followed Haverson as huntsman during 
Mr. Maynard' 3 last two seasons, continuing to carry the 
horn. Mr. Maynard was one of the original committee, the 
others being Lord Durham, the late Mr. (afterwards Sir) 
Lindsay Wood, and the late Mr. George Taylor Smith. 
There were changes during the four years, and for a season 
or two the late Mr. H. Chapman, of Silk&worth, repre- 
sented the Sunderland side of the country. For a time 
things worked well, but the fields gradually fell off in 
si^e, and this was due, not> to a lack of good sport, but 
because several very prominent hunting men had died, while 
one or two others were giving up hunting on account of in- 
creasing years. Fields, it should be mentioned, were very 
good throughout Mr. Maynard's mastership. It is true that 
the Newcastle-on-Tyne contingent rather fell away, though 
At odd times there would be a big visitation on a Monday, 
caused in a great measure by the fact that the Tynedale were 
meeting in the Capheaton and Kirkheaton district, twenty 
miles or so from Newcastle, and with no railway very near it. 
At such times, if the North Durham were near Knitsley or 
Lanchester there would be many horse boxes on the morning 
train from Newcastle, and a cheery meeting among many old 
hunting friends. But while Newcastle was not on the whole 
so well represented in the North Durham as it had been when 


Mr. Harvey was Master, there was throughout Mr. IMaynard's 
mastership a largely increased attendance from the Sunder- 
land side of the country, and this continued through the com- 
mittee period, and has not altogether ceased, though, as I 
have explained, the Zetland and the South Durham are now 
much more handy for the Sunderland division. What Mr. 
Mavnard found when he came was a resident population of 
foxhunters, and what Mr. Rogerson had to face when he took 
hold — after the committee period was over — in 1888, was a 
lot of big houses, either empty, or with few hunting people 
living in them. Still, the good fields continued, for a fair 
amount of fresh blood had joined the hunt, and there were 
always the " young 'uns coming on," to say nothing of a 
steady increase in the number of hunting ladi^. There was, 
after a time, a falling off on the east side of the country, as a 
matteir of course, for when certain parts of the country were 
given up, so few meets were within riding distance of many 
of the hunting folk that they were obliged to hunt by train, 
and this meant that packs which afiorded a better train service 
were preferred to the North Durham. The increase of indus- 
trialism was the real cause of this state of affairs, but now the 
hunting areas are very definitely marked, and attempt is 
seldom made to take hounds where there is a network of rail- 
ways, or a plethora of colliery villages. After Mr. Maynard 
resigned fresh kennels were requisitioned at Viewley Grange, 
on the Southill estate, owned by Colonel H. T. Fenwick, and 
Mr. Rogerson continued to use these kennels until 1906, when 
he built new kennels on his own property at Mount Oswald. 
The Viewley Grange kennels were rather too far north of all 
the most used country, and too far from the Master's residence, 
which is on the south side of Durham. Curiously enough, 
the new kennels are so near the old northern kennel of the 
Durham County pack that the same house in which Dowdeswell 
lived is used by the present kennel huntsman. In 1906 
Freeman retired, and since then Mr. Rogerson carried 
the horn, until, on account of his many duties in connection 
with the war, he was obliged to surrender his task to 
Hepple, who had been kennel hunlsonan during the previous 
season, Mr. Rogerson's long mastership has been a most 
successful one, during which a fine standard of sport has been 


maintained, except during a period of two or three seasons 
when mange played havoc with the country. All the northern 
packs were visited in turn by this terrible disease, but from 
what I saw and heard I think the North Durham suffered 
most, and for a time it was odds of 10 to 1 that every fox 
followed by hounds was mangy. For Mr. Rogerson and his 
staff the state of affairs was most exasperating, but they 
battled on in dogged fashion, putting down all the mangy 
foxes they could kill, destroying old earths, and bringing in 
new blood when a suitable place cotdd be found ; Norwegian 
foxes, perhaps of a rather bigger type than the original foxes 
of the district, were importeid, and after a year or two these 
seemed to strengthen and improve, and at the present day 
North Durham foxes are probably as good as can be found 
in any part of the kingdom. In 1919 Capt. Frank Bell joined 
Mr. Rogerson in the masitership, and for the la&t two seasons 
has acted aa huntsman to the pack. 


The Braes of Derwent Country. 

During the greater part of Mr. Rogerson's master sJiip of the 
North Durham — since 1896, to be exacti — Mr. Lewis 
Priestman hsis been IMaster of the Braea of Derwent 
hounds, which, as has: been explained, join the North 
Durham on its northern boundary. Time was when the 
two hunt.3 were very separate and distinct affairsi, each 
having its own field, and neither going very frequently 
over its own border. But during the last twenty years there 
has been a gradual but steady increase of general interest 
between the two hunts, caused by members of each hunt 
hunting constantly with the other. The two establishments 
are of course quite distinct, and the boundaries of the two 
hunts well defined ; but as many as two-thirds of the North 
Durham field are very regular in their attendance at the 
Saturday meets of the Braes of Derw^ent, and the Master and 
other members of the last-mentioned pack rarely miss a North 
Durham Monday. It is only when the North Durham are on 
the south side of the Wear or the Braes of Derwent in their 
Blaydon country that the field is not composed of people living 
in either country, and, as a matter of fact, most of the hunting 
people between the Wear and the Tyne are now members of 
both hunts. The two Masters have been friends from boy- 
hood, and motor-cars and increased train services have so 
facilitated matters that it is quite simple to reach meets of 
hoimds that were a generation ago almost impossible. Then, 
again, either pack runs moi'e frequently into the other's 
country than was formerly the case ; and this is perhaps rather 
difficult to understand, but is nevertheless a fact. I can 
remember a season in which I never missed a Monday with 
the North Durham, and never saw them over their northern 
boimdary, and I can remember another, about the same 
period of time, in which they ran once to the Pont from 
Gladdow. More recently I have seen the Braes of Derwent 


go well into North Durham country five or six times in a 
season, and the longest point I ever saw with the North 
Durham took hounds right across the Braes of Derwent country 
into the Hay don country beyond. Of course, there may 
have been many incursions on the part of one pack or the 
other when I was not present, or which I have forgotten ; but 
the Braes of Derwent now hunt the western end of the 
Derwent valley much more frequently than they did in 
Colonel Cow en's time, and as most of the incursions begin in 
the Sneep district I have little doubt but that their increased 
number is greatly due to the fact that the chances of such 
incursions have been more than doubled owing to the greater 
number of westerly meets. These incursions of either pack ax^e 
very popular, though five people out of every six who may be 
hunting when they take place are just as much at home in 
the invaded country as in the country left. 

The Braes of Derwent country as regards its physical condi- 
tions is in many respects very different from its neighbour. 
It is perhaps in the lie of the land that the chief difference 
is to be found, for whereas all the best part, of the North 
Durham is a high-lying semi-plateau, with innumerable small 
folds in the ground, the Braes of Derwent country is inter- 
sected by a backbone or ridge of hill, from which the ground 
slopes gradually to the Derwent on the south and to the Tyne 
on the north side. This ridge is about twenty miles in length, 
rising abruptly some four miles west of Newcastle-on-Tyne, 
just where the Derwent joins the Tyne, and continuing west- 
wards until it is lost in the moorlands. The rise in the 
height of the ridge is very gradual, but in the centre of the 
country it reaches 1000 ft., and hereabouts the rivers are five 
and six miles away from the ridge, the intervening country 
consisting for the most part of pasture land, all on a gentle 
slope, and which is excellent scenting ground. Mr. Priest- 
man's kennels are at Tinkler Hill, half a mile from Shotley 
Bridge, on the Durham side of the Derwent; but about 
nine-tenths of the hunting takes place in Northumber- 
land, and yet the kennels are fairly well placed, no meet 
being more than about ten miles away. The fact is, the 
country is long in proportion to its width, for the hunting 
area has been gradually changed, and now hounds seldom 


go far east and south of the river Derwent, whereas in 
earlier days they hunted a large tract of country which 
included Ravensworth, Taniield, Beamish, and Urpeth, and 
which now contains too' many collieries for sport, though in 
an ordinary way Mr. Priestman takes hounds to Beamish Hall 
once a year, and always finds foxes — ^which are difficult to 
hunt on account of the surroundings. Much of this country 
belonged at one time to the North Durham, and I have seen 
Mr. Maynard's hounds draw TIavensworth, Urpeth, and 
Beamish, and run to the Causey coverts near Tanfield ; but 
some five and twenty years ago a passenger line from Birtley 
(on the main London and Edinburgh railway) to Consett was 
opened, and the Masters O'f the North Durham and Braes of 
Derwenti agreed that this sihould be the boundary line between 
the two hujitsi. A hundred years ago all thisi country was part 
of Mr. Ralph Ijarabton'g hunt, his northern kennelsi being in 
Lambton Park, not three miles from Urpeth, and foxes used to 
travel between Lambton and the immediate neighbourhood and 
the lower end of the Derwent valley. Indeed the late Mr. John 
Taylor Ramsey, who had seventy years' experience of hunting 
in this district, and who died a few years ago, when not far 
short of ninety years of age, used to tell me how he was 
blooded by Ralph Lambton in Axwell Park with a fox which 
had been brought from the neighbourhood of Penshaw, and 
was killed by the lake at Axwell. No doubt the country was 
entirely open in those pre-railway days, when the coal industry 
was in its infancy; but the face of the country has been 
greatly changed between the places named, though Mr. 
Rogerson only gave up drawing round about Penshaw a few 
years ago. Before describing the coverts and the present hunt- 
ing area of the Braes of Derwent country it will perhaps be 
as well to say something as to the history of the pack, and I 
may at once state that an impenetrable veil of mystery 
svirrounds the early hunting of the district. We know that a 
Mr. Humble, of Eltringham, had a trencher-fed pack of fox- 
hounds towards the close of the eighteenth century, and we 
also know that a Mr. Humble was hunting the country when 
Sir Matthew White Ridley was hunting on the northern bank 
of the Tyne. Now, Sir Matthew's pack was, according to all 
available authorities, established in 1818, and he hunted 



what are the Morpeth and Tynedale countries — or at least a 
considerable part of them. Nearly opposite Mr. Humble's 
house at Eltringham is a fine Tynedale covert, known as 
Horsley Wood, and Mr. Humble had been in the habit of 
taking his hounds there long before Sir Matthew had a pack 
of hounda. But Mr. Humble's hounds were trencher fed, and 
perhaps rather poorly supported. Anyhow, when an orthodox 
and smart hunting establishment was established north of the 
Tyne the landowners one and all transferred their allegiance 
to the new hunt, and Mr. Humble had to curtail his forays 
on what are now the Tynedale coverts. The story goes that 
Sir Matthew's hounds on one occasion drew Horsley Wood 
blank, and while hounds were drawing a gamekeeper informed 
the Master that the covert had been well routed out on the 
previous day by " the Eltringham dogs." Sir Matthew was 
veiy angry and as he reached the end of the covert where the 
field was gathered he saw Mr. Humble and opened on him 
in voluble language. For five minutes at least he poured forth 
a volley of abuse, and then stopped to take breath, when 
" Squire " Humble, as he was always called, took his pipe 
out of his mouth, and quietly observed, " Gan on. Sir 
Mattha " (local for Matthew), " gan en; I can bide a bit 
mair." The baronet's battery was completely spiked, as the 
field burst into a roar of laughter, and, as the polo people 
say. Humble rode off with all the honours of victory. 

It is probable that after Mr. Humble's death there was a 
period in which the Braes of Derwent country was unhunted, 
for I can find no record of the Durham County pack travel- 
ling so far north, but they ran into it occasionally, and I believe 
most frequently between the Durham coverts at Greencroft 
and that part of the Derwent Valley which is known as the 
Pont Gill. But in 1837 a new pack, called the Prudhoe and 
Derwent Hounds, were established, and hunted the eastern 
part of the country for several seasons. How long this pack 
was in existence I am not sure, and I have never been able 
to find evidence of its doings after the year 1843. In that 
year Mr. Thomas Ramsay was Master, and he may have held 
on a year or two longer, but of that I am not certain. Some 
time during the forties there was a pack of foxhounds at 
Slaley, trencher fed, I believe, and they hunted what is now 


the westeirn part of the Braes of Dei^went country, and a great 
deal of the present Haydon country. 

Slaley is just within the present Haydon boundary, and 
it should be explained that the Haydon began as a harrier 
pack, and its records go back to 1809. I have, or had, a 
Haydon button which was engraved with the letters H. H. 
and a running hare, and this button was taken from a scarlet 
coat, with a stand-up collar, which had been originally worn 
by a member of the Lee family, of Land Ends, near Haydon 
Bridge, and it was thought that the coat had been made al:)out 
1830, ox a little, but not more than a year or two, later. 
When the Haydon changed from hare to fox I do' not Jcnow, 
but Mr. Nicholas Maughan, of Newbrough, was Master of the 
pack known as the Slaley prior to 1845, when he took over 
what is now the Tynedale countiy, of which he was the first 
Master. It should be further explained that Mr. Ralph 
Lambton's hounds were given up — owing to the ill-health of 
their owner — in 1838, and that for five or six seasons there 
was a hunt named the " Northumberland and North Ilur- 
ham," of which Mr. Robertson, of Lees, was Master. Where 
exactly they hunted it is difficult to say, but all my inquiries 
go to prove that they were much more on the north than on 
the south side of the Tyne, and I have never heard that they 
hunted the Derwent Valley.* Sir Matthew White Ridley, 
who had what are now the Tynedale and Morpeth countries, 
was, with his son, in office until 1844, and the Northumberland 
and Durham Hunt was dissolved a year later; but I believe 
Sir Matthew had given up or lent some of his country to the 
newcomer, who, it is just possible, also hunted that part of the 
North Durham which is nearest the sea, and is now unhunted 
because of the increased population. 

What is pretty certain is that in the 'forties the Prudhoe 
and Derwent were hunting the small country which now 
forms the eastern part of the present Braes of Derwent 
country, and that when the Slaley pack were in existence the 
boundary of the two countries was the Watling Street, which 
crosses the Derwent at Ebchester and the Tyne at Corbridge, 

* It is explained farther on that this pack hunted in North Northum- 
berland, and that their country included a portion of the County of 
Durham which was there located, 

E 2 


or possibly the Milkwell Burn, which rises on the ridge near 
Ash Tree, and reaches the Derwent a mile or so east of 
Ebchester. From the top of the ridge on its northern side 
another burn or brook has its spring, and reaches the Tyne 
near Wylam; and I have heard it argued that these two 
brooks, which to a great extent form the county boundary 
between Northumberland and Durham, were also the 
boundary of the two hunts. On the other hand, I have heard 
the late Mr. Thos. Ramsay say that he used to meet at Whit- 
tonstall, on the Watliiig Street, almost midway between the 
Tyne and Derwent, and also at Branch End, which is many 
miles west of Wylam. It is of little consequence now, and it 
is also quite certain that these hunts of between seventy and 
eighty years ago were not very particular as to their 
boundaries, for they were very primitive affairs as compared 
with present-day hunts, and in every way far more local than 
are the modern establishments. By this I mean that they 
were hardly heard of outside their own district, that their 
following was small and greatly composed of farmers, that they 
included no hunt clubs and did not always posisess a com- 
mittee, that they seldom advertised, that they hunted with 
many fewer hounds that is now considered orthodox, that they 
invaded each other's districts almost whenever it suited them, 
and that they knew or cared very little about the pomp and 
circumstance of the sport. But for all that they meant busi- 
ness, for the moving spirits were chiefly young men, many of 
whom were hunting regularly with more pretentious and 
better turned out packs, but who nevertheless found time to 
harry the foxes round their homes with what Surtees — perhaps 
very aptly described as a " cry of dogs." 

Mr. Thomas Ramsay — always called Tom — -was quite a 
character, but more of a riding than a hunting man. I 
remember when I was a youngster hearing him described as 
" a devil to gallop and jump," but from what I have heard 
he was not much of a hound man, and a veteran who^ used 
to hunt with him used to speak of his pack as being " of all 
sizes and shapes." Mr. Ramsay was, however, a jovial man 
and a bit of a wag, and I was once present when he floored a 
" nut " of the period in fine style. The incident happened a 
great many years ago, long after Mr. Ramsay had given up 


huuting, and at a time when he thought more of the gun than 
of horse or hound. He was then living at Sherburn Tower, 
and whenever he travelled on the local railway his company 
was eagerly sought by any of the youngsters who might be 
using the same train. On this particular occasion four or five 
of us were in a railway carriage in Newcastle station, and the 
train was on the point of starting when a tremendous swell, 
followed by a porter bearing luggage, arrived just in time to 
secure the only vacant seat. A perfect armoui-y of gun cases 
and other shooting paraphernalia were handed in and stowed 
away on the rack, and the train had hardly left the station 
before the newcomer gave tongue. He was affable to- a degreei, 
and though we were all strangers to him he at once fired off a 
volley of questions as to the locality, the shooting, and so 
forth. He was bound for the moors further up the line, and 
he had just left a Scotch moor, where — according to his own 
account^ — he had done wonderful things. Stories of his 
prowess were poured out in quick succession, and at last he 
told us how a day or two before he had bagged thirteen grouse 
with twelve cartridges. Mr. Ramsay sat in the corner, with 
a merry twinkle in his eye, and at last struck in: " That's 
nothing," he said, " nothing wonderful at least. I once had 
nine shots at the same hare, and never touched it, and that 
w^as thirty years ago, before most of you were born." Our 
new friend rose like a fish to the bait. " Excuse me," he said, 
" but thirty years ago there were only muzzle loaders, and if 
you did not touch the hare it would have been in the next 
parish before you were ready to fire again." " That's all 
you know about it," replied Mr. Ramsay. " It was like this. 
I was standing in the comer of a field, and in front of me, 
about thirty yards away, there was a large haystack. After 
a while I saw a hare coming quietly along by the stack. I 
fired and missed, and loaded again, and the hare went out of 
sight. But she kept on cantering round the stack, and every 
fifth time she came past I had a shot and missed." The story- 
was received with roars of laughter, and was the last story 
told in that particular train that afternoon. 

After Mr. Ramsp.y gave up the Prudhoe and Derwent 
hounds there was a break of ten or eleven years before the 
lat-e Mr. Wiliam Cow en formed his pack, and it is questionable 


whether the eastern end of the county was hunted at all 
regularly during this period. The Slaley hunted the north- 
west part of the district, more particularly the country about 
Healey and Minster acres, and Mr. Maughan was Master of 
the pack, but, as has been explained, in the late 'forties he 
hunted a great deal of what is now the Tynedale country as 
well, and all the information I have been able to gather goes 
to suggest that though he paid a good deal of attention to the 
country south ol the Tyue he seldom went east of the West 
Auckland turnpike, which crotises the Derwent at Allansford 
and reaches the Tyne at Corbridge. My father had much of 
his early hunting with Mr. INIaughan, and he used to tell me 
that so much country was available it was impossible to hunt 
it all anything like fairly. I re'm ember Mr. Maughan very 
well as a neat, horsey-looking man, not unlike Mr. John 
Elarvey, of Durham, in his get-up and general ai3pearance, 
and I have always heard that he was devoted to sport. It 
was a son of his who many years later was for a few seasons 
Master of the Haydon, and who had several disputes with the 
Tynedale abont the boundaries of the two hunts. The fact 
is, that this boundary question was always a difficult one 
after there came to be more orthodox packs in the district, 
and the trouble probably arose because of Mr. Maughan 
taking over the Tynedale country, or a great part of it, when 
the Northumberland and North Durham Hunt was dissolved 
in 1845; while he at the same time retained and hunted the 
Slaley country. A hunting atlas, published in 1856, bears 
out my idea as tO' the Ebchester to Riding Mill-road being the 
boundary between the Slaley and the Prudhoe and Derwent, 
for in the year just named, when Mr. Maughan was Master of 
the Tynedale, and hunting occasionally in the Slaley district 
as well, the newly-formed Tynedale country, according to the 
map, included on the south of the Tyne all the western side 
of the present Braes of Derwent country and all the eastern 
end of the present Haydon country. Indeed, the boundary 
on the map is almost the line of the road — Riding Mill to 
Ebchester — and this map was published after and not before 
Mr. William Cow en established his pack. All the Shotley 
coverts and the Sneep are marked as Tynedale country in this 
map, but I never heard of the Tynedale drawing either of 


the places just named. On the other hand, I have seen the 
Tynedale draw Minsteracres frequently, even during Mr, 
Straker's mastership, but not since Mr. Priestman took 
the Braes of Derwent. I have also seen the present 
Master of the Tynedale draw the Whin covert at Birkenside, 
which is actually in the Derwent Valley, and I have seen the 
Tynedale run to Broadoak, which is on the Derwent, a couple 
of miles east of the Ebchester to Riding Mill-road. 

But leaving the boundary question for a moment, I must 
mention that for several seasons, in the late 'forties and early 
'fifties, my father, the late Mr. J. B. Richardson, 
had a pack of foxhounds which were kennelled at 
Castleside, a mile south of Allansford, and which 
for some years had sport which \aried a good deaJ 
but was at times brilliant. The pack, which never exceeded 
fifteen and was more often only twelve couples, was — curiously 
enough — first got together for the purpose of hunting wild roc- 
deer, which were then exceedingly numerous at the Sneep, 
Lord Bute's plantations and other big coverts in the Derwent 
Valley, and also on the Woodlands Estate, which, as the crow 
flies, is only two miles from Lord Bute's and about four 
from the Sneep. Deer used to' travel between these various 
strongholds constantly, and there is still an odd one left, 
capable of giving a good deal of trouble when hounds take 
up his line in a big woodland. It was decided then that these 
deer should be hunted, and the Duke of Cleveland, with whose 
hounds Mr. Richardson frequently hunted, gave a draft of five 
or six couples, which was supplemented by odd couples from 
other kennels. But the deer received very little attention. 
They were difficult to find, and foxes were numerous, and it 
quickly became the custom to hunt the foxes and leave the 
deer to be shot. The hunt was a very private one; it never 
advertised, and had no very regular hunting days, because its 
chief supporters were hunting with other packs, while a good 
many of them were engaged in business. Besides Mr. 
Richardson, the late Colonel Hawkes, Mr. G. Hopper Burnett 
of Black Hedley, and the Bros. " Tom " and John Ramsay, 
were the most regular followers, and Mr. Surtees, the creator 
of Jorrooks, used to look on, mounted on a cob, but seldom 
took part in a run. Then there was a Yorkshireman named 


George Maw, who' for some years lived at Riddlehamliope, 
west of Blaiichland, and he not only never missed a day with 
these hounds, but looked after stopping all the length of the 
Derwent Valley from the Sneep to his own place of residence, 
and was a sort of right-hand man to the hunt. This Mr. Maw 
was a very hard man across country, who rode thoroughbred 
cast-offs from the racecourse, and I remember when I was a 
very small boy being shown certain high walls he had jumped 
on Black Hedley farm, and thinking what a hero he must have 

The " Castleside Dogs," as they were spoken of locally, 
doubtless furnished the talented author of Jorrocks with many 
ideas, but I am very strongly of opinion that nearly all of 
Surtees's best characters were of the composite order, that he 
took a certain peculiarity from one man, another trait from 
another man, and so forth, and that even in the matter of his 
many descriptions of costume he pursued the same line of 
action. It has, however, been an article of faith in the 
Derwent Valley for sixty years or more that Joseph — " Jos." 
Kirk he was always called — supplied a great deal of the general 
make-up of James Pigg. Kirk was a blacksmith by trade, 
but endowed with an extraordinary love of hunting. He was 
also a very determined horseman, who knew no fear, but he 
was hard on his mounts, and had no idea of saving them. He 
acted as huntsman to the Castleside pack, and certain stories 
are to be found about him and the Master, Mr. Richardson, 
in Hvnting in the Olden Times, by "W. Scarth Dixon. Whether 
Kirk was ever in the employ of Mr. Surtees I have never been 
able to find out, but I should explain that for a period after 
he came into the Hamsterley estate Mr. Surtees had a pack 
of harriers, with which he hunted the neighbourhood of his 
home. Hamsterley Hall is situated in the Derwent Valley, 
rather less than four miles from the present Braes of Derwent 
kennels and about double the distance from Castleside, and 
Mr. Surtees was living there and writing throughout the whole 
existence of the Castleside pack. But earlier in the eighteenth 
century a Mr. Brewis, who lived at the Hag, now part of the 
Hamsterley estate, also had a pack of harriers, and Mr. 
Richardson always had au idea that Kirk had been in his 
employ. Kirk was not by any means a young man when he 


v/as at Castleside, and soon after the hounds were given up 
he left the district and was supposed to have gone back to 
Newcastle from which place he originally came. Some years 
ago an effort to trace him was made, but no trustworthy 
information v/as forthcoming, but it is almost certain that 
he had no further engagement in connection with hunting. 
Anyhow, he used many of the sayings which are put into 
Pigg's mouth by Surtees, and it will be remembered that 
when he (Pigg) makes his first appearance in the novel, 
Handley Cross, he speaks of having hunted with " Tynedale 
and D'orm (Durham) and Horworth and all." It is said 
that when Kirk lived at Castleside, which is within a mile of 
the Durham border he got a great deal of hunting with the 
Durham County — that he would be riding a farmer's three- 
year-old one day, a cart-horse the next, and an old pony on 
the third, and that, when he could not raise a horse, he hunted 
all day on foot, and was, as Surtees wrote of Romford, " a 
capital hand across country, whether on foot or on horseback." 
While I am on the subject of Surtees I may allude to 
some recent correspondence which has lately appeared con- 
cerning him in a weekly contemporary. The question of the 
whereabouts of Handley Cross Spa has been discussed, and 
Leamington, Cheltenham, and other places have been men- 
tioned, and more especially Croft. Probably the real fact 
is that the author indulged in a combination just as he used 
half a dozen people to make up one ol his characters; but of 
one thing I am almost sure, and that is that he never disclosed 
his originals, either of men or places. He was latterly a some- 
what silent man, and at no time was he what he would have 
called a " babbler." His conversation al powers were chiefly 
reserved for paper, and I remember, when quite a youngster 
(about five years old), how he took me on to his knee at a 
hunt breakfast, but said nothing, and there I sat, not liking 
to move, but wanting to go to the hounds outside. And 
apropos the Croft theory, one of the recent letters was from 
Charles Fox, who was huntsman to the Blackmore Vale from 
1890 to 1897, and who says that, when he was whipping- 
in to the Hurworth, some years before, Mr. Surtees used to 
come there not to hunt but to fish in the Tees. V/ith all 
due deference, I think this story is probably v/rong. In the 


first place, Mr. Surtees died in 1864, fifty-eight years ago, and 
though I am not certain about it, I imagine Fox's service 
with the Hurworth was at a later datei. Croft, is on 
the Yorkshire side of the Tees, Hamsterley on the extreme 
north of the county of Durham, some of the Surtees property 
being in Northumberland and yet only a mile or two away. 
And as there are other families of Surtees in South Durham, 
I think it probable that it was another Mr. Surtees which 
Fox remembers. The name of " Handley Cross " is taken 
from the Hamsterley estate, there being to this day a high 
bridge over a brook, between the lodge and the house, which 
was always called Handley Cross Bridge. The one character 
one knows of in Surtees's book which was actually drawn from 
a single man was that of " Independent Jimmy," in Rom- 
ford's hounds. He was a man who drove a two-horse covered 
waggonette between Newcastle-on-Tyne and Shotley Bridge, 
before the railway was made. The 'bus passed the Ham- 
sterley lodge every day, and its driver was on the road many 
years after Surtees died, and was absolutely true to the 
description. Even the story told in connection with Mr. 
Stotfold's staghounds was practically true, for the 'bus driver 
— whose name was either Bell or Brown — did actually take 
one of his horses and join in a hunt, leaving three market 
women sitting in his 'bus, to which he returned an hour and 
a half later, and calmly resumed his journey. Another 
character who has his original in the Derwent Valley was Mr. 
" Jogglebury Crowdey," who was Surtees's own tenant at 
Milkwell Burn. This worthy, whose name I have forgotten, 
was half -gentleman, half -farmer, and was constantly in 
trouble for trespassing after " gibby sticks." His costume, 
as he appeared in Sponge's Sporting Tmir, was exactly repro- 
duced from life, and also his " puff, blow, wheeze." He 
followed hounds for the puirpose of stick hunting, and there 
was a constant trespass feud between him and the Government 
official who resided at Chopwell House, in Chopwell Wood, 
a 1200-acre plantation, owned by the Crown, and undoubtedly 
the original of Pinch Me Near Forest. The description of 
Pinch Me Near in Handley Cross exactly tallies with the real 
Chopwell, and with such material at hand it is hardly likely 
that the author would go elsewhere when he wanted to describe 


a forest, owned by the Crown, and administered by an official 
who had an enormous opinion of himself. It would be possible 
to name many people who afforded Surtees some of the pecu- 
liarities of a number of his best-known characters, and among 
these there would not be a single name which has appeared 
in the recent correspondence, but, as I have already mentioned, 
it is any reasonable odds that all the best figures in the series 
of novels were of compound character, and my views would 
merely be those which were adopted by residents of the locality 
in which lived at the time the novels v/ere published. 
About the Spa I may say that in the 'thirties of the last century 
Shotley Spa was opened, a hotel built, and some attempt made 
to establish an inland watering place. It came to- little, how- 
ever, but that Surtees got his idea of a spa from that fact is 
exceedingly probable. Also it is probable that many of the 
scenes described in connection with Jorrocks had a local 
original, and notably the run to Ongar Castle, for the bath 
scene is said to have taken place at Seaton Delaval, on the 
Northumberland coast, and less than twenty miles from Ham- 
sterley, and there is a legend that hounds — what hounds I do 
not know — ran from the Derwent Valley to the Tyne, crossed 
the river, and ran to the sea at the very place. 

The Castleside pack had plenty of country — more, indeed, 
than they could hunt properly, considering how small the 
establishment was. They could go west as far as the moors, 
and by arrangement they drew the Woodlands coverts. Lord 
Bute's, Sheiep walks, and other places in the Durham County 
hunt during the three alternate weeks that the county pack 
were at Sedgefield. Mr. Richardson used to speak of having 
had the best sport from Sheepwalks, and no doubt this portion 
of the Durham hunt was then very wild and open and full of 
foxes. Wire fencing was unknown and foxes were held sacred 
by the farmers, who dearly loved a hunt. Many of the best 
coverts — and the shooting at Lord Bute's for a long period — 
were owned by Mr. Richardson's father, who' then occasionally 
resided at Woodlands, so there was no trouble about stopping. 
All the same, the twO' best hunts which occurred during the 
life of the pack both had their beginning in the Derwent 
Valley. The first of these began at the Sneep, and hounds 
actually ran to the steep hill above Hexham, where they 


checked in a garden, and where Kirk, off his horse and looking 
for his fox, encountered the owner of the garden and had a 
rough-and-tumble sort of scrap with him. This incident, it 
has always been understood, was the foundation of the Pigg 
and the melon-frame story in Handley Cross, and there is 
every probability of its being true. But, curiously enough, 
the hunt was not at an end, for while the altercation was in 
progress the fox was seen creeping up the hill behind the 
garden, and hounds actually ran right back to the Sneep. On 
the outward journey they went by Espershields, and thence 
near Slaley, and on to Swallowfield, and over the hill to Hex- 
ham. On the return journey they again went through 
Swallowfield, and then over Corbridge Fell, and so to Minister- 
acres and the Sneep. The fox avoided Dipton, the biggest 
covert in the country, and from the fact that he went right 
back to where he was originally found it is only reasonable to 
assume that there was no change. Still, the distance is very 
great, with an eleven-mile point each way, but the pace was 
never great, and — I have been told — there were fewer foxes 
at the time north ol the Derwent than there were on the south 
side. Mr. Richardson used to say that in the late 'forties and 
'fifties the Derwent Valley was stuffed full of foxes, but they 
were difficult to find on the higher ground near Minsteracres 
and Kellas. The Sneep was, as it is now, a gr^eat stronghold, 
and so also were the coverts near Blanchland. The hunt I 
have just described is, I find, mentioned in Hunting in the 
Olden Days, and so are two others, which I do not remember 
to have heard of, but the other great hunt I have in mind is 
not referred to in Mr. Scarth Dixon's book, and I wrote down 
the particulars when I heard the story some years ago from 
my father himself. 

I always knew vaguely of this run which the late Mr. 
Matthew Kearney of the Ford was fond of describing, and 
the description he used to give tallied almost exactly with Mr. 
Richardson's own account, but the latter used to say that Mr. 
Kearney only joined in half-way. The run in question took 
place in 1856, or the following year, after a meet at Shotley 
Lodge, where Mr. Richardson then resided, and where the 
present kennels are situated. Now there is a building 
estate half a mile south of the house, and a hill behind, 


where there are many rows of cottages. Sixty years 
ago there was a single farmhouse where there is now a big 
population!, and it was all plain sailing over the top of the 
ridge between Medo-msley and Consett, where, indeed, there 
were heather-covered fields and larch plantations, and which 
were still in existence when I was a boy. There is, just above 
the present kennels, a long, narrow gill, which then was almost 
a mile in length, and was called Whiteside Plantation. 
The name is lost now, and much of the plantation disappeared 
when the branch line from Newcastle to Consett was made 
in the 'sixties ; but the gill, before the railway workers came, 
was a sure find, and on the occasion referred to hounds found 
in it, and went over Beiry Edge farm to Bunker's Hill, where 
they checked for some time. Indeed, they were on the point 
of going back to the covert, which had only been half drawn, 
when a single hound was seen a quarter of a mile in front. 
The pack were taken on, and ran to Boggle Hole, in the 
Durham country, whence they bore right-handed over the 
valley of the Smallhope to Newbiggen. They then crossed 
the since frequently used point-to-point course diagonally, and 
ran by the Roman encampment to Holly Bush, then a young 
gorse covert. They did not stop here, but went by Hamsteels, 
under the hill at Esh, and on to Hill Top, which, in those 
days, was not only a strong covert but had a big gorse on its 
western side. There was some delay here, but hounds got 
through the gorse and the wood beyond, and, going on faster 
than before, ran to the outskirts of Durham, killing their fox 
at Western Hill, a bare half-mile from the cathedra!. Mr. 
Richardson used to say that the pace from Bunker's Hill to 
Holly Bush was good, that they went very slowly, picking it 
out field by field between Holly Bush and Hill Top, and then 
went a cracker to the end. He also used to add that before 
they had broken the fox up more people had arrived than had 
been with him at the start. It happened to be a very fine 
day, and nearly sieventy years ago on any fine day lots of people 
would he riding about the country, and throughout the hunt 
they were constantly joined by the local population who had 
not been at the meet. From Shotley Bridge, half a mile from 
the scene of the find, to Durham is fourteen milea by a road 
which, in parts, follows) the Watling-street, and which is very 


straight all the way. ITounds were never more than two' miles 
away from the road, and the point is just oiver twelve miles, 
while the country from the high ground at Berry Edge wa&, at 
that time — before there was a single colliery or a single line of 
rails in the Lanchester valley — capital riding-ground, three- 
quarters at least being grass, and the rest arable. Only three 
coverts were touched. Boggle Hole, Holly Bush, and Hill Top, 
and the two first-named are very small places, while Hill Top 
perhaps extends over thirty acres. About the time I have no 
information, and if it was taken it has long been forgotten, 
nor did the hunt ever find its way into print. But in my 
young days it was still being talked of when good runs were 
under discussion, and the late Mr. Edward Waldy, of 
Barmpton, near Darlington, who was staying at Shotley Lodge 
at the time, used to speak of it as " about the best thing he 
ever saw." 

About the " Castleside dogs " I have little more to say. 
From all the accounts which I used to hear they had plenty of 
fun for several seasons, and they were lucky in having a 
country in which there was little game preservation, except 
on the moors, next to no population, and some half-dozen 
enthusiasts to keep the game going. The forfeited Derwent- 
water estates, which covered a great deal of the country, had 
not then been broken up and sold, and there was also the 
Crown land about Chopwell. Further west a great deal of 
good country, with many coverts, was owned by the Dean and 
Chapter of Durham, or by Lord Crewe's trustees, which 
estates now belong to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The 
latter body, like their predecessors, are equally well disposed 
towards sport, and this Mr. Priestman has found during his 
six and twenty years of mastership. I may perhaps be allowed 
toi quote a footnote which is to be found on page 360 of 
Huntinfj in Olden Days, which is as follows: — 

" Stephen Goodall jumped in and out of the railway gates 
when with the Bramham Moor, and another fine jumping per- 
formance was that of the late Mr. Jonathan Richardson, who 
jumped in and out of a sheepfold at Stagshaw Bank. The 
walls were 5 ft. and 5 ft. 3 in. high, and the top courses were 
mortared. . . ." 

In 1854 a new hunt was formed in the Derwent Valley by 


the late Mr. William Cowen, a son of Sir Joseph Cowen, and 
brother of the well-known politician, Mr. Joseph Cowen, and 
of Colonel John Cowen, who succeeded his brother as Master. 
All the brothers have been dead for a long period of time, bub 
for fnrty years two of them kept the country going on an 
almost nominal subscription, and enjoyed such popularity as 
is not always .vouchsafed to a Master of Hounds. Mr. 
William Cowen held office from 1854 to 1868, and Colonel 
Cowen from his brother's resignation until 1895, and for the 
greater part of the time the kennels were at Coal Burns, 
which is towards the eastern end of the ridge which divides 
the Tyne and Derwent valleys, and very central for the lower 
or Newcastle end of the country, but which involved long 
journeys to the western meets. Mr. William Cowen was a 
very keen sportsman, who kept racehorses and greyhounds 
as well as foxhounds, and who will be remembered by turfites 
as the owner of the first Ladas, which horse he sold to Lord 
Rosebery, then an Oxford undergraduate, for a large sum. 
The hor§e did not fulfil expectations, but his original owner 
was not to blame for that, nor had he overrated the colt's 
abilities as a two year old. I remember William Cowen well. 
He was a remarkably handsome man, and in hunting clothes 
suggested the type which is to be found in Herring's later 
hunting scenes. He was tall and a biggish weight, but got 
over a country in fine style, and was terribly keen on hunting. 
What country exactly he hunted on the north-western side of 
the present Braes of Derwent country I hardly know, for the 
Tynedale used to. come at times tx) Minsteracres and Healey 
throughout all the Cowen period, and in point of fact they 
were the real possessors of this part of the country, as suc- 
cessors to the Slaley hunt. But their visits were mostly paid 
in the cubhunting period, and during the spring of the year, 
and it is a fact that Mr. Cowen's hounds did very little cub- 
hunting at any time, and practically none during the later 
years of Colonel Cowen's mastership. But there was never 
any question about the district west of Shotley Bridge, for 
though the map of 1856 made it Tynedale country, that pack 
never came there, whereas Mr. William Cowen was constantly 
at the Sneep, meeting either at Greenhead or Allansford for 
the chain of coverts which extend from the place just named 


almost to Eddy's Bridge. My early recollections take me 
back to a meet of " Mr. Coweu's hounds " — they were not 
called Braes of Derwent until Colonel Cowen became Master — 
at Shotley Lodge, and to another meet about the same time 
at Allansford. I scrambled after the pack on a small pony 
when very young, but throughout my boyhood I saw far more 
of the Durham country from Woodlands than I ever did of 
Mr. Cowen's hounds, except in the season of 1867-8, when I 
had several good hunts with them. As for the fields, or, 
rather, the size of the fields, I do not remeanber much, biit I 
am of the opinion that during both the Cowen masterships 
there were many more followers at the eastern end of the hunt 
than there were in the west, and that the meets in the Blaydon 
country, which is within an easy ride of Newcastle-on-Tyne, 
were most largely attended. In Colonel Cowen's time I know 
this was SO; and it is perhaps a little curious, because now 
the reverse is the case, the big fields with the present pack 
being nearly always in evidence when they meet near Shotley 
Bridge or in the Tyne Valley. It is the case, however, that 
during the Cowen masterships hounds were as a general rule 
in the east on Saturday and in the west part of their country 
on Wednesday, and Saturday is quite the most popular 
hunting day in that part of the world, more especially among 
the business men, who form a great part of these northern 
fields. That the rule of hunting in the west in the middle of 
the week was always strictly adhered to was not, however, the 
case, and I remember certain good Saturdays in the Allansford 
district during the earlier part of Colonel Cowen's mastership, 
and notably it was on a Saturday that hounds ran to Broom- 
shields from the Sneep, unattended, as I have already 

There was always a good deal of festivity in connection with 
Colonel Cowen's hounds, and at some lawn meets, especially 
in the eastern end of the country, there would be a big whip 
up of members of other hunts. The Master's house, Blaydon 
Burn, v/as the most popular fixture, and at times the Tyne- 
dale. North Durham, and Mr. Lamb's Harriers would be as 
well represented as the Braes of Derwent was. Once I re- 
member Mr. Maynard and a large number of the North 
Durham field being present, but what the special occasion 


was I have forgotten, nor do I think that sport on that day 
was out of the ordinary. And here I must explain that I 
was never by any means a regular follower of the pack in 
Colonel Cowen's time, for when I was in the district I hunted 
in the Durham country as frequently as possible, the days of 
the last-named pack suiting me better, and also the fact that 
I was well within reach of all the best of the North Durham, 
and had been, so to speak, entered in that country. All the 
same, I saw a good deal of fun at odd times with the Braes 
of Derwent, especially during the middle period of Colonel 
Cowen's mastership, and it is my aim to' deal as much 
as possible with incidents at which I was present. I 
may perhaps be allowed to mention one or two days with 
Colonel Cowen which I shall never forget. One of these was 
a hunt I had all by myself, and which was, indeed, one of the 
best hunts I ever saw in the country. I was never a jealous 
man to hounds, and I have always regretted that I had no 
company in this particular hunt, but my having it all to 
myself was purely accidental. Hounds met at Priestfield 
(where there was a brea-kfast) and were put into the Pont Gill 
from the eastern side. As is usual at the Pont, they found 
quickly, and went up the Gill, the large field, which included 
several strangers, going up with them, but outside the Gill. 
Personally I always preferred to be on the Hamsterley side of 
this covert, and crossed the Gill. After a time hounds 
divided, and about twelve couples took a fox over to what is 
now called the Chimney Wood, adjoining Hamsterley Hall. 
I shouted for all I was worth, but the rest of the pack were 
running another fox in the main Pont Gill, and no one came. 
I then went in pursuit, caught hounds up at Long Close 
Gate, and crossed the river behind them at the Derwentcote 
ford. Going on fast, they skirted Milkwell Burn and went 
north of Ravenside, and over the ridge just east of Hedley- 
on-the-Hill. They next ran over a fine bit of country to 
Hindley, where they checked in the garden at Hindley Hall. 
They hit it off of their own accord, and went over the pastures 
of Bromley Farm to Fotherley, going on by the latest used 
point to point course to North Kellas plantation. Hounds 
were not 200 yards in front of me when they went over the 
boundary wall of the plantation, and my heart sank, for 


I thought I should either lose them in the big woodland or 
that they would change on to a fresh fox. They entered the 
cover just where a small stream crosses the Lead road, and 
there is a gate and a road into the wood 300 yards away. I 
was going for this gate when I heard the growling of hounds 
close to me, and, looking over the wall where the trees were 
very thick, I found that hounds had killed their fox. I left 
my horse in the lane and soon had the fox over the wall, and 
as hounds were trying to pull their victim from me, I put 
the dead fox over the horse's shoulder and quickly mounted 
again. Hounds, knowing their fox was there, came all round, 
and I rode down the lane to Scales Cross, then three miles 
further to Whittonstall, where I saw a gleam of scarlet, and 
met Master, huntsman, and a great number of the field, who 
were looking for hounds, but were a good deal wide of the 
line the fox had taken more than an hour before. The fox 
was broken up in a field adjoining the village of Whittonstall, 
and I had both brush and mask for many years. As far as my 
recollection goes, hounds never checked after crossing the 
Derwent until they reached Hindley, and when they had re- 
covered the line they went steadily on. The pace was never 
very great except just at first, but there was a good holding 
scent from start to finish. 

This run took place — I am almost certain — ^in January, 
1875, and here I may leave Colonel Cowen for a moment to 
describe another fine hunt in which Hindley figured, and 
which took place a year or two later, but came from the other 
end of the country. And the hounds which gave the run were 
a draft from the North Durham Kennel, which was for the 
time being located at Riddlehamhope. The place just named, 
it should be explained, is a somewhat famous shooting box 
on the moors, a good five miles west of Blanchland, rather 
" extra parochial " as far as the Braes of Derwent or the 
Hay don hunt are concerned. Indeed, I imagine that Colonel 
Cowen never drew the coverts near it, but the keepers were 
complaining of the damage done to grouse by foxes, and the 
then shooting tenant, the late Mr. " Dicky " Johnson, of 
Sherbum Hall, arranged with Mr. Maynard that Captain 
Apperley should bring up some of the old hounds from the 
North Durham Kennel, hunt, and if possible kill some of these 


foxes. This waa in the early autumn of what particular year 
I do not remember, but some time in the 'seventies, nor have 
I any recollection of how Captain Apperley fared. What I 
do know is that I had a letter from John Greenwell one day, 
telling me he was going to have a hunt with these hounds, and 
asking me to go with him. We sent two horses on to Blanch- 
land, drove there one afternoon, saw the keeper — I think 
there was no one at the shooting lodge that week — and arranged 
to be at Riddlehamhope at eight on the following morning. 

Meantime we stayed all night at the popular Crewe Arms 
at Blanchland, and if my recollection is correct we arranged 
that one or two of the local farmers should join us in the 
morning. This same morning was very hot, and we drew the 
Triangle, Ellers Hill, and other coverts without finding. 
Hounds were then put into the Gill at Gibraltar, to draw 
down below Newbiggin House, andi here they found and 
quickly reached Deborah Wood, where they divided — we had 
only six or seven couples — but after a. time four and & half 
couples took a line out at the south end of the wood near the 
spot where there was once a lead mine. Going on southwards 
for a while, they did not quite reach the top of the hill, but 
turned towards Ruflfside, and we followed them as best w© 
could over the moor, hitting ofiF the Shotley Bridge-Blanchland 
road about a mile west of Edmundbyers. There had been 
some ten or twelve horsemen — mostly hill farmers on ponies 
— with us when we started, but when we left Deborah Wood 
we had lost all our following except one farmer, and we had 
also lost about two couples of our very small pack. The nine 
hounds which went through this run were, however, very 
staunch, and though they frequently checked, and were cast 
by John Greenwell, who carried the horn, they kept worrying 
on the line throughout a long autumn day. Reaching the 
lower ground below Hunter House the fox travelled down the 
river (Derwent) side to Redwell Hall, and then turned up the 
hill to Manor House. Of course he was not being pressed, and 
could pick and choose his ground, and, curiously enough, he 
had undoubtedly a great liking for the open, and either did 
not know or cared little for the coverts. From Manor House 
we worked across to Shotley Field, and hounds ran through 
the top end of Walker Shank — near which place a flight of 

J 2 


rails which John Greenwell and I jumped, was still standing 
two or three years ago^ — and thence to Highfield and over the 
hill to Kipper Linn, where there was a long check, and we 
thought he must have got to ground in some rabbit holes. 
Hounds did not mark, however, but after a time hit off the 
line in the Gill below Lead Hill and hunted to Hindley, and 
into the big covert on Lord Allendale's property which lies 
between the Tyne and Broomley. If there was a change it took 
place here, for we got away on the Broomley side of the covert 
and went faster than we had gone all day to Fotherley Gill, 
where we slowed down again, but hounds recovered the line 
and carried it to Scales Cross and up the Minsteracres Dene 
to North Kellas, which we reached about dusk, and where we 
quickly lost hounds. John Greenwell had never been in 
Kellas in his life, and I knew very little about the covert, 
and, to cut a long story short, we were there for at least an 
hour after it was quite dark, and started to go back to Blanch- 
land with only one of the nine hounds. Two or three more 
caught us up on our homeward ride, and we sat down to 
dinner terribly exalted over such a hunt, but rather uncom- 
fortable about the lost hounds. After dinner we fell asleep 
on either side of the fire, but were soon roused upi by a rush 
of excited individuals who poured into the room, all talking 
at once. It appeared that a ' ' Dean and Chapter ' ' woodman 
from Blanchland had been at a funeral at Corbridge, and 
had been walking home during the afternoon. Being a local 
man, he knew all the short cuts, and had come through the 
western part of South Kellas — where there is a cart road — 
on his way home, and in the corner of the plantation he had 
come upon three couples of hounds with their dead fox. 
Having heard of the projected hunt overnight he knew what 
hounds they were, and cut off the mask and brush and put 
them in his pocket. He then began his five to six miles walk, 
but he had already been from Blanchland to Corbridge and 
back to Kellas, a distance of well over twenty miles, and 
therefore he was very slow on the road. The next thing that 
happened was that the hounds, with the two or three which 
had joined us, were fed and fastened up in a stable, and that 
I helped to brew a huge bowl of punch, a liquor for which 
the Crewe Arms was then greatly famed. 


This was the longest hunt I over saw in my life, and the 
marvellous part of it was that so small a number of hounds 
should have been able to stick to a line in such fashion. Scent 
of course was undeniable, but I may explain for the benefit 
of those who do not know the country that we never went 
near a village (there are practically none in the district), nor 
very near a farmhouse, and, indeed, it would be difl&cult to 
find a country anywhere so quiet and peaceable as this on a 
day when hounds are not expected, but run into it from some 
distant place. John Greenwell a day or two later wrote an 
account of the hunt, intending to send it to a local paper, 
but it never went, and I have treasured it until the writing 
has become so faint that it is almost undecipherable. Those 
who know the country will appreciate the fact that with a 
fox found at Gibraltar and hunted — after the first half -hour 
— by nine hounds only, we traversed nearly two-thirds of the 
Braes of Derwent country, went round, and worked back to 
within about half a dozen miles of the place we had originally 
come from. 

Colonel Cowen was a tremendous favourite with all sections 
of society, and a kindlier man never wore scarlet. He had 
great enthusiasm, too, but he was not altogether orthodox in 
his methods of hunting a country, and, notably, concerning 
the hour of starting. This lack of punctuality was, however, 
entirely due to the fact that his friends, wherever he met, 
insisted on providing entertainment for the inner man, and 
though the Colonel (who was an early riser) and his hounds 
would be at the appointed place of meeting well before the 
advertised time ol half-past ten, he did not like to disappoint 
them. Strangers and occasional visitors to the pack at all 
times received a most hearty welcome, but the arrival of one 
or two late comers often meant further delay, pending the 
refreshment of the delinquents. I well remember one lawn 
meet at Sherburn Towers, then the residemce of the late Mr. 
Gray, for the gallop which followed what the Scotch call 
the " sederunt " was about the fastest and best I ever saw 
in the Colonel's country. I remember that I was very late, 
and also that on the road to the meet I caught up two neigh- 
bours equally late. We had hoped that hounds might not 
have got away from the first draw, and our road to the covert 


took us past Sherburn Towers, where, rather to our surprise, 
we found that hounds had not moved off, and that a very 
large field was still being entertained. We were hailed and 
literally ordered to come in, and when someone ventured to 
suggest to the Colonel that the day wasi wearing on, he replied 
that we were certain to find in the whin, which was not a 
couple of hundred yards from the house. This whin was 
placed at the east end of Spen Bank Plantation, and has long 
beein ploughed out, but at the time I am writing of — the spring 
of 1884 — it was a nice covert. The move came at last, and 
as we entered the field it hardly looked promising to see do/ens 
of foot people all round the gorse. Hounds were being 
trotted across the field between the covert and the house when 
there came a halloa, and in a moment the pack were round 
the whin and into the wood. But this they left again in a 
moment, and fairly flew along the side of the hill to Nomian'p 
Riding and Snook Hill, when they went left-handed over the 
hill to the Brockwell Covert. This they did not enter, but 
skirted the boundary fence, and then ran up the valley of 
the Barlow Brook to Reely Mires. Thence they bent to the 
right and went by Sealbum, Bucks Nook, and the Duke's 
Hag, over a fine line of open country, to Hedley-on-the-Hill. 
Wheeling left-handed here, they ran over Airy Hill and by 
Ravenside to Milkwell Burn Wood, and going over the field 
adjoining the wood, hounds were running in view, coursing 
their fox, in fact, and though he found a rabbit hole in the 
boundary fence, he was quickly got out and killed. This 
was a fifty minutes' gallop over a fine, open country. There 
was no check, and the pace was first-rate throughout. But I 
have a sequel to tell, and first I may say the run was a good 
deal talked about for long enough, for everyone had a good 
start, and there was some rather tall riding, especially during 
the first twenty minutes. Well, many years after, since Mr. 
Priestman had the country, in fact, I was talking over certain 
old hunts with Mr. Gray, jun., and I mentioned this par- 
ticular run as being about the best thing I had ever seen in 
the country. " Yes," he replied, " I arranged that hunt 
well. The fact is, my father was very nervous that hounds 
might not find. There was no reason for his doubts, for, as 
you know, Spen Bank was always full of foxes, but I thought 


I would make sure, so I had a fox ready in the Ravenside lane, 
and all the hunt up to that point was a drag, well laid so as to 
bring in the best country." He went on to say that when 
hounds were coming from Airy Hill to Ravenside the fox was 
shaken out of a bag, and the man who had done the trick 
hid himself among the fir trees of a tiny plantation, and no 
one was any the wiser. " I think the Colonel was a little 
suspicious," he also told me, but nothing ever transpired and 
everyone was pleaseid. 

Personally, I never had the least suspicion, but I did not 
know the habits of Spen Bank foxes as I do now, and at the 
time I thought that certain big coverts were avoided because 
the fox was being pressed all the way. With the farmers 
Colonel Cowen was a great favourite, and he was always doing 
someone or other a good turn. I have seen his farm cart ten 
miles away from Blaydon Bum, laden with hurdles for a 
farmer who had had a hole or two bored in his hedges, and 
I have taken part in entertainments which he provided for 
men who helped him by walking puppies or looking after foxes. 
I do not mean the ordinary puppy show entertainment, but 
little special treats which were much appreciated. For 
example, if hounds were in the Riding Mill district he would 
occasionally order dinner for a dozen or so at Havelock's Hotel, 
and if it was in the spring of the year he would send a monster 
salmon, a turkey, and perhaps a round of beef for the dinner. 
He would then invite any farmers he particularly wished 
to entertain, and during the day's hunting would make up 
the party from among his hunting friends. There were other 
places, too, at which the same procedure was adopted, but I 
mention Riding Mill because I was present at two of these 
dinners which took place there, the Colonel being the host on 
one occasion, while at the last dinner of the sort I remember 
Colonel Cowen and Mr. Fred Lamb (Master of the Harriers) 
were joint hosts. And apropos the first of these dinners I got 
into temporary and very slight trouble with Colonel Cowen, 
for, as he said, hollering his hounds on to a fresh fox, but, as 
I said, halloaing hard because two- thirds of the pack had 
gone away with a fox. I may mention here that one of 
Colonel Cowen' s unorthodox proceedings was the infusion of 
a considerable amount of bloodhound blood into his foxhound 


kennel. Doggy men will know that the Master of the Braes 
of Derwent was a great breeder of bloodhounds and of several 
varieties of gun dog. He judged at many of the most im- 
portant dog shows, and was one of the greatest authorities 
of the day on all sorts of sporting dogs. Much of his hunting 
took place in big woodlands, and he had an idea that his fox- 
hounds wanted more nose and less pace for this particular 
sort of hunting. He therefore tried a bloodhound cross, 
which was not very successful. The cross-bred hounds cer- 
tainly hunted well in covert, but they dwelt on the line far 
too much in the open, and were lacking in drive. At the time 
I am writing of, more than thirty years ago, the experiment 
was engaging some attention, and several masters of hounds 
visited the pack to see how it worked. I do not remember 
that any of them approved, except perhaps Mr. Maynard, who 
was then an old man, and who possibly had the same ideas 
as the Colonel. I have an idea that Mr. Maynard had two 
or three of these cross-bred hounds in his kennel for a short 
time, but he very quickly altered his opinion, finding them 
too slow for the very open North Durham country. Well, 
one day the Blaydon Bum pack were hunting in the Guards 
Wood, and foxes went up and down the gill but would not 
break. I do not think the Colonel cared whether they broke 
or not that day, for scent was good in covert, and the music 
was magnificent. The field became scattered and hounds 
divided. With one or two others I was near the Duke's Hag 
when a fox and about twelve couples of hounds crossed the 
lane, and went on towards Hyons Wood. Then it was that 
I halloaed hard, but of course made no (attempt to stop 
hounds, because two-thirds of the pack were there, and I 
had no idea whether this fox had been hunted for an hour 
or only for a few minutes. Two or three of us followed on, 
hounds going through Hyons Wood, and very fast to Whitton- 
stall, where the fox got to ground in a drain at the Mains 
farm. The Colonel and his huntsman and others of the field 
arrived a quarter of an hour later, and I caught it hot for 
halloaing, but we soon made it up, for I explained that I 
was quite unaware he wanted to go on hunting in covert, 
and that I did not know the hunt servants had orders that 
day to stop hounds from running in the open. The dinner 


at Riding Mill a week later was the outcome of my injudicious 
behaviour, and Colonel Cowen made a facetious speech, in 
which he implied that jumping fences was more in my line 
than really hunting foxes. This, by the way, was far from 
the truth, for I always considered the hound work of much 
more importance than anything else in hunting, only the 
Colonel, with whose hounds I was an occasional visitor, did 
not at that time know it. But I remember at the Newcastle 
races of the following summer having a long talk with the 
Master, who was somewhat surprised to find that I knew all 
the hounds in the North Durham pack, and was a fairly 
frequent visitor to the kennels. " My experience is," he said, 
" that all the young men who hunt only want to gallop and 
jump, and care nothing for hound work," and doubtless this 
is true of many men in many countries. 

I am nevertheless inclined to think that in the smaller 
countries, where people hunt throughout the season in the 
same company and with the same hounds, a fair number of 
regular followers not only appreciate hound work, but 
know by sight and name all, or nearly all, the best 
hounds in the pack. And in the North Durham country five 
and thirty years ago I know this was the case even with the 
younger men. Captain Apperley, John Greenwell, and his 
cousin, Alan Greenwell (for many years' secretary of the 
hunt), Hutton Maynard (the Master's eldest son), and pos- 
sibly one or two others, knew the hounds as well as the hunts- 
man did, while at the present day Miss Rogerson 
not only knows every hound and its peculiarities, but 
in four cases out of five also knows the note of any 
single hound which speaks, provided, of course, that 
the chorus is not great enough to drown the individual note. 
Where fields are always large the hound lover must find it 
difiicult to become really acquainted with the pack he follows, 
but even then it can be done by degrees, if only the enthusiast 
has a quick eye and a good memory. " I know a lot of these 
hounds, and I know a lot of their names, but I never can 
remember which name belongs to any particular hound," 
I once heard a young man say, and a year or two later, when 
he had become a Master and I visited his kennels, I reminded 
him of it, and he confessed that he still found the same diffi- 


culty about the names at timesi, altliough when hunting he 
knew what every hound did. Even when I was looking over 
his pack he held forth as to the merits of one good-looking 
bitch, and then turned to the huntsman and asked whether 
she was " Lively " or " Likely." This, however, is a 
digression, and, to return to Colonel Cowen and his pack, I 
must not forget to say that his huntsman, Siddle Dixon, was 
quite an original, but in many ways a wonderful man. 

His father, often called Old Siddle Dixon, was huntsman 
to the Newcastle and Gateshead Harriers, and his son, John 
Dixon, is now stud groom to Mr. I. E. Cowen, son of Colonel 
Cowen, and secretary of the Braes of Derwent. Siddle Dixon, 
jun., was a bold and fearless rider, and had the very best 
huntsman's voice I ever heard. His style of talking to his 
hounds as they drew was marvellous, his voice being loud and 
yet extremely melodious, and his halloa was simply wonderful, 
while his voice " carried " in a fashion I have only 
once known before or since. But in ordinary con- 
versation his Tyneside dialect was so pronounced that 
the Southern would not have understood a word he 
said, and he was rather of the uncultured and 
rough order of huntsmen. Many of his whippers-in I have 
some slight recollection of, but ouly a man named Brown — 
frequently spoken of in the district as James Edward, with 
no mention of his surname — struck me as an original. James 
Edward was not of the hunt servant breed like Siddle Dixon, 
but he also was a bold and determined rider, with the 
character of being able to " go " on all soi*ts of refractory 
steeds. In addition, he was about the best handler of a fox 
I ever saw, and to the casual eye the most careless. I have 
seen him more than once thrust his hand into a drain when 
it appeared almost obvious that the fox must have been 
facing him, but I never saw or heard of his being bitten, and 
he was quite in his element and simply invaluable at a dig. 
He had, in fact, many of the qualities of a high-class hunt 
servant, but he was unsteady, and the Colonel was obliged to 
part with him, after which he took — as far as I can remember 
— to horse-breaking. Siddle Dixon continued to act as hunts- 
man until Colonel Cowen gave up in 1895, both being at the 
time well up in years; indeed, for some seasons the hunting 


had been greatly confined tx> the woodlands, and hounds were 
more in the east of the country than in the west. 
Just as there was " lamentation in the Vale of Sheepwash 
when Michael Hardy died," so there was lamentation in the 
Vale of Derwent when Colonel Cowen announced his inten- 
tion of retiring, and this was perhaps the more pronounced 
because at the moment there was no one to take his place; 
indeed, during the season 1895-6 the country was not hunted, 
except on two or three occasions, when Mr. Rogerson brought 
over the North Durham, but the distance was too great to 
permit of much country being drawn. In the following year 
Mr Lewis Priestman came forward, and is now in his 
twenty- sixth season as IMagter, and I am only voicing public 
opinion when I say that throughout this long period the 
country has enjoyed capital sport and pronounced prosperity. 
That the style of hunting has become greatly changed, and 
that the sport has been of a faster and more lively character 
than it was during the latter period of Colonel Cowen's 
mastership is a fact which admits of no dispute, but this 
I can explain as being due to two or three very natural 
causes. In the first place, as I have shown. Colonel Cowen 
kept the hounds until he was an old man ; he was, more- 
over, a biggish weight in the latter years of his mastership, 
and greatly preferred hunting in the long gills which inter- 
sect the country to running in the open. Then many of his 
hounds still had the bloodhound strain, and the field had 
become accustomed to woodland hunting, and, in point of 
fact, the hunting was latterly conducted on a plan which was 
a little slow for young blood. The new Master was, broadly 
speaking, forty years younger than his predecessior, was a 
hard man over a. country, and had been for seiveral seasons 
a regular follower of the North Durham, Tynedale, and 
Zetland packs. He had kept horses at Bishop Auckland, for the 
Zetland, as well as at home, and he had many hunting friends 
of his own age, anxious to hunt with him, and who were keen 
on the riding as well as on the hunting part of the business. 
I should explain, however, that Mr. Priestman had had most 
of his early hunting with Colonel Cowen's hounds, and had, 
in fact, been for several seasons one of the regular followers 
of the pack. He knew the country and its inhabitants, and 


was a personal friend of the older members of the hunt, as 
well as of the young hunting folk of both sexes among his 
own contemporaries whom he enlisted as new members. He 
had also from early boyhood been an enthusiast of hunting, 
determined to acquire knowledge of the sport in all its sur- 
roundings. He had studied the conditions which belong to 
present day hunting, and had for several years been remark- 
ably well mounted and well turned out. He had no hounds 
to begin with, as Colonel Cowen's pack had been disposed of 
during the previous spring, and he had no kennels beyond the 
old buildings of the defunct Shotley Bridge Beagles. He at 
once built new kennels on his own property at Tinkler Hill 
and procured drafts from other kennels with which to begin 
the season. I shall have something to say about these later, 
but at present I may put it on record that the new scratch 
pack did wonderfully well in their first season, and that this 
was almost entirely due to the fact that the best of the new 
hounds were possessed of any amount of drive. Naturally 
some were better than others, but the best — though getting on 
in years — took to their new country as a fish takes to water, 
and the upshot was that before the season was at an end foxes 
instead of hanging to the woodlands were being forced into 
the open, the result being that capital runs — many with long 
points — were being obtained over a fine, wild country, the 
going of which, outside the coverts, is, in spite of the hilly 
nature of the land, on the whole the very best I ever found in 
any country. 

One of the first things Mr. Priestman did after he assumed 
the mastership of the Braes of Derwent was to map out the 
country into quarters or districts, and arrange a plan by 
which every covert should be drawn, when possible, in regular 
order, so that there should be the same amount of hunting 
everywhere, and no complaints of one covert or district being 
favoured at the expense of another. Like every other country, 
the Braes of Derwent has its favoured localities, and, as a 
matter of course, certain fixtures are much more popular than 
others, but the plan of hunting each district in turn has 
worked very well, and I need hardly say that many of the very 
best hunts have come from the least popular coverts, while 
occasionally the best coverts in the best country have had 


their unlucky times. Some slight description of the country 
may be given, as was done when the North Durham country 
was described, and, first, it may be explained that many of 
the coverts are what are generally called " gills," which means 
that they are wooded ravines with a, brook running through 
them. The banks of some of these ravines are a trifle steep, 
but ©veiry crossing isi well known, aud there are plenty of 
them. The other coverts are fir plantations, often with an 
undergrowth of heather, and open gorses such as are to be 
found in the adjoining Tynedale and North Durham coun- 
tries. Foxes are impartial in their attention to coverts, and 
one year a certain covert or group of coverts close together 
will invariably hold two or three, while in the following season 
these places may be drawn blank three or four times. But 
there are so many coverts in. each of the four quarters of the 
country that a long jog from covert to covert, except after an 
incursion into a neighbouring country, is almost unknown, and 
as foxes are, on the whole, very plentiful, there is seldom 
much waiting for the necessary article. During the mange 
epidemic as many as five blank days occurred in a 
season, but matters have entirely changed in this direction, 
and I imagine it is several seasons since hoiunds went 
home without having hunted at least one fox. For my 
own part, I have not been out en a blank day in the North of 
England for at least fifteen years, and during that period I 
cannot remember the Braes of Derwent ever being longer than 
two hours in finding, while, as a rule, there is a fox in the 
first covert drawn, and a great number of hunts have been 
begun before eleven o'clock. It has already been explained 
that the country is long and narrow, with the Tyne Valley 
for its northern boundary, and the river Derwent running 
through its southern side. Also, I have mentioned the ridge 
of hill in the centre between the two rivers, and have stated 
that from either river to the crown of the hill is a long, fairly 
regular slope, which is in most places so gradual that when 
hounds are running towards the top it is all good galloping 
ground. The gills all run upwar^ds from one or other of the 
rivers, most of them being on the Derwent side of the country, 
and few of them being over a mile in length, with the excep- 
tion of the Pont Gill, which is wooded for three miles and is 


good covert the whole length of its course. The gradual rise 
from the rivers to the backbone of the hill is about five miles 
in the centre of the country, less towards its eastern end, and 
more to the west, and the rise varies from 400ft. to 700ft., 
which means that the hill immediately west of Axwell Park 
is some 400ft. above the two rivers, while Barley Hill, south- 
west of Minsteracres, is 700ft. above the Derwent, where it 
flows through Shotley Bridge. 

The Derwent is a swift running river with a rapid descent 
of water, and though Shotley Bridge is only ten miles by road 
from Swalwell, where the Derwent flows into the tidal Tyne, 
the bed of the river under Shotley Bridge is 300ft. above sea 
level. The Tyne, on the other hand, is, at Stocksfield, prob- 
ably not more than 50ft. above sea level, and this means that 
there is a much greater rise from the Tyne to the summit 
of the ridge than from the Derwent to the same place. Indeed, 
before motors came, when one drove from Shotley to Riding 
Mill, it was trotting ground everywhere, except the first half 
mile, whereas, coming the other way, say, from Riding Mill 
to Kiln Pit Hill, it was a steady climb, about two-thirds of 
which was walking ground. And while the country between 
the Derwent and the top of the hill is, for the most part, 
a very gradual slope, the land on the north side of the hill 
hasi three sharp rises and a small plain of nearly a. mile on 
the top of each rise. The land, in fact, rises in tiers, and 
there are two parallel high roads going north and south, and 
not very far apart, while there are many cross lanes. To give 
some idea of the country I may briefly describe the road from 
the Derwent at Allansford to the Tyne at Riding Mill, a 
distance of about ten miles. Allansford is a tiny hamlet 
consisting of a country house and a couple of cottages on one 
side and a mill and two cottages on the other side of the 
river. From a picturesque point of view the place is beautiful, 
for the river curves through steep and densely-wooded banks, 
and the old stone bridge, which rises 8ft. from the ends to the 
centre, and which some distance away looks more like an orna- 
mental arch than a bridge, is a wonderful piece of masonry, 
showing beautiful design. How old it is I do not know, 
but the road was at one time a direct coach route from Leeds 
to Edinburgh, and was originally a deviation from the Watling 


Street, which it joins seven miles north and twenty miles 

to the south. Hard by axe two farms with histories, Hole 

House and Wharnley Burn, once the property of the Maddison 

family, which came to an end in the persons of two bachelor 

brotiieirs, o^ne ol whom was Postmast^ir-General more than one 

hundred and twenty years ago, and the other Under-Secretary 

for Foreign Affairs in 1782, and Secreta.ry of Legation when 

the Peace of Paris was signed a year later. All that remains 

of Hole House is one corner of the original building, which 

is now used as a farmhouse, but even in this there is a secret 

room, and the walls are of immense age. The Maddison 

property went to the Greenwells of Broomshields through a 

sister of the celebrities just mentioned, and many years ago 

a lot of their old Court costumes were taken out of an old 

press to use in private theatricals, but the clothes of both 

brothers were so small that no one except a boy of fourteen 

could wear them, and John Greenwell — whose middle name 

was Maddison — decided that neither of the brothers could 

have had an ounce of sport' in him, or he never would have 

left such a beautiful spot as Hole House to enter into the 

political world. Wharnley Burn is famous for the fact that 

one of the last of the Mosstroopers lived, and died there in 

1714, but was denied " Christian sepulture," and is buried 

beneath a tree on the bank above the river. Anotlier 

Maddison, always called Mad Maddison, who lived some three 

hundred years ago, was, in his descendant's opinion, a real 

sports-man, for, having broken all the laws of his country, he 

was declared outlaw by the Bishop of Durham, who sent a 

troop of horse to Shotley Bridge, v^rith orders to bring 

Maddison back with them. This they succeeded in doing, 

but their arrival was unexpected, and Maddison, who lived at 

Shotley Hall, had to bolt from a side entrance to the house. 

He succeeded in getting a horse from one of his tenants, ana 

gave the troop a rare run, but his horse, probably out ot 

condition, stood still at Muggleswick Parli, some seven or eight 

miles away. Even when dismounted Maddison beat his 

pursuers for a time on foot, but they caught him at the Sneep, 

and hailed him to Durham, where he paid the penalty for his 

crimes. The present Shotley " Old " Hall is built on the site 

of Mad Maddison' s house, which is about three miles lower 

down the stream than Allansford. 


Readers will, perhaps, pardon me for having whipped off 
on to local history; but, by way of excuse, I may say that 
though I know something of the historical conditions of the 
district in which I was born and brought up, I care most for 
it on account of the sport of all sorts I have seen in it. In 
the Allansford district every field and almost every inch of 
woodland reminds me of some incident in hunting, and I may 
now go on to say that the high road between Allansford and 
Riding Mill passes through no village, no town, and no popu- 
lation. It is a land of wide pastures of " white " land and 
fir plantations, and just as good scenting ground as I ever saw. 
The road winds up the hill from Allansford, and in the firsit^ 
mile or two there are a few fields — always the smallest fields — 
of arable land; but when the higher ground is reached these 
disappear, and it is grass, and nothing but grass, all the way 
to the Tyne Valley. I am making rather a point of this 
because a correspondent writes me saying that, although he 
does not know the country, he has always understood that the 
plough land was more extensive than the grass, and he refers 
me to The Hunting Countries of England, in which the follow- 
ing is, in the description of the Braes of Derwent : ' ' Most of 
the land is under the plough — though grass fields come in here 
and there, more often in the form of temporary seeds." I 
have looked up the reference, and find it correct. And I turn 
to Baily's Hunting Directory, where the description of the 
oo'Untry is as follows : "A bank and stone wall country ; 
about 60 per cent, pasture, 15 per cent, plough, and the 
remainder about equal proportions of woodland and moor." 
Who gave the description for Bcdly I have no idea, but it 
is absolutely true, and I feel quite certain that " Brooksby," 
who wrote the Hunting Co-imtries of England, cannot have 
seen the western and bigger side of the Braes of Derwent 
country, but has probably judged the hunt from what he 
saw from Blaydon Burn, the residence of the late Colonel 
Cowen. The volumes describing the various countries were 
written more than thirty-five years ago, and it is possible that 
some land has been laid down to grass since then, but I 
may add that by far the greater part of the arable land in the 
hunt is at the extreme east of the country, about Blaydon 
Burn, Barlow Fell, and Greenside. There are odd fields of 


arable in the lower part of the Derwent Valley, but, as in 
the Tynedale country, the moment the higher land is reached 
the arable gives way entirely to grass. 

The tiny hamlets of Carterway Head and Kilnpit Hill, 
with an odd cottage here and there, are the only houses on the 
high road from Allansford to the Tyne, and west of them 
there are no villages in the hunting district, except Edmund- 
byers and Blanchland, the first named actually on the moors, 
and Blanchland near the head of the Derwent, and so remote 
that hounds are never there except to draw the coverts in the 
immediate neighbourhood. Why foxes never run from inland 
coverts to the big woods romid about and beyond Blanchland 
I do not know, but they never do, whereas Blanchland foxes 
five times out of six come down the valley. In all this western 
end of the hunt there are no railways — Blanchland is eleven 
miles from the nearest railway — no collieries, and no popula- 
tion, and no houses except scattered farms and cottages, and, 
as has been explained, foxes seldom hang to the woodlands, 
but are quickly driven to the open, and make long points. 

There are two divisions in the western part of the hunt, one 
extending from Eboheater, on the Derwenti, right up to and 
beyond Blanchland, and the other to the north from the 
summit of the hill down to the Tyne. In the home division, 
where the kennels are situated, there is a chain of coverts 
closie at hand, but north of the Derwent, and some two or three 
little places on the south side, which may be drawn from a 
kennels' meet. There are, as a matter of fact, lots of foxes 
quite close to the kennels, but it is difficult to stop them out, 
as there are many old pitfalls on the hillside behind, where 
coal was worked from collieries behind the hill many years ago. 
When Mr. Priestman first took hold he used to find in the gill 
which joins the puppy yard, but there is now a building estat® 
(as I have mentioned) close at hand, and the foxes are not 
there in the daytime, though strongly in evidence as far as 
poultry claims are conceimed. The upshot is that hounds are 
usually taken from a kennel meet to the Spring Wood, on the 
Shotley Hall estate, and this is a fairly sure find, and only 
half a mile from Mere Bum one of the great strongholds of 
the hunt. Two brooks — and consequently two gills — come 
through this Mere Burn, and in parts of it there is capital 


lying, but it is a difficult place to get away from, for the 
land is undulating; the fir trees are in places 70ft. to 80ft. 
high, and some of the rides are terribly deep ; while the covert 
has two or three spurs which hounds may go through unseen. 
Yet at times very fine runs come from the Mere Bum, and 
within the last few years I have seen one Mere Bum fox go to' 
ground in a field drain, two miles beyond the Haydon 
boundary (near Slaley), and another killed at the east end of 
the Guards Wood, ou the Prudhoe Hall estate, which is at the 
extreme north-east of the country. During the war much of 
the Mere Burn was cut down Still, hounds were some years 
ago probably more O'ften lost, by some O'f the field in the Mere 
Burn than elsewhere, for the crossings are difficult and deep, 
and the rides nearly all go east and west. If hounds went up 
or down the bigger gill they were good to follow, but if they 
went from the main gill to the spur called Clark's Pastures 
it was quite anotheir matter, for they can travel twice as 
as horsemen over twoi difficult oroissings, and were oft.en clean 
out of sight and hearing when one reached the end of the 
covert. Many of the fieild used to remain in the lane 
near Newlands Grange, for foxes usiually break on that 
side, but in spite of the drawbacks I have pointed out 
the place is very popular, and alwa.3r9 well foxed, while), 
as a. general rule, its foxes are strong runners, with a 
big knowledge of country. Indeeid, foxes come to Mere Burn 
from all parts of the centre and west of the country, and no 
matter how often the place is drawn or run through it never 
fails when a fresh fox is wanted. West of Mere Bum is the 
Golf Wood and Hammer Mill Dene, while just west of Shotley 
Hall are Brown's Bog, Field Head Wood, Snods Edge Wood, 
and the Horse Shoe. These are much smaller coverts than 
Mere Burn, and probably Brown's Bog is the best, but foxes 
from all of them either go east to Mere Bum or west to the 
Sneep, and seldom break up the hill to the north. Another 
good covert in this locality was Fyne House, high up the 
hill, and well placed for a run, and north of it, nearly two 
miles away, is Newhouse, a fifty-acre plantation with a heather 
bottom, which during the early part of Mr. Priestman's 
mastership provided more foxes and more hunts than any other 
covert in the country. Both have now disappeared, but hounds 


find in the ma&a of brushwood which remains. With the 
exception of Newhouse, the coverts I have mentioned are all 
on the Shotley Hall esitate, the owner of which, Mr. Hugh 
Walton-Wilson, has died since this paper was written. 
The Masiter, however, rents a good deal of the shooting, 
entirely in the intierests of the foxes, for he has no 
time to shooti. Two miles west of Shotley and south 
of the River Derwent is the Hole House Gill and a small covert 
at Bridge Hill, which are occasionally drawn, but they are not 
sure finds, and in the long run it pays better for hounds to 
meet at Allansford, and draw up the river. This draw is a 
most complicated bit of country, which includes Mosswood 
Banks, the Sneep, and the Badger Wood on the north side, 
and Derwent Grange Wood, Ca&tlesade Wood, and the 
Hiseho'pe and Horsley Hope Gills on the south side 
of the Derwent. Both sides of the river are well 
foxed, and probably the half-dozen coverts I have 
mentioned afford more sport than any other group in the 
hunt, for there is a fine open country on either side, and 
foxes of late years have hung very little to the river, but have 
gone boldly away. Foxes found at Mosswood will frequently 
keep to the river until they reach the Sneep, and at times they 
will cross and re-oross, going up one side and down the other, 
and vice versa, but quite an extraordinary number break at 
the Badger Wood (a small plantation which tenninates the 
chain of coverts), and boldly face the long asoent to the 
higher ground about Black Hedley. Indeed, the Badger Wood 
has been the real starting point for scores of good hunts, and 
it is also remarkable for the fact that on one windy day 
hounds travelled up the long lino of grass for a considerable 
distance with three foxes and four hares in front of them, and 
in full view of the field. Hares and foxes seemed to be making 
for one point, and it was only when the lane at Durham Field 
— a mile from the covert^ — was reached that hounds, who had 
stuck religiously to the particular fox they had hunted out of 
covert., were free from what looked to be most ridiculous 

When hounds draw up the Derwent side from Allansford 
the meadows above the river banks form a fine coign of 
vantage for the field, who go forward, but behind the pack, 

Q 2 


and frequently view a fax into the open country when that 
fox is half a mile or so in front of the pack. If a fox breaks 
right-handed, as many do, he has the best country in the 
hunt before him; but if hounds are some distance behind. 
Master Reynard is very apt to work in a half circle until he 
reaches the river banks again, and when this happens it is 
geoierally difficult to force this particular fox into the open a. 
second time. As the Sneep is approached the banks of the river 
become very steep, and in some places are dangerous for 
hounds, and near Crooked Oak farm there is a certain slab 
of rock, half-way down a wooded precipice, where foxes often 
lie, and where at times they will remain while hounds are 
drawing, knowing that they cannot be reached. Their tactics, 
however, were discovered many years ago, and now a whipper- 
in goes forward at the right moment, and if there is a. fox on 
the rock who will not move throws a stone or clod of earth at 
him. One of the very best hunts I ever saw had its origin with 
a fox that was said to have come off this ledge of rock. 
Hounds had been hunting for an hour or two, and foxes were 
sticking to the river banks with persistency, when there came 
a halloa near Crooked Oak farmhouse, and Mr. Priestman, 
who was then hunting hounds, took them to it and they hit 
it. off in the lane just east of the farm. Then for three-quarters 
of an hour they ran hard over the best country in the hunt, 
going eeist^ — if memory serves — as far as Highfield farm on the 
Whittonstall estate. But all the time they were making a 
half circle, and fifty minutes after the halloa hounds were back 
at the river and reduced to slow hunting. This was a grand 
gallop, done at a ripping pace, but when hounds reached the 
western end of the chain of Sneep coverts everyone was there, 
for hounds had described a wide half hoop, and the field had 
been on the inside all the way. Hounds never lost the line, 
but after having travelled some eight or nine miles of open 
country in forty-five minutes, they took twenty minutes 
between the Badger Wood and Silver Tongue, a distance of 
about a mile, but strong covert all the way. Near Silver 
Tongue they left the Derwent on the south side, and on the 
Durham side of the stream hunted steadily up Horsley Hope 
Gill, and reached the open again close to the railway, which 
divides the country from that of the North Durham. Here- 


abouts the country is very wild, being a bleak moorland, about 
1,200ft. above sea level, but hounds hunted on nearly to Bum 
Hill station. They bent left-handed — which means inland — 
short of the station, and crossed the Whitehall allotments, 
parts of which were almost waterlogged but luckily the pace 
was not great at this part of the hunt. An hour after leaving 
the Sneep they arrived at the North Plantation — one of the 
coverts known as Lord Bute's — and by this time the awkward 
going and the depth of the moor had shaken off thre©- fourths 
of the field. Still, there were nearly thirty riders when hounds 
entered Lord Bute's, but many were from the far side of the 
country, and a long way from home, the upshot being that 
when hounds worked through to the high road there was a 
general departure. The Master, two whippers-in, and three 
others were then left with hounds, who had a line out of the 
covert on to Eliza farm. It did not look hopeful, but hounds 
disappeared behind an avenue of beech trees, and the half- 
dozen trotted round to see if they could carry it on beyond. 
When we had gone past the beeches and looked for hounds 
nothing was to be seen ; but a moment later we discovered 
them a quarter of a mile ahead, going just as fast as they could 
travel. Luckily, the fox, who had been heading towards 
Woodlands, had turned on Sheepwalks farm and gone over 
to Rippon Burn, and we caught hounds as they crossed the 
lane, a good mile beyond Eliza farm. And as they ran 
through Rippon Burn one or two of us viewed the fox in the 
open field leaving the neighbourhood of the covert. Hounds 
were close behind, and ran through a comer of the Sawmill 
Wood, across the park at Woodlands, and down to the brook 
near Sunnyside. They did not cross at first, but hunted 
fast down the brook to Harbuck, then went by Stockerley and 
Esp Green to Greencroft, running right through the park and 
on to the Tower Wood ; but by this time it was quite dark, 
and we never knew for certain whether they killed their fox. 
Indeed, after vigorous horn-blowing had brought two-thirds 
of the pack to the Tower, it was far too dark to count them, 
but there were not many missing when the kennels were 
reached. This was an extraordinary hunt, and the last part 
of it much the best, for hounds were racing all the time, and 
from the North Plantation to the Tower Wood they had 


made a seven-mile point over as good a grass line a.s there is 
in the N'orth Durham country. 

The whole hunt lasted over three hours, and there were 
even longer points in it than I have just mentioned, viz., 
from where hounds turned in the early part of the hunt, when 
not far from Highfield farm, to Bum Hill, and from Burn 
Hill to the finish. Of course, the middle part was slow, but 
good hound work, and the day was one of those on which 
scent was first rate on the grass, moderate on the heather, 
and very poor in covert. In the first and latter parts there 
was practically no covert work, and though hounds ran through 
the Woodlands district they really avoided all the coverts. 
Even at Rippon Burn the fox went just outside the coverts 
alongside the brook, and after that he never touched a real 
covert until he reached the Tower Wood. In many respects 
this was the best hunt I ever saw with Mr. Priestman's 
hounds, but it came rather late in the day, for it was begin- 
ning to get dark when we passed through Woodlands, and was 
really too dark for riding across conntry after that. It would, 
however, have been impossible to stop hounds after they had 
once begun to run hard on Eliza farm, and when the fox was 
viewed in front near Rippon Bum the riders were wide of 
hounds on the higher ground above them. This is only one 
of many good runs which have come from the Sneep coverts 
in recent years, and as a matter of fact many others have been 
described in the columns of the Field. The Sneep is famous 
for its romantic scenery, and the bend of the stream called the 
Horse Shoe is remarkably beautiful, and a great place for 
picnics in the summer. Above it, on the Durham side of the 
stream, are the most formidable head of earths in the hunt. 
These are on the wooded hillside, below Muggleswick Church, 
and are a labyrinth of rocks, with various entrances, and of 
such a size that they cannot be properly stopped. One and 
often two litters of cubs are bred there every spring, and 
instead of stopping in the usual way being resorted to, fires 
are lighted at either end of the earths during the night before 
hunting, and a watchman installed, who feeds the fires and 
keeps them going until the following afternoon. The curious 
thing about the an*angement is; that though foxes will try 
the earths constantly during a hunting day, and in nineteen 


cases out of twenty turn away from the fires, they go back 
to these earths as soon as the fires are out and the watchman 
has departed, and use them again, both to lie in and for 
breeding, as if there were never any fires to scare them away. 
Strangers to the country who have been told of the facts will 
sometimes hardly credit them ; but they are quite true, never- 
theless, and thei system haa been in vogue for many years 
and always successful. 

Going up the river from Allansford the coverts on the north 
side of the stream include a wooded flat and gradually sloping 
banks which lie to the south, and which, one would think, 
would be the spot most particularly favoured by foxes. But 
the longer I live the more I find the orthodox theories about 
foxes to be frequently wrong, and though these Mosswood 
Banks are an ideal covert to look at — having a strong under- 
growth, a southern aspect, and being nearly a mile from a 
road, and always dry — foxes are generally found on the flat 
below, where the land is frequently wetter, or on the preci- 
pitous cliffs of the Sneep beyond. On the flat are some 
small grass enclosures, and across one of these runs an old 
stone drain, which foxes use, and where one has occasionally 
got to ground. From this drain I have seen a fox bolted by 
a squib, and while operations were in progress an old man 
who had brought a spade, and whom I knew as a rabbit- 
catcher, told me that he had over a period of years taken 
more than thirty foxes from that drain. This man had lived 
at Mosswood Cottages, barely a mile away, and had worked 
on the estate for many years, and during all the time he had 
procured foxes for a local bird stuffer, who " set them up " 
in a big case, the fox generally with a stuffed rabbit in its 
mouth, and sent them to the colliery villages to be raffled 
for at one shilling a ticket. The Durham miner is, as a rule, 
a fine friend to foxhunting, being both keen and enthusiastic, 
and every spring many litters are bred almost within a stone's 
throw of the colliery villages, and seldom disturbed. Indeed, 
if the vixen moves her cubs, it is because she has been 
bothered by boys or prowling dogs, and never because 
the miners object to her presence. Sometimes 

there is a litter of cubs close by, whose whereabouts 
are known to all the inhabitants of a colliery village, and the 


children are warned by tlie miners not to go too near, and, 
in fact, the cubs are as zealously guarded as they would be 
elsewhere. A place I have in mind is the Almshouses Whin, 
near Cornsay, in the North Durham country. This covert 
is a 6-acre gorse, quite in the open, and separated by a stream 
and fence from a small colliery village. But cubs are bred 
there, or are brought there every spring, and though they 
are always within sound of the village and its yelping curs, 
they are never disturbed, and hounds find there not only 
in the cubhunting period but all through the later season. 
When a man, however, comes along with a stuffed fox set 
up in a case, and a tale of how it was " made in Germany," 
or possibly was caught on the distant moors, the miner is often 
most anxious to possess such an ornament, and the shillings 
are freely produced. That foxes are at times killed illegiti- 
mately in the countries I am writing about, and in every other 
country in the kingdom, is in all probability true; but miners 
are never the delinquents in the north, nor, as far as I know, 
in any of the hunting countries which have a mining popula- 
tion within their borders. 

The day on which the fox was bolted by a squib was a 
memorable one so far as I am concerned, for hounds were 
actually running foxes for just on seven hours. It was in the 
second year of Mr. Priestman's mastership, and I do not 
remember where the meet was, nor a great deal about the 
morning, beyond the fact that from eleven o'clock until two 
we were continuously hunting in the Mere Burn and other 
Shotley plantations. Then a fox got away and ran to the 
Sneep, and I think we got among fresh foxes. Anyhow, we 
had a good deal of woodland hunting, and finished by run- 
ning to ground and bolting the fox in the manner I have just 
described. Although it was at the very end of the season, 
and not dark until nearly seven o'clock, the field, with one or 
two exceptions, departed after the bolted fox had been broken 
up; but Mr. Priestman was terribly keen, and went to draw 
Horsley Hope Gill — the only covert in the neighbourhood 
which had not been disturbed that day. The Master and his 
hounds disappeared into the gill, one whipper-in went for- 
ward, and Mr. Charles Balleny, now in British Columbia, and 
I, the only ones left, rode up the fields above the covert, and 


viewed a fox which broke behind the whipper-in. Hounds 
were quickly on the line; indeed, I think they had the line 
in covert, and a quarter of an hour later we were over the 
North Durham boundary, hounds running hard. I am not 
going to describe the hunt which followed, which, indeed, 
would be most difficult, for, though there was a fine scent 
•and an eager pack, the fox twisted about, taking us all over 
the country round Lord Bute's, and finally recrossing the rail- 
way line, which is the border between the two hunts, and 
going to ground in an open field near Castleside. It was now 
after seven o'clock, but we were unable to start for home 
<it once, for certain hounds had disappeared into the drain 
behind the fox, and we had to get them out before we could 
leave. To cut a long story short, the hour of nine was strik- 
ing by Benfieldside Church clock as we turned into the kenned 
lane, and just then the Master remembered that we were both 
engaged to a rather important dinner some distance away, 
and that the dinner was being given as a compliment to some 
of the foxhunters of the district. 

On the southern bank of the Derwent west of Allansford, 
and half a mile beyond the bridge, lies Derwent Grange Wood, 
which is unlike any other covert in the district, being largely 
composed of beech and oak, and much more like a south 
country wood than most of those in the Derwent Valley. It 
contains a head of earths, and often holds a fox; but finds 
are not so certain on the south side of the river as they are 
on the north, until Horsley Hope Gill is reached. This joins 
the Hisehope beck at Combe Bridges, and the joint streams 
reach the Derwent at Combefield House farm. Here again 
we have beautiful scenery and a very foxy neighbourhood; 
but foxes from either gill have a habit of going straight to 
the Mugglei&wick earthg and it is beoausei all the hunting with 
foxes found between Allansford and the Sneep, from both 
sides of the river, begins very often with a visit — on the part 
of the fox — to the Muggleswick earths that many ridera prefer 
to stay on the north side of the Derwent, where about five 
times out of six they are in the right place. At times foxes 
go south towards the moors, but when this happens they 
quickly turn in again. They also go to the North Durham 
country from Horsley Hope, but their most frequent plan is 


to try tlie Muggleswick earths, turn away from the fires, cross 
the river to the Badger Wood, and break into the open towards 
Durham Field. The crossings at the Sneep are not good for 
the field, except the most western one near the Horse Shoe. 
This is deep at times, but has a gravel bottom, and is kept 
free from big stones. A mile below at Lead Mill there is a 
terribly awkward crossing, the river being deep, with many 
holes, and great boulders of rock in the middle of the stream, 
which are being constantly moved by the flow of water when 
the stream is in flood. This crossing is oftenest the place 
which must be used if one is to keep with hounds, for it is 
on the direct line between the Sneep and the Horsley Hope 
Covert, and on every Sneep day foxes travel past it or cross 
the river near it when hunted. The Master has a fine oil 
painting of the pack and hunt staff crossing the Derwent at 
the Horseshoe Point, by Cuthbert Bradley; but when this 
crossing is used a. climb of several hundred feeti toi the top at 
Muggleswick must follow, and as a matter of fact there are 
hereabouts a couple of miles of riverside country much more 
likei the' combesi of thei Devon and Somerset country than any- 
thing to be found elsewhere in these northern hunts. At 
Crooked Oak farm, on the north side of the river, above the 
Horseshoe Point, there is a fine coign of vantage which com- 
mands all the wooded cliffs, and which in a huge majority of 
cases is the f-tarting point for hunts which coime from the Sneep. 
But on a cold day in midwinter it is a cheerless spot, which 
produces' laid-back coats and tucked-in tails. Hereabouts 
second horses are walked up and down the lane, and foot fox- 
hunters collect just as they do when tuft hunters are at work 
in a Devonshire' combe. jNIotors and pony oars also' affect, the 
spot, and once I had a first-rate hunt on wheels from Crooked 
Oak. It was in 1883, and for the time being I had nothing 
to ride; but I owned an old thoroughbred who was just 
recovering from a sore back. He was not quite ready for the 
saddle, and was an awkward horse to drive, being a jibber, 
and an occasional bolter; but he did well that day, for his 
blood was up, and all the trouble I had was to hold him. 
Hounds had met at Castleside, and the field were at Combe- 
field House when a fox broke on Crooked Oak farm. No rider 
was within a mile, and all had to cross at Lead Mill, by which 


time hounds were at Fyne House. At all events, I never saw 
anyone for an hour, when hounds, after covering a great deal 
of country, had run to ground midway between the present 
Master's house and the village of Ebchester, having made a 
point of five or &iix miles. Curiously, hounds wont round the 
Mere Burn that day without going into it, for from the 
Bolisher Covert they ran parallel with the lane all the way to 
Newlands, only touching covert when they went through the 
corner of Clark's pastures. My old horse ran away with the 
dogcart down this long and gradual descent, but pulled up at 
Guce as hounds oroseed the road in front of him at Stand 

I could 'give many more accounts of good runs from the 
chain of Sneep coverts, and may mention that at one time it 
was not an easy matter to force foxes away from the neigh- 
bourhood of the river. I can think of days when one crossed 
the stream half a dozen times in the forenoon, and when foxes 
either went up the banks, or down the banks, but resolutely 
declined to face the open. But this state of affairs was, I am 
almost certain, chiefly due to the mange visitation, and was 
caused by the foxes being weak and feeble. Possibly, too, 
the hounds ha,ve more drive than they had nearly twenty 
years ago, but of this I am doubtful, for even the foundation 
hounds of the present pack were possessed of great drive, and 
were not in the least inclined to hang on the scent. On the 
other hand, I am quite certain that the foxes all over the 
country have improved in strength and stamina in an unusual 
degree since the mange was got under, and now good runs 
come just as frequently from the Sneep as they do from any 
small covert in the open country. West and North of the 
Sneep, between the Badger Wood and the village of Edmund- 
byers, and the covert' at Hunter House, there is a pretty grass 
valley of four or five miles in length, in which there are two 
small plantations, Eddys Bridge Wood and Edmundbyers 
Bum Wood. Both occasionally hold a fox, but they are not 
frequently drawn, being somewhat remote. The Edmundbyers 
Burn covert is at right angles to the Derwent, half a mile 
from the river, and the North Durham ran through it. in the 
course of their memorable hunt from the Oak Gill near Wood- 
lands, to Bog Hall in the Haydon country. At Edmundbyers 


one is very near the moors, and the same remark applies 
to all the south side of the Derwent Valley, between Eddys 
Bridge and Blanchland. But there is a nice covert at Hunter 
House, and an even better one at Roughside, from which at 
times there has been plenty of sport. Two miles further west 
is Deborah Wood, which has been mentioned in connection 
with a memorable hunt, and further west still are Ellers Hill 
and Cocklake Strips. All these coverts west of Roughside, 
belong to the Blanchland group, and those which lie beyond 
the village of Blanchland, viz., Deborah Wood, Ellers Hill, 
Cocklake Strips, and a good covert on the north of the river, 
called the Triangle, are hunted alternately by the Braes of 
Derwent and the Haydon Hounds. The landlords hereabouts 
are Mr. Edward Joicey, of Newbiggin House, and the Eccle- 
siastical Commissioners, and Mr. Joicey is a former master of 
the Haydon, who lives elsewhere in the winter, and usually 
hunts with the Tynedale hounds. At one time there were 
many hunts from Ellers Hill, and a fair number from the 
Triangle, but this part of the hunt is very remote — the 
Triangle being quite fifteen miles from the kennels — and 
involves a big journey for most of the field. The country is 
at a high altitude, and often hunting is impossible owing to 
frost and snow, when it is quite practicable eight or ten 
miles farther down the valley. The upshot is that the Blanch- 
land district is an early autumn and late spring country, and 
is little used during mid-winter for the reasons given. I may 
also add that it holds fewer foxes than the lower country, 
and in this respect is not to be compared with the Sneep, 
where the supply is always plentiful. At the Sneep the foxes' 
are very carefully preserved by Mr. Utrick Ritson, of Muggles- 
wick Park, a veteran who no longer follows hounds on horse- 
back, but whose enthusiasm is still vigorous and of great value. 
Mr. Ritson is the father of five sons, who have all survived the 
war, these including Major J. R. Ritson, who was wounded 
and made a prisoner; Capt. Gerald Ritson, who captained the 
polo team which played in America nine years a,go; Colonel 
W. Ritson, Colonel Ward Ritson, and Lieut. Alec 
Ritson. The family have all the shooting of the Sneep 
coverts, and all hunt regularly with the Braes of Derwent 
and North Durham whenever opportunity offers. 


How the Haydon ever found their way into the extreme 
west of the Derwent Valley is explained by the fact that Mr. 
Joicey, when master of the pack, brought his hounds to New- 
biggin House to hunt his own coverts at a period when Col. 
Cowen's hounds had ceased to go so far west. Indeed, I do 
not know that Col. Cow en ever drew the moor edge coverts, 
which have been mentioned, and which are several miles west 
of Blanchland; and after Mr. Joicey retired there was a short 
period when the Haydon was called the " Hexhaonshire and 
Haydon," and had for a master a Mr. Wear, who lived within, 
a few miles of Blanchland, close to the Braes of Derwent 
border. After Mr. Priestman took the last-named pack this 
Hexhamshire hunt drew certain coverts further down the Der- 
went Valley than Blanchland, and to which the Haydon had no 
right whatever. The two packs clashed once, and there was a 
good deal of friction, but when the lat© Major Harvey Scott 
took the Haydon an amicable arrangement was quickly arrived 
at, and now, as I have explained, certain coverts at the head 
of the valley are neutral to the two countries. On the north 
side of the Derwent, west of Eddys Bridge, about a mile 
from the river, there is a fine whin covert quite in the open, 
on Birkenside farm. This covert I have seen drawn by the 
Tynedale in two masterships, but since Mr. Priestman took 
the Braes of Derwent it has been exclusively his covert. Un- 
fortunately, Birkenside whin has been burnt more than once, 
but it quickly recovers again, as it lies in a sheltered position 
and faces south ; foxes are very fond of it. Other coverts here- 
abouts are Cronkley Banks, where cubs are usually bred, and 
Espershields, the last-named a narrow fir plantation with a 
heather bottom, almoeti a, mile long, and extending fro^m the 
crown of the ridge half-way to the river. This is one of 
tile best coverts in the hunt as far as lying is concerned, and 
a fairly sure find, but Acton Wood and the Priest's Bank 
further west, and quite near to Blanchland, are by no means 
certain finds, and not very frequently drawn. Birkenside 
and Cronliley are on the Minsteracres estate, and Mr. John 
Cowen, secretary of the hunt, is the tenant of Minsteracres, 
and has the shooting in his hands. Minsteracres is, when 
everything is considered, the most sporting place in the 
hunt. It lies high, and is remote from population, has no 


village near it, while on the estate are several hundred acres 
of woodlands, while for many years past there has always been 
a fine supply of foxes. The estate is a large one, and its 
southern side, between the river Derwent and the crown of 
the hill, consists of large pastures of grazing land, with no 
coverts except the whin at Birkenside, which I have men- 
tioned, but round the hall and park, and on all the north side 
of the estate, are numerous plantations, two capital gorse 
coverts, and two long and rather narrow wooded gills. If 
foxes goi the righti way asi good sport is forthcoming froim 
Minsteracres as from any other part of the hunt, but to 
appreciate hunting about Minstieracreis and Healey (which 
adjoins it oin the north-west) coujitry one shoiuld have that 
knowledge of the district which only comes of long acquaint- 
ance, and this is absolutely necessary if one is to remain 
with hounds. The fact is that in this part of the Braes 
of Derwent hunt there are a chain of coverts which extend 
from the Tyne Valley to the crown of the hill five or six miles 
away, and though the chain is broken in several places, many 
of the coverts are so close together that those who are not 
well up with hounds may easily lose touch with the pack. 

But when this happens it is because a woodland fox is 
being hunted, and there is hereabouts so much woodland that 
the sort of fox I have in mind is not necessarily a fox which 
hangs to his own quarters, but rather one which travels 
far, and knowing the country well, prefers to run through 
the many coverts to going into the open. Thus the Minster- 
acres Gill is nearly two miles long, and is joined to the Kellas 
plantations at its western end, and a fox will take hounds 
the length of the gill, circle through the two huge Kellas 
woods, and by crossing the Lead road reach Healey Dene, 
another long gill, with supplementary spurs, separated by only 
a couple of fields from Healey Big Wood, a plantation of 
several hundred acres, much beloved of the vulpine tribei, 
but much of which has been recently out' down. And from 
Healey Big Wood he can reach Minsteracres Gill again 
without being in the open for more than five or ten 
minutes at a time, and repeat the same tactics if so inclined. 
But such a round as I have described — and I have seen many 
similar hunts — takes a full hour to complete even when scent 


is good in covert, and hounds are running hard all the time, 
but more frequently, especially if scent is not particularly 
good in covert, fresh foxes intervene, and this applies to the 
Healey coverts even more than those of Minsteracres. It 
•will be understood, then, that in hunts of this character a 
stranger must choose a pilot, and his choice may be lucky or 
the reverse, for the field has a habit of splitting up into 
groups, and is never concentrated as when the hunting takes 
place in the open. It is the case that all the regular attendants 
of these Minsteracres and Healey meets know the country 
well, but all have not the same ideas, and, for example, if 
hounds are drawing Healey Big Wood, or run a fox into it, 
men and women will be seen going in several directions, 
some along the many rides of the covert, others to points of 
vantage outside, and so forth. The covert has many rides 
through and across it, but they want knowing, for there 
is an occasional boggy bottom, and at least one dangerous 
place. And as regards the Kellas plantations, there is one 
good road through each of the woods, while the rides, 
especially in South Kellas, are almost bottomless in wet 
weather. The shooting of the Healey and Kellas plantations, 
the property of INIr. Warde Aldam, of Monk Fryston, Yorks, 
is rented by Mr. Dickinson, of Healey Hall, a regular follower 
of the hunt, who has a sublime disregard for the bogs in his 
own neighbourhood, but though he knows exactly when t© 
hop round a bog, or get oflf and lead for a few yards, the 
same knowledge is not vouchsafed to everyone, and to put 
it briefly, great circumspection is required in these coverts. 

It must be understood that what are called bogs are not 
real bogs like the Irish ones, but soft places of very small 
extent, generally not more than a couple of yards across, 
but green and inviting to the unwary, and quite soft enough 
to bring a horse down. What I have described is one, and 
the worst, side of hunting in the Minsteracres and Healey dis- 
trict, and now going back to the former place I may say 
something about its best side, and j5rst I may mention the 
two whin coverts at Minsteracres. One of these is on New- 
field farm, and foxes found on it five times out of six at once 
cross Barley Hill and go either to Newhoiis© or Espershields, 
both on the south side of the ridge. From the place named 


they may travel on to any part of the country, but it may 
almost be taken for granted that a Minsteracres fox who 
begins by breaking to the south will never go near the big 
woodlands on the north side of the estate and beyond it. 
Adjoining the Newfield whin is a strip of plantation with fine 
heather lying, and if there is no fox in the whin there is 
generally one in this strip — Wylies Hill by name — and vice 
versa. Beyond is the high road, Allansford to Corbridge, and 
beyond that the open sawmill wood, with a gill to the east^ 
and a whin called Letch Houses to the south. At the moment 
this is probably the best whin covert in the hunt, and not 
only have a great number of foxes been killed from it of late 
years, but some capital hunts have had it for their starting- 
point. Like the Newfield whin half a mile away, foxes break, 
as a rule, to the open country from Letch Houses, and per- 
haps most frequently to the east, but at times they go up and 
over the hill, and run to the Shotley plantations. Some 
four or five years ago hounds had a great afternoon hunt 
from this covert. They were put into it about two o'clock, 
and instantly chopped a fox, while at the same moment 
another fox broke up the hill to the south. Without wait- 
ing to break up the dead fox hounds were clapped on to 
the fresh one, and for the next thirty-five minutes ran hard 
over an open grass country to the river Derwent, which they 
reached on Hole House farm, about a mile east of Allans- 
ford. Here they checked, where there is a little belt of newly 
planted trees adjoining the river. A quarter of a mile away* 
is a well-known badger earth (out of the stop that day), and 
the huntsmen had actually begun to cast hounds towards 
the earth when an old hound, whose name I do not remember, 
but who was by the Morpeth Solomon, and who was very 
light coloured, was seen just beyond the belt, and though 
he did not speak, it looked a certainty that he had the line. 
The pack were brought back, and hitting it off immediately 
crossed the river, and ran to the east of Castleside, going 
over the North Durham boundary, and as far west as White- 
hall. They then went left-handed, but I cannot remember 
whether they touched Lord Bute's. They ran by China and 
Sheepwalks, however, and into the park at Woodlands, where 
they were stopped, because it was almost dark. This was a 


great hunt with a very long point, and the curious part of it 
was that the fox as he reached the Derwent had the Sneep 
coverts on his right and the Shotley plantations on his left, 
but went straight on into a strange country, and apparently 
with no big covert in view. 

Another fox a year or two earlier went from Newfield to 
Mickley, hounds covering the six miles between the two places 
without a check, and I think this fox got to ground. This 
gallop followed a first draw, and hounds were brought back 
to the INIinsteracres neighbourhood. At which covert they 
found their afternoon fox I do not remember for certain, 
but am sure it was on the east side of the high road, either 
at the whin (Letch Houses) or the Sawmill Wood. Anyhow, 
they made a seven-mile point to the Haydon covert at 
Dukesfield, and the larger portion of the pack went out on 
the west side, while the others got on to a fresh fox in the 
covert. The master, who was the huntsman, and all the field 
with the exception of Mr. Dickinson and myself, remained 
in Dukesfield, the volume of sound suggesting that the full 
pack was there, though hidden to view ; but we two, who had 
somehow reached the western boundary, had seen what had 
taken place, and did our best to follow. Hounds, however, 
had a long start, and they reached Steel Crag before we got 
near them, and then turned left handed. After a time we 
succeeded in stopping them on the open moor, and I had the 
rather difficult job of taking them some fourteen miles to 
kennel in the dark. Luckily, many of them knew my voice, 
and Mr. Dickinson was with me as far as Dukesfield, by which 
covert we went, thinking we might pick up the master and 
the rest of the pack. I am sorry I cannot give the dates of 
these hunts, but I have mislaid all my old hunting diaries, 
and also the cuttings from the Field in which the runs were 
described at the time. Those who took part in the runs 1 
have mentioned will doubtless remember them. And while 
I am on the subject of hunts from the western end of the 
Braes of Derwent country, I may bring to recollection a 
joint meet of the Braes of Derwent and Haydon hounds. 
This meet was held after there had been a complete recon- 
ciliation between the two hunts, and took place at Blanchland. 
Though the place is so remote there was a field of over a 


hundred, and Mr. Priestman hunted hounds. Almost as a 
rule a joint meet is (I think) a failure as far as sport is 
concerned, but on this occasion hounds found at Ellers Hill, 
and ran for thirty-five minutes without a check, killing their 
fox on the open moor, near the head of Nocton burn. It was 
a bad line the fox chose, but all in the open, and a big 
majority of the field never attempted to follow hounds after 
they left the valley near Riddlehamhope, the result being that 
only twelve were there when the fox was killed. Eleven of 
them were from the Braes of Derwent country, the solitary 
Haydon man being Archer, who was then huntsman of the 
pack. There was, I understand, a deal of festivity in Blanch- 
land that day, and this festivity set in shortly after this hunt, 
but by this time the two' fields had become soirted out, and 
when we drew ]loughside, from which we had an afternoon 
hunt, the Haydon people had practically disappeared. I 
think I may say that the Haydon contingent that day was 
not in the least typical of the hunt as it is now, or as it was 
in Mr. Joicey's day, but that all the festive spirits of a big 
area had been got together perhaps more with a view to con- 
viviality than hunting, and anyhow, I am sure that the two 
licensed houses of the beautiful old village would benefit con- 

East of Minsteracres the country is open for many miles. 
There is a long narrow covert named Fotherley Gill, parallel 
with the Lead road, and a second gill ati right angles toi it, 
which joins Fotherley Gill at Low Bridges. Both gills are 
much favoured by foxes:, and are frequently drawn with 
suooess. Further east, again is a plantation called Watch 
Hill, the name being derived from the fact that the summit 
of this hill was once used as a lookout when attacks from the 
Scots — or in more recent times from Mossitroopars — were 
expected. The view from the top of this hill enables one to 
look over all the southern part of Northumberland, and a. good 
deal further. Simonside Hill, near Rothbury, though thirty 
miles away, seems quite near on a clear day, and the Cheviot 
Hills beyond are alsoi distinctly visible when there isj no mist, 
whilst in the foreground the whole ol the Tynedale country 
is laid out like a. map, it being quite an easy matter to pick 
out all the well-known landmarks and many of the most 


important coverts. And from the ridge of the hill — whers 
one is in the Braes of Derwent country — it is possible to see a 
great deal of the Haydon country when looking westward, the 
Tynedale, Morpeth, Coquetdale, North Tyne, Border, and 
Percy countries when looking northward, and the North and 
South Durham, and Lord Zetlands when looking southwards. 
Probably also one's sight when looking to the south travels 
into the Hurworth and Bedale countries, for the old race- 
course at Richmond, with its landmark of " wooded 
height," is clearly discernible, and the eye can travel well 
beyond it on either side. Indeed, local knowledge is to the 
effect that objects and places can be locaticd, both north and 
south, which are fifty miles away, and I myself have seen 
the Cheviot Hills on one side, then, by turning round, Rich- 
mond racecourse on the other, not once, but a. score of times. 
If one is shooting up here or riding out with hounds in the 
summer, the views are always an attraction, and one notices 
them e?i route to a meet of hounds, but during a hunting' day 
one is apt tO' forget all about them, and I remember a visitor 
from the West Cumberland Hunt being soi much taken up 
with the view from the top of Grey Mare Hill — the next 
point to Watch Hill — that his horsei walked into a drinking 
pond by the side of the lane while he was taking in the 
wonderful panorama. Whenever I have had time to look 
on a hunting day I am always struck by the appearance of 
the Tynedale country, which stretches out to the north in 
a grass plateau of about twenty miles either way. At the top 
of the hill I am writing about one is five miles above the 
River Tyne and several hundred feet above the plateau. This 
makes the rise (in the Tynedale country) from the Tyne to 
the higher ground appear to be much slighter than it readly 
is, bvit. the great beauties of the country from a. hunting 
point of view are clearly discernible, for there is an absence 
of woodlands, an absence of railways, of all signs of popula- 
tion and of big villages, and, in fact, little is visible except 
large enclosures of grassland. It looks what it is, an ideal 
hunting country, and, though one can hardly see them, one 
knows that there is scattered about a fine supply of small, 
well-kept gorse coverts exactly where they are wanted. 

The country round Watch Hill is all graas, some of it rather 


steep, but mosit of it on a gradual slope. Tliere are no coverts 
near the summit of tlie hill, and the plamtiatioii called Watch 
Hill is a mile below the ridge, and is not io good a coverti as 
it onoe was, owing to the heather undergrowth having 
gradually disappeared. Fifteen years ago it was the most 
popular coverti in the hunt, and the starting point of many 
good hunts, buti times change, and hounds now run through 
it far oftener than they find a fresh fox in its recesses. In 
my early hunting days the T'ynedale oftein came to 
Minsteracres, especially towards the end of the season, and I 
can remember a very fine hunt from Watch Hill, towards 
the end of the 'seventies. Hounds met at Minsteracres, and 
drew the coverts on the east side of the hall without finding. 
There were not tooi many foxes in this particular locality 
then, but they got on to a stale line in Fotherley Gill, 
and worked slowly tO' Watch Hill. The plantation was quite 
new then, and there was a. lot of gorse where the trees now 
are, and from the lane the whole covert was visible. Ho'Unds 
sent a fox out on the south side, who went over the hill and 
for ai mile or twoi down the valley, and then circled right- 
handed to- Eddy's Bridge, and came roomd by Birkenside and 
Moorgame to Minsteracres, and thence through several 
coverts to the Lead road, where he got intoi a, drain under 
the road, and from which he was got out and killed. This 
was a fast and good hunt., though in a circle, and I remember 
that several of the Tynedale men ol that day, whoi seldom 
came to meets on the south side of the Tyne, were loud in 
their praises of the country, and more particularly of the 
soundness of the going. More recently, perhaps eight or ten 
years ago, the Braeis of Derwent had a great run from Watch 
Hill. They approached it from the Whittongtall side, found 
two foxes, and went away on the west side, running a fast 
loop of half an hour over the Fotherley farms and then 
regaining the coverti. They werei out again on the south 
side almost immediately, and ran to Allansford on the 
Derwent, went on intoi the North Durham country, and finally 
were stopped at. dusk near a lonely honse named Badajoz, 
which is situated midway between the West Auckland turn- 
pike at Drover House and the meeting place of the North 
Durham at Salters Gate, and which is less than two miles 


from Broom£Jiield.s. The fox was viewed just in froiifc a few 
minutes before hounds were stopped, but he was going on to 
Sand Edge Moor, and it was so dark that to' gO' on would 
probably have meant losing hounds. In this hunt a cob, out 
at grass, joined in shortly after the Derwent was crossed, and 
remained with the leading horseman over many miles of 
country, jumping the walls like a stag, but not allowing any- 
one to go near him. When all was over hei submitted to be 
caught quietly enough, and luckily someone had noticed the 
place where he joined the hunt, so there was no difnoulty about 
taking him home. In fact, when a. whipper-in arrived with, 
him long after dark his absence had not been detected by the 
farmer who owned him. 

North of Watch Hill and Fotherley Gill are coverts at 
Hindley Hall, and a., chain of plantations owned by Lord Allen- 
dale, which extend alongside the River Tyne from Stocksifield 
to Riding Mill, and which at their western end are not widely 
separated from the Healey plantations. In this district of 
the hunt there is perhaps more woodland hunting than in any 
other part, but these Tyneside plantations have lots of dry 
lying, are well off for rides, and always hold foxes. In 
Broomley Hope — the biggest covert of the chain — there are 
main earths where cubs are always bred, and the little wood 
beyond, named Cat Dene, is also an almost certain find, and, 
as the field are generally on the east side of the covert^ Vv'hen 
it is drawn, foxes break south and frequently go far afield. 
Indeed, two very fine hunts from Cat Dene have taken place 
in recent seasons. In one, at which I was not present, the 
fox was killed (I believe) near Allansford, and in the other in 
the open field near Browns Bog, half a mile from Shotley 
Field. West of Cat Dene is Shilford Wood, also a good covert., 
from which foxes break as a rule to the south, in full view 
of the field, and farther south, some two miles from the river, 
is Broomley Fell, a long, v.'ooded ravine, and a really good 
covert, but not very often drawn, simply because there is no 
meeting place very near it and hounds generally run through 
it from Healey Big Wood, or from the riverside covertsi just 
named, and which are drawn after meets at Hindley Hall 
or Hindley cross roads. One other covert on this north side 
of the country remains to be mentioned, and this is composed 


of HeJlister Wood and Strak&r's Bog. These two planta- 
tions are practically one covert, but there are two owners, 
Straker's Bog belongs to a relative of the Master of the Tyne- 
dale. The two coverts are a certain find, and have 
wonderful lying, Straker's Bog being partially a 
whin coverti, and having an undergrowth of heather else- 
where, but foxes found here have a knaok of ringing round 
Healey Dene and Healey Big Wood, and perhaps provide 
fewer good runs than a majority of Braes of Derwent 
foxes. I have now described all the western end of the 
hunt, and I may mention that the Master divides the district 
into four quarters and meets in each quarter once in every 
four weeks. On the south aide the Shotley plantations are 
for one day, with meets at the kennels, Shotley Bridge, 
Ebchester, Newlands, or Shotley Field. The riverside coverts 
from Shotley Bridge to the Sneep inclusive, with meets at 
Bridge Hill, Allansford, or Caterway Head form the other 
southecrn section, while on the north side the Minsteracres 
and Kellas Coverts, with meets at Minsteracres, Scales Cross, 
and occasionally at Unthank or Winnow's Hill, comprise one 
of the northern sections, while the other includes the Healey, 
Lord Allendale's, and Mrs Pumphrey's covertQ, and hounds 
meet most frequently at Healey Hall, Hindley cross roads, 
Hindley Hall, and occasionally at Brooanley, or at Oaklands. 
This leaves out the Blanchland country, for which there are 
no regular days and hounds go there most frequently in the 
early autumn and late spring. 

Before discussing the eastern side of the country it should 
be mentioned that there is a bit of intermediate country which 
may be used either from the east, or westi, the coverts being 
the Hollins Gill, the Duke's Rush, and The Heugh. Foxes 
are always bred at the Hollins, which liea a mile east of the 
Watling-street, and sometimes these coverts are first drawn 
from a. Whittonstall meet, which, if it takes place on a 
Saturday, means going west when the Hollins country is done 
with, and going east if the meet is on a Wednesday. Plans 
are, as a matter of course, at times altered by foxes going in 
an Tinexpected direction and country being disturbed that was 
not intended to be drawn, but the main lines of the* average 
meet are closely adhered to, and thus the country is all fairly 


hunted. It must be understood, too', that tJie Blanchland 
country, tJiough not in the regular rotation for meets, has 
fewer coiverts and fewer foxes than any of the other dis- 
tricts, and thati, whil&it hounds are there leaa often than 
elsewhere, they go quite often enough toi do all that is 

In like manner the eastern end of the hunt is quartered, 
the district nearest thei kennels including the Pout, and the 
coverts round Hamsterley Hall on the south side, and Milk- 
well Burn on the north side of the Derwent. Beyond, on the 
south side of the river, are the Gibside coverts, with Thornley 
Burn, and other places on the north side for the afternoon, 
and these take another day, while on the north side of the 
hill there are also' two' groups of coverts, one including the 
Blaydon Burn country, and the other the country near 
Prudhoe Hall. And almost in the centre of the eastern 
portion of the hunt are Chopwell Wood, the Spen Bank, and 
a few smaller coverts, and when these are drawn the order of 
procedure may have to' be altered in accordance with what 
happens. Hounds, for example, meet at Armondside for 
Chopwell and at Low Spen for Spen Bank, and on these occa- 
sions it may be that Milkwell Burn is the afternoon draw 
from an Armondside meet, or that the Blaydon Burn coverts 
are visited from a Low Spen meet. With the exception of 
Chopweill and the Pont, the coverts on the eastern side of the 
hunt are not very large, but foxes found anywhere in the 
disitrioti may goi from one " quarter " tO' another, or run 
through the best coverts in two' or three " quarters," and 
when this happens there may be a rearrangement of plans. 
V/hat occurs comparatively very seldoim is that a. fox found 
in the easitem portion of the hunt crosses the Watling-street 
to the west, or vice versa, and this is somewhat remarkable, 
seeing that, there is no natural boundary, such as a river or 
a great woodland, and that on the Watling-street between 
the Derwent and the Tyne there is only one small village 
(Whittonstall) of not more than twenty cottiages. At times, 
cf course, foxes cross the boundary between east and west in 
good hunts, and most frequently between the Hollins and the 
Mere Burn; but on five days out of six, if hounds begin the 
day in the east, they finish in the east, and this also applies 


to tiie western side of the country. To go more intoi detail, 
there are two' meets for the Pont. — one at Long Close Gate, on 
the Newcastle toi Shotley Bridge road, and the other at 
Pont Head, a. bleak spot high up the country, where the 
Pont streiam has its source. The two meeta mean drawing 
tlie same coverts, froan the south end after meeting at Pont 
Head, and from the north end after meeting at Long Close Gate. 
The last-named place isJ most frequently cho&en, and hounds 
begin, as a rule, by drawing the Ha.g Banks, on the Derwent, 
where a fox may easily cross the river into Chopwell Wood. 
Then exactly at the meeting place is a. useful wood named 
Medomsley Banks, on the Hamsterley Estate., and east of it 
the Chimney Wood, both likely, but not certain finds, merely 
because all foxes bred there go sooner or latier to thei Pont 
Gill. This covert is three miles long and is a ravine, narrow 
in some places, broader in others, and with several spurs thrust 
out intO' the open countiy. It is perhaps as much beloved of 
foxes a& any covert I know of in the north, and even quito 
late in the season there will often be four or five on foot by 
the time hounds have reached the centre of the covert.. There 
are five diif owners in the three-mile length of the ra,vin6, 
and, therefore, there has at times been a good deal of trouble 
in connection with the stopping ; but. in these days two 
prominent members of the hunt, Mr F. Kirkup, of Medo.m9- 
ley, and Mr Robinson, of South Medomsley, have o.rganised 
raatt.ers to great advantage, and running to. ground is not 
so common as it once was. But the hunting which takes place 
at the Pont is not altogether popular, for the place essentially 
favours hound work, and good rung in the o.p.e.n do not. come 
from it every day. The trouble is that hounds frequently 
divide, and that the foxes go up and down the ra,vine, or 
merely cross tlie open into one of the spurs and roach the 
main gill again. The field remain on the grass outside, and 
generally on the west, side of the covert., and there is alwa.ys 
a crowd of foot people from the collieries further away, and 
which, by the way, do not interfere with Pont hunting in the 
least. But the unexpected happens sometimes, and early in 
1912 there came from the Pont one of the very best hunts 
which has taken place since Mr Priestman took the hounds. 
An enterprising fox left the covert by Southfields Farm, and 


rau a ring round tiie Medomsley country, going back to the 
Pont. He went straight through, however, and with half a 
dozen riders in attendance on hounds they ran an extra- 
ordinary line into the colliery country at Tanfield, turning on 
the Pea Farm at Tanfield Lea, and going back to the Pont on 
a parallel line. Here the bulk of the field who had not 
followed hounds through the covert joined in, and hounds, 
having reached the Pont near the centrei, ran up the Dipton 
Burn to Soixth Medomsley, went^ over the golf links on Pontop 
Pike — the highest hill in the county of Durham east, of the 
moors — and cros&ed into the North Durham country, going 
for two or three miles over a most unusual line and through a 
very populous country. They then sank the valley to 
Durham Hill, ran through Greencroft Park, crossed the 
Lobley Hill road half a mile west of Lanchester, had a check 
on Moor Leazes Farm, but hit it. off again, and went on to 
Burnhopeside, through the covert., and finally were run o.ut of 
scent at West Langley. 

It was t.hought at the time that the fox must, have got 
to ground in the Burnhopeside earths, and hounds had gone 
on with a fresli fox from this North Durham covert, but 
the point was never decided. At the same time, they were 
running very hard when they went intoi Burnhopeside, and 
when they emerged on the Durham side of the covert, the 
pace had gone, and, though they had a. linei for a. mile or 
two, they were probably hunting a. different fox, which had 
gone on to Lord Durham 'si Langley coverts beyond. This 
was a great, hunt in point of distance and the amount of 
country covered, and I think I am right in saying that no 
one saw it all through, simply because the first circle 
the field remained on the west side of the Pont, 
hounds to go up or down the gill, while in reality they had 
gone straight through and were quickly out of sight. I missed 
the first part., but was one of the half-dozen who saw what 
fishmongers call the middle bit, and I never had such an 
awkward ride in my life. The Master was alsoi there and the 
second whipper-in, but the huntsman had been hung up by 
wire at Medomsley, and was for the time an absentee. In 
that part of the hunt, which lasted an hour, we crossed half 
a dozen colliery railways, were stopped by wire more than 


onoe, and had to find our way tlirough two colliery villages. 
But the ground was bare everywhere, and hounds had to work 
for the line all the timei, and thus we were able to keep near 
them until we reached ai place named Straightneck Wood, on 
the return journey. There we had toi lead over a chasm and 
a wired tram line, and when we got clear of what would be 
better called Crooked Neck Wood, hounds were three-quarters 
of a mile ahead, and the field, who had waited for a whole 
hour, were with them. However, we caught them up at 
Greencroft, and saw the end. The pace from the Ponti to 
Bumhopeside was very fast, and at the Moor Leazes check 
two horses were sO' beaten that their riders had to get> off 
and lead them to- Lanchester, where they were left for the 
night. In all there were fifteen ridersi at the end, including 
three or four ladies, and I may add that, the country covered 
in the latter part of the run was just as good as that encoun- 
tered in the middle part was bad. But in all my experience 
I never knew of a. fox going from the Pont intO' the Tanfield 
count^ry except on this particular occasion, and on nineteen 
Pont days out of twenty hounds never go near a colliery or 
colliery village. 

Immediately below the Pont Gill, where the Pont, stream 
reaches the Derwent, there are some wooded banks, and at 
times a Pont fox will take hounds along these banks tO' the 
Gibsid© coverts, which are on the same side of the stream, 
but several miles lower down. Indeed, the East Lodge at 
Gibside is no more than half a dozen miles from Newcastle, 
and for the Gibsid© coverts hounds meet at Gibside Hall, 
Rowlands Gill, or the Gibside Watergate. The principal 
coverts on the estate, which is owned by Lord Strathmore, 
are the West. Wood and Snipes Dean, and the West. Wood 
is usually the first draw and a certain find. There are, how- 
ever, many pitfalls from old mine workings hereabouts, and 
foxes usually cross the park to Snipes Dean, though occa- 
sionally one goes into the open on the south side. Snipes 
Dean is a beautiful covert, but not noted for great runs, and, 
as a rule, there is much riding up and down the rides, a great 
deal of covert hunting, and unless a fox crosses the Derwent, 
no great amount of sport. Parts of the covert, too, are bad 
scenting ground, so much so, indeed, that when a fox is 


brougiiti into tJie covert from the north side of the Derwent 
it is almost impossible to drive him through. It has been 
done, but vctj occasionally, and I can think of only two 
fine hunts which went right through Gibside. The first, at 
which I was not present, occurred some fifteen years ago 
with a fox found at Craw crook Whin, near "Ryton, and within 
a mile of the Tyne. This fox crossed the country to the 
Derwent, and went right through Gibside to the Ravens- 
worth coverts, hounds making a seven-mile point. The other 
case I havei in mind was a, fox from the Ponti, which was hunted 
to Gibside, and then right back to^ the Pont, and killed on 
the main earths, which were, of course, stopped. The Ravens- 
worth coverts, three or four miles ea&t. of Gibside, are not 
drawn in these days; but there is a covert, between the two 
places called the Carroti Beds, and onei or twoi little srpinneys 
in the same neighbourhood, ati which a fox is occasionally 
found. Before mentioning the coverts in this neighbourhood 
on the opposite side of the river I may state that there is a 
bit of outlying country, belonging to the Braes of Derwent 
Hunt, some four or five miles due south of Gibside, with 
coverts at Causey, Beamish Park, and Urpeth. The Causey 
covert is a picturesque glen, or would be picturesque if it 
were not for the fact that it is situated in a. colliery neighbour- 
hood. Not long ago I saw a print of " Causey Arch, in the 
County of Durham," in a printseller's window in High 
Holbom, and this was dated more than a hundred years back, 
and depicts the aforesaid arch, which was really a waggon- 
way or tramline used for carrying coal. The covert is of no 
value in these days, buti the coverts round Beamish Hall are 
excellent, and, as a rule, well foxed. Hounds meet at Beamish 
Hall once a year, and the trouble usually isi that the foxes 
know noi country and never go far afield. I have seen one 
fair day from Beamish in perhaps half a dozen visits, but there 
were always plenty of foxes to hunt. Urpeth lies even further 
south and east, and is sometimes visited on a Beamish day ; but 
the country all round is too populous for hunting, and 
Beamish, with its deer park and well-kept coverts, is really an 
oasis in a desert of coal mining. 

The country east of the kennels and north of the Derwent 
is perhaps as productive of sport, as any in the hunt, in spite 


of the fact that it contains several collieries. It is hardly of 
the same chaxacter as the western part of the hunt, the white 
land and all grass of th.e w«st being replaced by f armsi which are 
partly arable and partly grass, where the inclosaires are much 
smaller and most of the land at a. lower level. Neither are 
the coverts, with the exception of Chopwell Wood, anything 
like so big as those of Healey or Kellas, for example, and, in 
brief, iti is a good country to get' about in, and on nine days out. 
of te'U carries a fair scent. Ebchestier on the Derwent, and 
Stockfield on thei Tyne form the boundaries between east and 
west, and opposite Ebchester is the Heugh Wood, and ea&t of 
it a fine whin covert in the open, on Broadoak Farm. Hard 
by is Milkwell Burn Wood, a first-rate covert, which not 
many years agO' was drawn fifteen times in succession and was 
never blank. There are two gills in this covert and two' or 
three spurs, but it is a good hearing covert, and at times has 
provided capital sport. Its foxes either go to" Chopwell, over 
the hill to the Prudhoe coverts, or to the Hollins, and there 
i3 a good chance of sport in each of these directio'ns, but the 
Chopwell line is the worst. At odd times, too, they cross the 
river and run to the Pont, and some threes or four years ago 
a fox took hounds to Shotley Bridge Station many miles away, 
and then went to ground on Elm Park Farm, less than a, mile 
from the kennels. The worst of Milkwell Bum is that in mid- 
season the rides are for the most part deep, but even this 
hag its advantages, for if hounds leave the covert when the 
field is congregated on the open space in the centre they have 
time to settle nicely, and are in no fear of being over-ridden, 
for the riders must detour a little, probably in single file, and 
almost' certainly in deep going. I have oftien thought it 
should be the best plan to keep outside the covert on the north 
side; but the spurs shoot up into^ the fields beyond, and are 
so short of crossings that it- has been the custom for long 
enough toi follow hounds into this coverti, and keep as near 
them as possible when they are running, for a peculiarity of 
the covert is that most of its foxes allow themselves to be well 
hunted inside the wood beforei they take to' the open. Chop- 
well, the best Derwentside covert toi the east of Milkwell Bum, 
is ten times the size of thei latter, but foxes break from it moat 
readily, and at times give capital hunts. 


This Chopwell is Crown property, and isi doubtless the 
original of " Pinch Me Near " Forest. It is about 1200 acres 
in exteait, but much of it is very bare, and through the greater 
part, of it hounds travel as fast, as they do in t.he open country. 
Time was, not many years ago, when the shooting was in the 
hands of the Master's family, and when Mr Priestmaa first 
took the hounds much of the covert was far thicker than it 
now isi, and there would be three separate colonies of foxes in 
different quarters. Now there^ is a colliery railroad through 
the north side, a large and comparatively new colliery village 
at the north- west, comer of the wood, and much of the acreage 
has beien given over to the forestry department, of the 
Armst.rong College at Newcastle-on-Tyne. There are many 
wide rides, all good going everywhere, but since the new 
element was introduced it is not unusual to find a square of 
the forest freshly wired round, and, in fact, the place has 
become much more difficult to hunt and awkward to get about 
in. But still there are three portions of the wood much liked 
of foxes, namely, the steep banks of the river near Lintz 
Ford, a small, young plantation in the centre, and the 
extreme north- eaisterly corner of the covert. — beyond which 
there is an open whin covert, known as Bone Hill. From this 
whin there came five seasons ago a. re.marka.bly fine hunt. 
Whether the fox was found in the covert or the whin beyond 
I hardly know, but hounds had a line out of the covert, and 
intO' the whin, and the fox was then viewed a quarter of a 
mile beyond the whin. It was after two o'clock, in the short 
days, but all the field were there, and hounds ran so- fast 
over Horsegate and Broo.mfield farms that there was soon a. big 
tail of riders. Going parallel with the Lead road — which 
hereaboutg is on the ridge of the hill — they reached Airy Hill, 
and here they checked in a field full of sheep and cattle, where 
were also. two. men throwing turnips from a oart.. Just, as 
hounds checked the fox was viewed again, now t.wo fields in 
front. But hounds hit it off themselves, and, leaving 
Hedley Hill on their right, ran to. the Duke's Rush, thence to 
Kipper Linn and Watch Hill. Here a. fresh fox took away 
two or three couples; but. the body of the pack never 
hesitated, and went on through Fotherly Gill, over the great 
pastures of Broomley, and stopped for a moment at. some 


rabbit holes in aii open field on High. Shilford Farm. This 
was the second check, and hounds were quickly going again, 
and ran down to the Tyne, where they were stopped when 
about tO' cross the river, being, in fact, out on a. gravel bed 
when they were reached. It was now nearly four o'clock, and 
far too late for a foray into the Tynedale country, even with 
such a wonderful scent as this was. Hounds had made a nine- 
mile point, had never been in covert except twice for a few 
minutes when crossing the Duke's Rush and Fotherly Gill, 
and the field had fined down to nine, three of whom were 
ladies. Personally, I have good reason to remember this run, 
for just before the finish I had ai most, lucky escape from all 
sorts of dangers. After leaving Fotherly Gill I was alone on 
the left of hounds. Across one of these fields runs a small 
open brook, and this had been swollen by a. recent thaw, and 
as I was crossing it the ground gave way, and a moment later 
I was on my back in the stream with the water coming 
over my face and my horse lying over my thighs and pinning 
me down. I could not move, and was on the point of being 
choked by the water when the horse rolled over and got up 
without touching me, and all that I suffered from was being 
wet through, with a ten-mile ride home in prospect. 

When it is intended to draw Chopwell hounds usually meet 
at Armonside or Lintz Ford, but, as I have explained, the 
covert may also be the aftemooai draw from the Low Spen, or 
even from a. Long Close Gate (on the south of the river) meet. 
Wilds Hill, a forty-acre plantation just east, of Chopwell, is 
an occasional find, buti the best and mosti sporting covert in this 
locality is Spen Bank, which has a lengthy gill to the north. 
Spen Bank has all sorts of lying except heather, and faces 
south, while the greater part of it is very dry. But its chief 
feature is that foxes leave it quickly and that there axe nice 
riding lines on almost every side. Foxes generally go. eaiStwards 
towards the Engine Wood, or, if not headed on the railway, 
over the hill to Martins Wood and the Blaydon Burn coverts. 
This heading ou the railway is the chief and only trouble 
which there is about Spen Banks. At. the top of the covert 
there is a colliery line, and when hounds draw the covert, the 
miners take up a. position on the railway for the express 
purpose of viewing a fox. If they (the miners) only keep 


together in a group half a dozen foxes may leave the oovert 
on this side; but these enthusiasts have a habit of straggling, 
and in consequence many foxes are headed here and sent back 
to covert in the course of every season. All the same, many 
good hunts come from Spen Bank every year, more especially 
perhaps when it is an afternoon draw not anticipated by the 
miners of Spen village. There is a nice whin covert a mile 
further east, and a capital cover beyond named Thornley 
Burn, an old oak plantation which, though there is a road at 
either end, is well secluded. This covert has a good reputa- 
tion for sport, while at Laud Wood, just beyond, there usted 
often to be a fox, but I have not been there for several seasons. 
Axwell Park, the most eastern covert, in the hunt, generally 
shelters a breed, but they are difficulti to hunti, for there is 
a deer park within the estate, and a great deal of beech in 
the coverts, which are, on the whole, bad scenting ground. 
I have seen many good hunts which ended at Axwell, but few 
which had their beginning at these covertiS, and the fact seems 
to be that if a fox is; found inside Axwell — which is surrounded 
by a high wall — he is disinclined to leave the park and itg 
environs, while a fox which belongs to Axwell and is bred 
eilsewhere will make straight for the park, and will know 
where he can scratch his way up the wall. When this 
happens — and it does happen fairly often — hounds have to 
be taken in at one of the gates, and then back to where the 
fox came in, and this generally means that the fox had the 
best of it afterwards. I have seen similar places in many 
hunts, and my experience is that where a park wall is too high 
for hounds the fox is generally lost. But I have a vivid 
recollection of one fox, who entered Axwell on the west side, 
was hunted through the park, and emerged on the Scotswood 
side, ran on to the Tyne, and attempted to cross within a 
quarter of a mile of Scotswood Bridge. He was drowned in 
midstream, recovered from a boat, and broken up in the 
field adjoining the Newcastle to Carlisle Railway. Axwell has 
lately been bought with a view to building. 

West of Axwell, less than a couple of miles away, is Blaydon 
Burn, long the residence of the late Colonel Cowen, and imtil 
twelve yearsi ago the home of his son, Mr J. E. Cowen, who 
now resides at Minsteracres. Colonel Cowen's kennels were 


here during the latter part of his mastership, and the place, 
though quite near a good deal of industriali&im, isi very smug, 
with a good covert called Brockwell Wood, not a, quarter of a 
mile from the house. A mile beyond is Chickens Wood, and 
beyond it Reely Mires, and, though all three are little places, 
they furnish a, great deal of sport, for cubs are always bred 
at the Brockwell, and in most years at Reely Mires as well. 
Then on the north side of Blaydon Burn there is a sitrong, 
inclosed gorse covert, known as Cow en's Whin. The country 
hereabouts is very open, for the Blaydon Bum coverts are in 
the open valley of the Barlow brook, and well away from the 
collieries, while on the north side of the valley there is a 
broad plateau of farm land, with no covert in it beyond 
Cowen's Whin. I have seen foxes come from all parts of the 
country to Blaydon Burn, many which have gone to 
Axwell; but if any of these foxes have come from a distant 
point the earths at the Brockwell have generally given them 
shelter. From Axwell itself the best hunt I ever saw came 
late in the afternoon. We had run a fox into the park, and 
were there for at least an hour, there being several lines. At 
length hounds found the line of a fox which had left near the 
Axwell Spa, and here there is a gate, which came in handy, so 
that no time was lost. The hunt which followed was not a 
fast one, but it took hounds over a great deal of country, 
and lasted all the afternoon, terminating in a kill on one of 
the main rides of Chopwell Wood and hard by what once was 
the official residence of " Mr Prettyfat." From Chopwell 
the best run I ever saw — and the best days I ever heard of 
in this country — took place on Jan. 9, 1904, and is described 
in The Foxhounds of Great Britain as follows: " Hounds 
met at Horsegate (adjoining Chopwell), found immediately, 
and ran for threie hours, always driving on with a holding 
scent, and always in the open. In fact, in a run which was 
reckoned to be quite twenty-five miles, they only crossed 
through two strips of plantation. Later in the day, with a 
greatly attenuated field, they ran over the very best of their 
country for one hour and twenty-five minutes, and hounds 
were never handled until they had been running for an hour 
and a quarter. In this run there was a point of about eight 
milesi; but the first run was circular, and, though hounds 


travelled from tlae Derwent to the Tyne and back, the finish 
was within three miles ol the find." This, as I have said, 
was almost if not quite the best day I ever had with Mr. Priest- 
man's pack, for scent waa extraordinarily good, and both 
fc'xes something quite out of the common. Theorei is a narrow 
plantation on Horsegate Farm, two fields away from! Chopwedl, 
and I seem to recollecit that thei first, fox was found therei, and 
not in Chopwell itself. That, however, is of little consequence. 
What I remember is that he only skirted the north side of the 
coverti, and worked round in a wide sweep over the Barlow 
country to the Tyne near Prudhoe. Still bending round, 
hounds came right back to the Derwent, close tot Rowlands 
Gill Station, and, turning again, sent their fox toi ground in 
the artificial earth in Bradley Dene, which earth was made 
by Mr Owen Wallis when he resided at Bradley Hall some 
thirty years ago. The great thing about this run waa 
the pace ; there were checks, of course, for there must be in a 
hunt which lasts three hours, but the pace was always good. 
The countiry rode light, in spite of the run taking place in 
January, and horses were all beat at the end. In fact, only 
those who had second horses out stayed on for the af teirnoon 
hunt, which came from Hyons Wood, in that part of the 
eastern country which has yet to be described. Hyons Wood 
is in: a small valley, and the bigger part, of the covert is on the 
south side of the brook which runs through it. As a rule, the 
field go up the open part of the wood on this south side, and 
on this occasion several of them followed the usual plan, while 
a few remained in the cartway which goes through the north 
end of the covert. The fox broke on this side, and hounds 
were away so fast, that they had topped the hill called Mickley 
Moor before those on the south side had time to reach the 
bottom of the covert, and none of this contingenti ever saw 
hounds again. Meantime the pack turned left^-handed just 
beyond the summit of the hill, and ran over a fine grass 
country, with not a single covert in it, until they reached 
Apperley Dene, where the fox was headed just as he waa on 
the point of entering Fotherly Gill. He then went, down the 
valley through Hindley to the village of Stocksfield, where he 
was lost in the darkness. It was afterwards discovered that 
he had crouched on the wheel of an old water-mill, and he 


was found tliere about six o'clock and driven away, houndsi 
having gone home more than an hour before. Hounds wetre 
never touched except when the fox was headed, and then the 
lady who had headed him was able to say where he had 
gone, and they hiti it off in a moment. During the latter part 
of this afternoon hunt the field fined down to lees than half a 
dozen, the pace being too good for any but fresh horses with 
plenty of breeding. 

The north-east quarter of the Braes of Derwent country is 
productive of a lot of sport, and, in fact, it. shares the honours 
in the matter of providing good hunts with the south-western 
quarter. The Healey country on the north-west and the lower 
part of the Derwent Valley, say, from the Pont to Gibside 
inclusive, are so thickly wooded that much of the hunting 
is covert work; but the north-eastern corner of the hunt is 
remarkably open, as is the country between the Shotley or the 
Sneep Coverts and Minsteracres. Blaydon Burn was always a 
popular meet, but hounds have hereabouts for many years been 
handicapped by the great number ol foot people who seize 
the points of vantage, confine the movements, and thwart the 
intentions of foxes, and yet who are justi as keen on the sport 
as the members of the hunt. These men are mostly miners not 
at work at the moment, and their presence in really great 
numbers in this, as in one or two other parts of the countiy, 
not only testifies to the popularity of the sporti, but brings a 
democratic element into the hunting field, which in these 
rather peculiar times is undoubtedly all for the best. Anyhov/, 
there is a sympathetic feeling of considerable intensity between 
the regular hunting people and the foot crowd, which is only 
in evidence at certain east country meets of the pack, and 
the farmers in this particular corner ol the world are so 
accustomed to trespass that they do not seem toi mind. As a 
matter of fact, the crowd collects in groups where there is 
a really good view, and remains pretty well in one placj, 
unless, indeed, a fox is killed or run to ground near it. I 
am inclined to think that these crowds do not' damage the 
fences, and certainly they cannot hurt the pa&ture land in 
winter time; not long ago> a large farmer, whose holding lies 
between a colliery and a covert, told me that he was far more 
troubled by the blackberry pickers in September than he ever 


was by a visit from the hounds, though in the latter 
there might be hundreds of men standing about on the higher 
parts of his land. When hounds are done with any ooverti or 
group of coverts in a colliery neighbourhood, and move off to 
another part of thei country, the crowd of foot people 
inperceptibly melts away, and in half an hour's time the 
country will be as quiet as on an ordinary day. There are 
perhaps half a dozen regular foot followers with the Braes of 
Derwent, all of whom come from the ranks of miners; but 
these make a business of hunting, especially on Saturdays, 
when in normal times the pits are not working, and these 
men walk long distances, and even travel by train to the 
station nearest a meet, and follow hounds throughout the 
day. These men, as will be understood, have considerable 
knowledge of hunting, and are frequently puppy walkers, 
while, if they happen to live near a covert, they will do all 
they can toi keep that covert quiet, especially if it contains a 
breeding earth. 

It is, I think, a fact that in a hunting country where there 
is industrialism also the hunt is helped in many little ways 
by certain of the wage-earners. The modus opercmdi is 
perhaps not very easy to explain, buti both in the North 
Durham and the Braes of Derwent country there are miners 
who do a great, deal to further the sport., and for noi reward 
beyond the feeling that they are in some degree helping the 
hunt. As puppy walkers, amateur watchers, and occasional 
earth stoppers — especially when ground has fallen in owing to 
colliery workings — they do a great deal for the hunt in the 
course of the year, and if anything happens (possibly with 
regard to foxes) in any particular neighbourhood which 
affects the hunt in the slightest degree someone visits the 
kennels at the earliest possible moment with information v/hich 
at times is of value. When hunting in a peculiarly agricul- 
tural district, I have seen labourers who did not even turn 
their heads when fox, hounds, and " field " passed over the 
inclosure in which they were working; but, as far as I have 
been able to judge, the average north country working man, 
whether a miner, an agricultural labourer, or employed in 
quite another ca.pacity, has a certain amount of sport in his 

I 2 


I have noi wish to lay down, any hard and fixed line on this 
particmlar subject, but I am fairly certain that this love of 
sport obtains greatly in some countries, and is almost, non- 
exisitent in others. It is perhaps as strongly marked on 
Exmoor as anywhere else, for it is impossible to ride home from 
any hunt with the Devon and Somerset. Staghounds without 
being asked by every man, woman, and child if the stag was 
taken, and, if so, where the stag wa& taken. I once amused 
myself by counting the number of questioners on a, ride from 
Dulvertou to Porlook Weir, and, though I have forgotten the 
number, it was very large, and, probably because it was not 
very lat© in the afternoon, most of the inquirers were women, 
standing at the cottage dooi's. In thei north one is questioned 
in just the same way during a ride home from hunting, the query 
being made by all of the children and moat of the labourers 
one meets going home from work; but the interest does not 
extend to the women as it does on Exmoor. In Surrey, too, 
the countryside is very anxious to know where the 3ta.g was 
taken, and seiems hardly able to undersitand that one may have 
been hunting with foxhounds when the staghounds were out. 
I remember riding with two friends through the village of 
Bleothingley after a day with the Burstow many years ago, 
on a particalarly gloomy evening, when a voice came out. of 
the darkness asking where the stag was taken. " Brighton," 
answered one of our party, and as quick aa lightning came the 

rejoinder, " You're a liar ! " " Dill ye kill, miste^r? " 

or ' ' How many foxes have ye catch ed ? " is what the school 
children ask in these northern hunts, and if the homeward 
ride happens to take in a village or two the query is so fre- 
quent as tO' become most wearing. And & propos, riding 
through a village on a dark night; during a day's hunting in 
the Braes of Derwent country at the time of the South African 
War, a hound which had been lame in the morning had been 
taken by a whipper-in to a village half a mile off, to be picked 
up after the sport was over. As it happened, the whipper-in 
was new to the country, and when we reached the village (I was 
going home with hounds) he could not locate the cottage he had 
left the hound at owing to the darkness. One or two inquiries 
were fruitless, and at length someone shouted a question aa 
to whether anyone knew where the hound was. " What's 


tlie dog's iiaxae? " was asked by a man sitanding in tth© road. 
" Tangible," replied the huntsman. " There's no dog of 
that name here. All the dogs in this village ia called Bobs, 
exoepti one, and he' a Buller. ' ' 

There ia still one small portion of the Braea of Derwenfc 
oountry to be described, and this is generally known &a the 
Prudhoe country. This district is in the Tyue Valley, between 
Ryton and Stockafield, and except for one big covert, called 
the Guards Wood, ia very open. We&t of the Blaydou Bum 
Goverta is Martina Wood, a ten-acre plantation, with four or 
five acres of gorge outside. It often holds a fox, as does the 
Quakers Wood, a little over a, mile to the north of Martins 
Wood, and where the lying is chiefly blackberry bushes. North 
of these, and nearer the Tyne is Crawcrook Whin, an occa- 
sional find, and on the low ground beyond, Bradley Dene, 
a wooded ravine which winds round Bradley Hall, and where 
a litter is usually bred. The western part, of this coverti is 
locally known as Stanley Bum, and it is at times a bad covert 
to get away from, for the bank is too steep to allow of any 
crosiaing, and thus either those on one side or those on the 
other are favoured, and one portion of the field must ride to 
one of the ends of the Dene in order to get. round. And after 
m.any years of seeing it drawn I have no' strong opinion as to 
whether it is best to be on the east, or the west side, for foxes 
break either way, though as a rule they do not leave the Deno 
until they have reached one of the ends. The high road from 
Newoaatle-on-Tyne to Hexham orossos Stanley Bum half a 
mile west of Bradley Hall, and separates the propeirty from 
the Prudhoe Hall estate on which are three famous covert.a — 
French's Close, the Guards Wood, and Hyons Wood. The two 
first named are joined by a stirip of woodland, and thei Guards 
Wood is a, beautiful covert, secluded in a fold of the hills, 
remote from population, and as a rule very well foxed. There good rides, too, and an occupation farm road all along the 
wiestem side, while the count.ry to the south, and west is wild 
and open. At times foxes from the Guards go over to Milkwell 
Bum in the Derwent Valley, and I have seen hounds cross the 
ridge of the hill between these two coverts — which are three 
or four miles apart — five times in one day. At times also they 
go east, to the Blaydon Bum district., and they also go to 


Chopwell, or to the Duke's Rush, near Whittonstall. Occa- 
sionally they will haag to the Prudhoe Coverts and Bradley 
Dene close by ; but on the whole they are travellerg, and good 
runs from the Guards or from Hyons Wood are of fairly fre- 
quent ooourrence. Hyons Wood was for a time a rabbit 
warren, and is a trappy place to ride through, on aooount of 
half-concealed open water cuts. It lies in another fold of the 
hills, a mile west of the Guards, and is even more isolated. 
But parta of the covert are damp lying, and it is not> so certain 
a find as its neighbour. It was the starting place of the fine 
hunt of Jan 9, 1904, to which I lately referred. Before 
leaving the Prudhoe coverts I may mention that for many 
years they were the property of Mr. John. Liddell, whose eldest 
son, Capt. John Aidan Liddell, won the Victoria Cross, and 
unfortunately succumbed to his injuries after having per- 
formed one of the most brilliant and dangerous feats of the 
great war. The Liddell family were good fox preservers at 
Prudhoe, but now the estat^e — or some part of it — has been 
bought by the county council, and Prudhoei Hall has been, or 
is being, turned into an institution of sorts. 

The Haydon Country. 

The Haydon Hunt, which joins the Braes of Derwent 
country on the nortii-westi, is more than one hundred years 
old, for it wag in eixistenoe as long agO' as 1809. It was in 
those days a, trencher-fed harrier pack, and I have not been 
able toi fix the date when the hunt whipped off from hare 
to fox. I havei, howeiver, mentioned that I had seen 
a. scarlet coat, with a. Gothic arched stiand-up collar 
which had belonged to a member of the Lee family of 
Land Ends, near Haydon Bridge, and which it is thought was 
made between 1830 and 1840. The scarlet colour suggests 
that fox Avas then hunted by the Haydon, but on the buttons 
were the letters H.H. and a running hare, and thia makes one 
incline to thei opinion that eighty years ago some of thet 
members of the Haydon went hare hunting in scarlet^. I may 
here mention that hare hunting in scarlet has oooasdonally 
been the fashion in certain countries, more particularly per- 
haps where there were no foxhounds in the same neighbour- 
hood. Even now scarlet is ocoasdonally worn by the officials 
of harrier paoksi, and, for example, the Master of the Thanet 
and Heme "wears a, red coat," while the huntsman and 
whippers-in of the Vale of Lune are always clothed in scarlet. 
A little later than the days of the coat referred to Mr. 
Nicholas INIaughan was hunting a pack of foxhounds in the 
Slaley district, but whether the foxhound pack was a distinct 
establishment and the Haydon pack was still hunting a little 
fiirther west. I do not know, nor have the many inquiries 
I have made thrown any tirustworthy lighti on the subject. 
Mr. Maughan's first pack, which, I believe, hunted entirely 


on tlie EiO'Utli side of the Tyne were called tJie Slaley, but 
whether this was merely a. local appellation. I do noti know. 
Whati ia certain is that the pack in question was a forerunneo: 
of the Tynedale, for in 1845 Mr. Maughan took in what ia 
now the Tyiieidale country and held office for nine years, giving 
way to^ Major Bell in 1854. When this happened Mr. Lam- 
berti, of Elrington, became Master of the Haydon, and this 
bears out the idea that, although Mr. Maughan's earliest 
pack waa called the Slaley, it was in reality the Haydon. 
Mr. Lambert waa succeeded by a committee in 1850, Mr. 
George Lee, of Threepwood, being one of its leading members, 
land this state of affairs existed for many years; but in 1875 
Major Blackett Ord, of Whitfield, was made Maister, and held 
office for five seasons of capital sport. It was during this 
mastership that I came in for a capital hunti with the Haydon, 
and the curious part of it was that I was on a, business ex- 
pedition, and had no idea of hunting when I left home. As 
a matter of fact, I had an appointanent at Hexham with the 
late Mr. Joseph Lee, of Land Ends, and as Hexham waa 
thirty miles- — with a. wait at a junction — from Shotley Bridge 
by rail, and just half the distance by road, I decided to ride. 
I had looked at the Haydon mest.s, knowing it. was one of their 
hunting days, but the place of meeting, given in the local 
paper, waa not within my knowledge, and I ima.gined it must 
be on the far side of the country. As a matter of facti it was 
a farmhouse close to Slaley, and a mile beyond the village 
just named I came upon hounds running a fox, and joined 
them. They had come out of Dipton Wood, and there was 
a rare scent, which took them to Dukesfield, thence over some 
rough country to Riddlehamhope, and bade right-handed to 
West Dipton. They then went on up the Tyne Valley, a mile 
or two south of the river, and killed there, at no great distance 
from Haydon Bridge. 

This was a long and fine hunt, but it was thought that there 
had been at least one change of foxes. I need hardly say that 
I failed to keep my appointment, and I had a ride home of 
something like twenty miles. Major Blackett Ord was fol- 
lowed in the mastership of the Haydon by a younger Mr. 
Nicholas Manghan, a son of the first. Master of the Tynedale, 
and Vv'ho was a horsey rather than a hound man. During the 


three seasons of Mr. Maughaoi's mastership th.e Master aad 
men were splendidly mounted, but I never heard much of 
th.e sport, and as th.€i hounds were sold in a single lot for £15 
when Mr. Maughan resigned I imagine iti was not very grand. 
One thing which happened, however, I shall never forget. 
The Tynedale were advertised to meet at. Dilston, and the 
Haydon at Traveller's Resti. The two places are several miles 
apart, but. a great deal of tihe country betiween them is filled 
up with an enormous tract of woodland, called East Dipton. 
It should b© explained that, strictly speaking, this is Tynedale 
country, being a part of the districti hunted by the Slaley 
pack of the elder Mr. Maughan when that gentleman took over 
the Tynedale country. But at times therei had been a. little 
friction, and Mr. Maughan was undei' th.e impression he had 
a right to the country. I may say here that an arrangement 
has long since been concluded by which the Haydon have the 
country all through the besti parti of the season, while the 
Tynedale go there in tlie early autumn and late spring. But 
nearly forty years ago no understanding had been arriveid 
at, and the country was claimed by both packs. On the day I 
have in mind the Haydon met half an hour or possibly a, whole 
hour earlier than the Tynedale, and I had gone withi a. friend 
to meet th.e latter pack, who proceeded to draw East Dipton 
from the Dilsiton end of the covert. The Haydon, it appeared, 
had been puti into the same huge covert at th.e end, and 
after a while the two packs met, no fox ha.ving been fonnd. 
The Master of the Tynedale was not present, but as it hap- 
pened the tv/Oi " fields " suddenly met in an open space, and 
then for ten minutes there was a terrible row. The Haydon 
IMjaater was most anxious to fight someone, and for a time 
it really looked as if he would be accommodated. But a deus 
ex machina appeared in the person of the mosti popular man 
in th.e distan-ct., and he succeeded in calming the passions which 
had been roused, and bot.h packs went on drawing until the 
road was reached at Linnolds Bridge, when th.e two' packs 
were " drawn " and each hunt proceeded on its way. The 
chief actors in this scene have all joined the great majority, 
but I have thought it best to mention no names, and doubtless 
many of the hunting people of Tyneiside will remember the 
incident. Poor Maughan, who died when quite a young man. 


was, I remembeir, beautifvilly mounted tbab day, and not long 
afterwards his horses were disposed of at auction, when one 
brought £500, and all the others good prices. He had a 
capital eye for a^ horsei, and if I recollect rightly he sent two 
or three lots of horses to be sold in London, when big prices 
were always realised. When Mr. Maughan gave up in 1884 
another committee took hold, and for a couple of seasons the 
hounds were know as the " Roman Wall." Then Mr. 
Edward Joicey, of Blenkinsopp Castle and Newbiggen House, 
the lasti-named placie being situated at the head of the Derwent 
Valley, a mile and a half west of Blanchland, took the hounds, 
at first in partnership with Mr. Loftus Dixon Brown, and 
afterwards single-handed, Mr. Joicey held office from 1886 
to 1895, and soon got a smart pack together, with which he 
showed capital sport. Indeed, the hunt was notable for sanart.- 
ness at this period of itiS existicnce ; but unf ort.unatiely for the 
country, Mr. Joicey resigned, and his resignation was followed 
by a partial collapse. The farmers, howeiver, came toi the 
rescue, and a short pack was got together again, which was 
called the Hexhamshire and Haydon, and of which a. man 
named William Archer was huntsman. This Archer was a 
really fine natural huntsman, whose opportnnities had been 
limited, and who, nevertheless, continued toi show capital 
sport at times. He was at his best on the " fells " (as the 
moors are locally called), and was a bold, determined rider, 
in thorough sympathy with his hounds. He was popular with 
the farmers, too. But substantial support was lacking, and in 
1889 there was another change, the late Major Harvey Scott 
taking the mastership, and holding it until 1902, though 
during a part of the time the Master was absent at the Boer 
War, when his brother, Mr. J. O. Scott, acted in his place. 
In 1902 Mr. C. T. Maling succeeded Major Harvey Scott, and 
some years ago was joined by Mr. A. M. Allgood, and under 
the joint mastership the Haydon was a flourishing hunt, 
with a first-rate pack of hounds. Mr. Maling introduced fresh 
blood into the kennel, and took the greatesti pains with his 
hound breeding, and in Mr. Allgood he found a partner who 
was equally enthusiastic, and who was, moreover, after a long 
experience with harriers, a first-rate amateur huntsman. Capt. 
Keith is now Master of the; Haydon. 


The three countries of which I have written, viz., the North 
Durham, the Braes of Derwent, and the Haydon, are, as 
regards the land over which hounds hunt, about as unlike the 
average Midland hunt as it is possible to be, and the great 
difference is caused by the fact that each hunt is located in a 
hilly district, in which the flat plain is conspicuous by its 
absence. There are plains and plains, and those who are 
acquainted with Salisbury Plain, for example, are well aware 
that the so-called plain is undulating everywhere, with a 
variation in places of many hundred feet in height. But in 
the particular part of the north of England in which these 
hunts are located it is difl&cult to find a flat field, let alone 
a flat district, and in place of the undulations of the Mid- 
lands there are real hills, which do not in the least interfere 
with the hunting. Chiefly because they cross the country — 
most frequently from east to west — in ranges, and slope very 
gradually towards the top of each range. The really abrupt 
places are few and far between, and, curiously enough, such 
places are abrupt on one side only. Thus the village of Corn- 
say, a favourite meet of the North Durham, is about 1, 000ft. 
above sea level, and while it is reached by quite a gentle ascent 
from the Durham side, the rise from the Browney Valley, on 
the west, is exceedingly steep. Grey Mare Hill, in the Braes 
of Derwent country, is just the same, abrupt on the north for 
fiearly half a mile, and so gradual on the south side that car- 
riage horses — when such things were used — would trot to the 
top as a matter of course. Such flat, or perhaps less hilly, 
land as there is in these hunts is to be found in the Wear 
Valley part of the North Durham; but there is no flat land 
in the Braes of Derwent country, and as far as my memory 
goes next to none in the Haydon Hunt. Then, too, each 
of the three hunts joins the moors, and whereas all of the 
Haydon country is wild and thinly populated, this description 
also applies to the better half of the North Durham, and to 
the western and larger part of the Braes of Derwent. T have 
made some mention of these physical characteristics of the 
countries before, but have referred to the subject again because 
a correspondent has written to ask if "it is not true that 
nearly all the hunting with the North Durham and Braes 
of Derwent is on the grouse moors? " In reply to this, I can 


only repeat what I have said before, viz., that though the 
grouse moors form the western border of all three hunts, 
hounds seldom go there, and if by any chance a fox does " take 
to the fells," he, as a rule, quickly leaves the heather again 
if scent is really good. Personally, I have hunted whole 
seasons with the two packs. North Durham and Braes of 
Derwent, and have never been on the moors with the first 
named, and perhaps twice in the full season with the other 
pack, which, by the way, has more " moor-edge " country 
than its neighbour. The Hay don country I do not know 
enough about in this particular to be decided, but perhaps 
my correspondent — who writes from " somewhere in France " 
— will be interested to learn that for over a hundred and 
fifty miles many of the packs which hunt on the eastern side 
of England have moors for their western boundary. This 
applies to the North Northumberland, Coquetdale, Percy, 
Morpeth, Tynedale, The Zetland, Bedale, Bramham Moor, 
Badsworth, and Barlow, as well as the hounds in co. Durham, 
while, in addition, such packs as the Cleveland, Sinnington, 
and the ' ' Dei'wenti ' ' in Yorkshire are in exactly the seone case. 
The Hui'woirth, too, reach the moors at times, for in North 
Yorkshire there are two' lines of moorland, one near the sea, 
and the other on the western side of the country ; buti what I 
have written as to hounds seldom going to the moors in the 
county of Durham probably holds good in a great, degree with 
regard to all the other packs I have mentioned, and I have long 
ago come to the conclusion that in an ordinary way foxes find 
they cannot travel soi well through the heather as they can on 
the grass land which almost invariably joins it. I remember 
O'nce going to the Bramham ]\Ioor at Beckwithshaw, when they 
quickly ran on to moors, and throughout a longish day they 
were seldom ofE the heather, and this was probably due to 
the fact that a few miles of heather separate the valleys of 
the Wharfe and Nidd, and the foxes hunted were probably 
in the habit of travelling across the heather country between. 

In the South Durham hunt there is no moorland whatever, 
the country over which Lord Boyne hunts being separated 
from the moors by the northern portion of the Zetland hunt; 
but there are certain hunts in the north of England whose 
countries are almost entirely moorland, and perhaps the best 


kDown and most successful of these is the Border, of which 
Mr. Jacob Robson has been for many years Master or joint 
Master. Mr. Robson describes his country as " chiefly moor- 
land," and though he has some nice vale country in the 
neighbourhood of Bellingham, a majority of his big hunts — 
of which he has many in the course of every season — take 
place on the moors. Possibly my soldier correspondent has 
been confusing the Border with the Braes of Derwent. An- 
other moorland country is the North Tyne, immediately south 
of the Border. There are also in Yorkshire the Goathland, 
Farndale, Stainton Dale, and Bilsdale, which are not entirely 
but to a great extent moorland packs, while many of the 
Welsh packs have a great deal of moorland country, as have 
some of the Devon packs. Indeed, I have spent one or two 
whole days on the heather with the Exmoor, which, I need 
hardly say, have their country inside that of the Devon and 
Somerset Staghound country. 

The occasional moorland hunting I have seen in the north 
of England has seldom been satisfactory from a rider's point 
of view, chiefly because of the soft places which are to be 
found on all moors in winter time, and also because the various 
inclosures are in these days — wherever I have been — separated 
by wire. The actual bog occurs at times, but it is boggy land 
rather than a distinct bog which pulls one up, and which 
at times will carry a man, but not a horse with a rider on 
his back. To get off and lead, or to turn away and look for 
sounder ground, is the only thing to be done, and a proces- 
sion of ladies leading their horses through a few acres of very 
soft going has its comic side. At times, however, especially 
when the heather has been recently burnt, the going is found 
to be both firm and good ; but, if possible, cart tracks should 
be used, and until one rides over moors it is difficult to realise 
what a considerable number of these cart tracks there are. 
Sheep tracks generally show where the ground is sound, but 
it is hopeless work following hounds that are running hard 
on a sheep track, for the sheep track will twist about and make 
a quarter of a mile into double the distance. A fox which 
goes straight on to the moors is probably a moorland fox who 
knows his way, and, generally speaking, both Mr. Priestraan 
and Mr. Rogerson will have hounds stopped (if possible) from 


following a fresh fox which points at once for the moors. On 
the other hand, it is occasionally the case that a fox found 
in one of the valleys below the moors will make an excursion 
on to the heather after he has been well hunted; but when 
this happens h© usually just skirts the heather for a mile or 
two and quickly leaves it again. My experience also is that 
in the north scent lies well on the heather if the fox is not 
far in front, but not for so long as on grass if he has been 
gone some time. I have noticed hounds run a fox hard 
on grass land for twenty minutes or so, and then slow down on 
reaching the heather more than once, and I have also seen 
houndsi just able to pick a line across a corneir of moor, and 
on reaching the grass beyond go away with a scream. I 
have also seen many well-hunted foxes lost after they reached 
the moor, and once or twice, on really good scenting days, 
I have seen hounds go almost as fast over the heather as they 
had been doing on the grass; but over a long period of yeavi 
I can recall very few — certainly not more than three or four 
— foxes actually pulled down in the heather after they had 
been well hunted. In recent years — before the war, of course 
— if the Braes of Derwent hounds ran a Sneep fox on to the 
moors it became customary for a big majority of the field to 
remain on the nearest road and wait for the pack being 
brought back, and I am strongly of opinion that in a country 
where the moors are merely a boundary of the hunt, and not 
included in the country to be drawn, this is much the best 
plan to adopt. Riding over the moors is not popular with 
the crowd, and where there is plenty of country elsewhere 
it is waste of time to hunt there, unless, indeed, a really well- 
run fox takes hounds on to moorland after a big spell of 
inland hunting, and this, as I have explained, is a not very 
common occurrence. 

The Tynedale Country. 

I have mentioned that the Tynedale country has a border 
of moorland, but this is very small, and, I imagine, seldom 
reached. The particular part of the country which joins the 
moors is the north-western corner of the hunt — where it 
marches with the Border country — and where at odd times 
hounds go on to the heather after having met at siich places 
as Kirkharle or Kirkwhelpington. I have indeed a recollec- 
tion of the pack running a fox to Simonside, near llothbury, 
many years ago, and not being recovered until the following 
day; but that was many years ago, and I cannot find the news- 
paper cutting in which the run was described. And before I 
attempt some account of the Tynedale I must put it on record 
that, though only a three days a week pack, the Tynedale 
is one of the great hunts of the kingdom. It is, indeed, 
great in every way. To begin with, it possesses a magnificent 
country from almost every point of view. It has now, and 
has had for many years past, one of the finest packs of hounds 
in the world, and it has always enjoyed mastership of the most 
competent description. Its style of hunting is a model to 
other countries, and it has the loyal support of a large and 
enthusiastic countryside, the result being that at normal times 
fields are always large — probably on the whole larger than any 
to be found farther north than the York and Ainsty country. 
Thursdays with the Zetland used to attract very large fields 
— perhaps (before the war) not quite so large since the pack 
beceune a subscription one — and Friday meets on the York 
side of the Bramham Moor country were always very largely 
attended ; but I am inclined to think that the Tynedale 


Mondays and Fridays were quite as big, even in the worst of 
weather, and some seasons ago when hounds were drawing 
at. two o'clock in the aitemoon I countied sixty ladies 
(including little girls) and thirty-seven scarlet coats. Once, 
by the way, and I think about fifteen yeara ago, I 
counted seventy scarlets with the Zetland. This was while 
the first covert was being drawn after a Halnaby meet, but 
I remember making a mental note at the time to the effect 
that, though ladies were numerous, they were not in such 
numbers as were to be seen with the Tynedale about the same 
period of time. It has frequently been said that if the Tyne- 
dale country were situated 100 instead of nearly 300 miles 
from town it would draw the crowd as do the best of the Shire 
packs; but its remoteness is its safeguard, and most cer- 
tainly its " fields " are quite large enough, though, thanks 
to the fact that Mr. Straker is a disciplinarian, there is very 
little over-riding of hounds. And without doubt the Tyne- 
dale hunt has a reputation which extends all through the 
hunting world. It is, in point of fact, generally known that 
the country is one of the best in the kingdom, that 
the blood of the kennel is most valuable, and that 
the sport shown reaches a very high standard indeed. 
A projJos I may meution that nearly twenty years ago, when I 
was hunting with the Tynedale a good deal, and sending 
accounts of their doings to the Field, an ex-Master of one 
of the Shire packs — whom I met one day in London — put me 
through a regiilar cross-examination as to the Tynedale 
country and so forth, and seemed (I thought) inclined to 
think that I had over-egged the pudding in my description 
of the hunting, and more especially of the country. Once or 
twice afterwards this same gentleman renewed the subject, 
but I had almost forgotten the matter until a Reigate show of 
a few years ago, when my friend told me that, though he 
had not seen the Tynedale in the field, he had shortly before 
motored all through the country when on his way to Scot- 
land, and had been greatly impressed. He told me that he 
had had no time to spare for a look at the hounds in kennel, 
but that he had crossed the country slowly from B5nv6ll 
Bridge to Belsay, and then travelled up the North Road, 
along the Tynedale-Morpeth boundary, and he had come to 


the conclusion that there was no finer hunting country either 
in England or Ireland. 

Before going into details of the country I must, however, 
refer to something I have already written. I referred to 
an extract in Baihf s Thmtinrf Birectory which men- 
tioned i\Ir. Robertson, of Lees, a.nd the Northumbeirland 
and North Durham Hounds, the inference being that this 
pack were the predecessors of the Tynedale. I explained 
that I was unable to understand the reference, and gave my 
opinion to that effect. Since then I have had a letter from 
a hunting man of high standing who resides in the Tynedale 
country, and who writes me: "I never examined Baily^& 
account of Tynedale before, and agree with you that it is 
a mistake or a blunder. I don't think Mr. Robertson, of 
Lees, ever hunted the present Tynedale country." My 
correspondent has looked up the Local Records — a well- 
known Northumberland classic — and has sent me one or two 
extracts which entirely go to prove that Mr. Robertson 
hunted in North Northumberland only, and that what is now 
the Tynedale country was hunted or managed by a com- 
mittee for a short time, after which Mr. Nicholas Maughan 
became the first Master. 

The extracts are as follow : — 

" March, 1837. — During this month an arrangement waa 
made by which Sir Matthew White Ridley, Bart., relin- 
quished the hunting of South Northumberland and entrusted 
the future management of his hounds to a committee consist- 
ing of Sir Edward Blackett, Edward Riddell, and M. Clayton, 

" April, 1838. — During the spring of this year R. J. 
Lambton, Esq., gave up the maintenance of his celebrated 
pack of foxhounds, which was sold for £3,000. A meeting 
of the gentlemen of the county of Durham v/as held about the 
latter end of the month at Durham, when measures were 
taken for raising funds for continuing the hunt and for 
obtaining such a pack of hounds as would not discredit their 

" May, 1839.— During this month Mr. Robertson, of Lees, 
purchased for 1,000 guineas the hounds which Lord Suffield 
had bought of Mr. R. Lambton. The pack was afterwards 


called the Northumberland and North Durham Hounds, and 
it began the season on Wednesday, Oct. 30, with a famous 
run from Etal to Paxton, in Berwickshire. 

" 1843, Feb. 10. — A dinner was given in the Assembly 
Kooms, Newcastle, to Sir M. W. Ridley, Bart., by the mem- 
bers of the Northumberland Hunt as a mark of their estima- 
tion of his conduct as Master of the hounds. 

" 1843, July 15. — About this time the Northumberland 
and North Durham Foxhounds (formerly part of the Lambton 
pack), which had hunted the northern portion of Northum- 
berland for some years, were sold to Lord Elcho by their 
owner, D. Robertson, Esq., who relinquished the mastership. 

" 1844, May 27.— Wm. Russell, Esq., of Brancepeth, 
having relinquished the keeping of foxhounds, a meeting of 
noblemen and gentlemen was held in Durham, at which 
Viscount Seaham, Mr. Russellj and Colonel Tower were 
appointed a committee of management, and it was deter- 
mined to found a new establishment, to be called the Durham 
County Foxhounds. 

" 1845, May 19.— Sir M. W. Ridley, Bart., having inti- 
mated his intention of giving up his hunting establishment, 
a meeting of sportsmen was held in Newcastle, when it was 
determined to keep up the hunt by subscription. 

" July 30. — Sir M. W. Ridley's hounds were sold by auc- 
tion in London for £773." 

From the above one gathers that the committee mentioned 
in the first extract held oiSce from 1837 until Mr. Maughan 
was appointed Master in 1845, and I am inclined to think 
that during the period referred to the country was still known 
as Sir Matthew White Ridley's. It is plain, too (I think), 
that the committee for a time looked after all the country 
which is now included in the Tynedale and Morpeth hunts, 
and it is probable that in 1839 Mr. Robertson began to hunt 
Northern Northumberland only, and not the southern portion 
of the county. Also it is the case that in 1844 Mr. Watson, 
of North Seaton, and Mr. Vaughan were joint Masters of a 
pack which hunted the western portion of what has since been 
known as the Morpeth country, while Lord Elcho took over 
the north side of Mr. Robertson's hunt. This arrangement 
was made one year before ])>Ir. Maughan became Master of 


the Tynedale, and it shows the division of Sir M. W. Ridley's 
original country into two smaller ones — an arrangement which 
was probably called for by the fact that hunting men generally 
were then crying out for a greater number of days in each 
area of the hunt. Sir M. W. Ridley's original country must 
have been very large, including the Tynedale (north of the 
Tyne), the Morpeth, and probably parts of the Percy, and 
possibly of the Coquetdale, and it is plain enough that few 
parts of this huge district could have received all the atten- 
tion they required. I notice, by the way, that the reference 
to Mr. Robertson, of Lees, and the Northumberland and 
North Durham hunt has been eliriiinated frcaii thei later editions 
of Baity, and I have no doubt Mr. Straker will agree that the 
pack just mentioned never came near the Tynedale country. 
I may add that in a former letter from the same valued corre- 
spondent I have been quoting that gentleman pointed out 
that parts of County Durham were not many years ago located 
on Tweedside, and it may be that on this account a pack 
which hunted the northern part of the former county were 
known as the Northumberland and North Durham. 

Fro'm time to' time maps of th.o hunting countiries of 
England have been published, and on© of these was brought 
out in the early 'fifties, which showed the Tynedale country 
as extending over all the weistiern portion of the Braes of Der- 
went hunt, and all the eastern part of the Haydon country. 
I am writing away from home, and therefore perhaps readers 
will excuse further reference to what I have written before. 
I, however, found a, more recent map called " A Hunt 
Map of England and Wales," and this wasi publish^ed in 1880. 
It gives the Tynedale noi country whatever south, of the Tyne, 
and it extends the Braes of Derwent country toi tie line of the 
Devils Water, and thence tO' the head of the Derwent River 
near Riddlehamhope. As a matter of fact. both, maps are 
wrong aa regards the Tynedale, for though that pack, as 
far as I kno'W, never drew covert/s in the western part of th^e 
Derwent Valley, they, as successorsi to the Slaley, most cer- 
tainly included in their country a great, deal of what is now 
Braes of Derwent country, and also' a big slice of the Haydon 
country. There are, however, working agreiements between 
the Tynedale and its neighbours, by virtue of which the Bra,e3 


of Derwent have all th« oountiy east' of tlie Healey Burn, and 
tJae Haydon all the south side of the Tyne west of the Healey 
Burn during five-sixths of the season. Thei T^nedale sdnoe 
Mr. Priestman became Master of the Braes of Derwent have 
never drawn east of Healey; bub they oome to' Newbiggen, 
Dipton, and other places in Haydon domains in the late 
spring, and I have seen them draw from Westi Dipton to with- 
in a. mile or two- of Haydon Bridge some few years 
ago. And a projyos the Tynedale and Haydon connection, I 
have received the following interesting letter from Mr. John 
Robson, of Newton, Bellingha.m : 

" Newton, Bellingham, Dec. 7, 1915. 

" Dear Shotley, — I have been very much interested in 
your accounts of the Tynedale and Braes of Derwent hunts, 
especially the former. 

" My father, who was an old man when he died over thirty 
years ago, said that a Hexham solicitor called Stokoe kept 
hounds at Slaley which were the origin of the Tynedale. 

" I see in Saturday's Field yon say that Mr. John (no 
doubt this should be Nicholas, not John) Maughan did so. 
Probably he followed Mr. Stokoe. This will account for the 
Tynedale claiming that parti of their countiry south of the 

" Of course, they also own that portion called by Surtees 
* Allgood's Corduroys,' but that can be accounted for by Mr. 
Hunter Allgood's having the honnds, and their kennels being 
at Nunwick. Do you remember the Braes of Derwent hunting 
Hesleyside, or was it before your day? I succeeded them, and 
they left the finest stock of old foxes I ever saw. 

" The ' Old Squire,' as he was called at Bellingham, was 
the besiti pres^Jrver imaginable, and the Border was not a big 
pack. I have seen aa many foxes as hounds in the Hesleyside 
coverts, so much so that. I have hunted them three days in 
succession, and found plenty on the third day. — I am, yours 
truly, John Robson." 

The above letter goes a long way towards proving what I 
have before suggested, viz., that when Mr. Maughan was 
hunting the present Haydon country there was no other fox- 


hound pack in the coointry, the hounds of which Mr. Lambert, 
of Elringtoii, was Master between 1845 and 1850 being 
harriers. This opinion was held by the late Mr. Joseph Lee, 
of Land Ends, who was emphatic on the point that, though 
a, fox was occasionally hunted, the original Hay don hunt wa^ 
a harrier pack until Mr. Maughan came on the scene, and 
whipped off hare to run fox. At this date one would think 
this land similar questions to be of no' great moment, but, as 
a matter of fact., I find there are many old, and some quite 
young, sportsmen who' like to know exact particulars of the 
hunting arrangements of a bygone generation. And a 'pro'pos 
the Braes of Derwent hunting the Hesleyside country (now in 
the Border Hunt), I may say — as is said in another place — 
the answer is in the affirmative. Indeed, I am sorry that I 
O'mittied whati was a somewhat important proceeding, but I 
had iti in mind to ask Mr. John C'owen if he could give me 
some particulars as to his father's (Colonel Cowen's) visits to 
the Border country, and I have forgotten to do so. Neith-er 
have I any references which I can consult on the matter; but 
writing from memory I think Colonel Cowen used toi take his 
pack to' the neighbourhood of Bellingham, for a week or more 
at a time, during several seasons, and perhaps three or four 
times in each season. I also think the period would be in the 
late 'seventies and early 'eighties, or perhaps even a little later. 
Anyhow, I went there twice and saw Colonel Cowen' s pack at 
work in the moorland country. One meeti I went toi was at 
Caimglasaenhope Plantation, and it snowed and rained all 
day. I had stayed ati Bellingham overnight, and my chief 
recollection of the day is that a high wind spoilt the sport, 
but that hounds were busy all day. The other day I had in 
that country involved a. start by a very early train from New- 
castle. I was with the late Mr. J. T. Ramsey, whoi had 
arranged for a couple of horses to meet us at Bellingham 
station; they were not there when we arrived, and, tO' cut a 
long story short, we had a long hunt for the horses, a long 
ride before we found hounds, and we, personally, saw uo^ sport, 
though hounds had been running for hours when we did find 
them. I imagine the meets were fixed for an early hour, and, 
anyhow, it was not a good plan tO' travel from Newcastle to 
Bellingham on a hunting morning, though I rather fancy 


Mr. Ramsey used to do it frequently, and I know tliat he was 
in tlie habit of following the Border on foot when he was 
nearer eiighty than seventy years of age. I also a much 
earlier recolleotion of Bellingham than that, for I was at the 
agriciiltural show held there in September, 1873, and rode in 
the huntier jumping class, and from that day to- this I have 
never seen a better trial ground. The class was for hunters 
of any age, and, I think, no condition as to weight; but after 
the horses had been inspected by the judges they were sent 
over a, short, perfecitly natural course of half a dozen fences, 
and tiheir fencing was taken into consideration before the 
prizes were awarded. My mount was a, very good hunter, 
owned by the late Mr. Percy Taylor — a son of the late Mr. 
Hugh Taylor, of Chipohase Castle — who at that time was 
living at the Bay Horse Inn at Stamfordham, and possessed 
as fine a lot of hunters as were then to be found in the north 
of England. 

Indeed, these horses were sold at auction for very high prices 
a year or two later, and one of them — a horse named Simoai, 
which ]Mr. Taylor had boughti from the Spraggons of Nafferton 
— ^was bought by the late Sir William Eden for 300gs., and 
some years afterwards Sir William, when of the South 
Durham, told me Simon was the best hunter he had ever 
owned. I do- not remember that Simon was at the Bellingham 
show in question, but Mr. Taylor had at least three in the 
entry, and entertained a party ati the Bellingham Hotel, of 
which the late James Hedley, the coursing judge, was land- 
lord. During the evening which preceded the show there was 
a good deal of jubilation, the proceedings culminating in a bet 
being made by James Hedley that he would ride a horse he 
had in his stable over the gat© between the stable yard and 
a stack yard behind his premises then and there. The horse 
was duly brought, outi, lighted lanterns were stuspended at 
either end of the gate, and Mr. Hedley mountied, and the 
horse popped over as easily as if he was jumping a sheep 
hurdle. But. in dismounting the rider, who was a big, burly 
man, slipped up as he touched the ourbstonei, with t.he result 
that he sprained his ankle so badly that he had to atte^nd the 
show on the following day in a pony cart, and came in for a 


great deal of chaff. In tJie hunter competition the first feme© 
out of the show field was a high thorn fence, th.e weaker parts 
of which had been strengthened with timber, and immediately 
beyond was a cart track some 14ft. or more wide. This cart 
track had been newly covered with ashes or soft coal and waa 
very black, and my horse, a most impetuous goer, flew iti in 
each of the two rounds he did, and this probably prevented 
him from taking the prize. Other fences were a bank and a 
Stone wall, and there was one artificial jump in front, of the 
sit.ands. My horse never touched a twig, but the judges pre- 
ferred an up-and-down cantering cob, who popped over each 
obstacle with not an inch to' spare, and who jumped on to the 
black road instead of over it. But the point I wish toi em- 
phasise is that in this class for hunters;, in which all the horses 
had to jump, real hunters were shown, and not the animals 
which at day went the round of th.e shows for the jumping 
prizes aJone. The same sort of thing has been done in South 
Wales and O'Ue or two other places, and in recent Olympia 
shows there have been classes in which hunters had to' jump ; 
but as a ride all hunters' prizes at all the principal shows are 
given for horses which have not to jump when shown, and 
whose jumping ability has, in fact, to be taken on trust. Th.e 
subject is too big to be tackled just now, and would hardly 
be in place in this volume; but it is perhaps worth pointing 
outi that at local country shows the Bellingham plan of forty- 
nine years ago might well be adopted. 

Mr. Nicholas Maughan gave up the Tynedale country in 
1854, and was succeeded by Major Robert Bell, who held 
ofiice until 1867. Then came Mr. Hunter Allgood, of Nun- 
wick, for a couple of seasons, and he was followed for two 
siea«)ng by the joint mastership of Mr. George Fenwick and 
Mr. Edward Riddell. In 1871 Mr. Fenwick went on single- 
handed, and remained in ofiice until 1883, when the present 
Master, Mr. J. C. Straker, sxicceeded him. This is the histo'ry 
of the hunt, as regards its Masters, of the last, sixty years, 
and from what I have seen and from v;hat I have heard, I am 
inclined to think that no hunt in the country has carried on 
its operations in a smoother or more satisfactory manner, or 
maintained a higher average of sport. During all this period 


the kennels have been at Stagshaw Bank, except when hounds 
were at Nunwick from 1867 to 1869. Of this I have some 
sorti of recollection, but I am not. oeirtain on the point. I do 
remember, however, that Mr. Hunter Allgood had a very big 
establishment, both of horses and houndg, and that, in fact, 
he did the thing remarkably well. In my childhood I used 
to hear a. good deal about, the Tynedale doings, and my earliest 
reoolleotion of the pack is that I fell off the back seat of a 
dogcart on the way toi a Tynedale meet, but was not hurt. As 
a boy on a pony I saw the pack occasionally, more particularly 
whem the Durham County were hunting in their Sedgefield 
country, and the Tynedale were within riding distance of 
Shotley Bridge, and on one of these occasions I had one of 
the great hunts of my life. It must, be understood that I was 
well mounted, having a nearly thoroughbred pony of 14 
hands, good enough to go anywhere. Wherei hounds met I do 
not. remember, but they found at. Ingoe, and had a. hunt which, 
according to- my recollection, lasted all day, and killed at 
Meldon Dyke Nook in the Morpeth country. An account of 
this hunt was referred to> in the Field of Jan. 21, 1905, when 
old runs were being discussed, and I aft.erwards had a let.ter 
from the late Mr. Georgei Anthony Fenwick, stating that he 
remembered it well, and telling me of another very similar 
run of an earlier date, to which I will refer later. 

I was well over twenty-five miles from home, but I ha.d the 
company of the late Mr. Ben Spraggon as far as Nafferton, 
and I stopped at his house for tea,, and got. home between ten 
a.nd eleven o'clock, not. one whit. t.he worse for the many long 
hoiurs in the saddle. Nor was the pony sick or sorry after 
his long day, and he was certainly out with hounds again 
four or fivei days later. I may now give some general idea of 
the Tynedale country, and yet. I canuot. do this as t.horo.ughly 
as I should like, for the simple reason that thei greater part 
of my hunting in the country in question has been on the 
southern and eastern sides of the. hunt, a.nd that I have 
seldo.m been in the No.rt.h Tyne Valley with the pack, a.nd 
not very often on the north-western border of the hunt. The 
fact is that, the districts I have just referred to- are a. very 
distance from Shotley Bridge, where my quarters have nearly 
always been located, and even in these days of motor-ears 


there is still the difficulty about getting horsesi to' a, distant meet 
in a. country where there are noi trains, and practically no' inns 
with good acoommodation for nags. The Tynedale countiry 
lies west, of Newoastle-on-Tyne, and north of the river Tyne, 
which to' all intents and purposes form itis southern boundary. 
On the westi it extends up the North Tyne valley for many 
miles, and on the east the high road from Newcastle to Belsay 
separates it from the Morpeth country, while on the north the 
boundary varies a little, the Morpeth being on the noirth- 
east and tha Border on the north-west of Tynedale territory. 
West of Belsay the line between the Tynedale and Morpeth 
is a little irregular, but clear enough tO' those who' live and 
hunt in the country; but all this particular district' of either 
hunt is grand galloping ground and as sound as a bell; 
wherea? on the extreme north-west of the country, and at no 
great distance from the moors, soane of thei land is not. so* well 
drained, and is in places inclined to be boggy. Hounds hunt on 
Mondays in the west of the country, the meets ranging 
between the kennels and such places a,s Kirkharlei, Kirk- 
whelpington, and C'apheaton. Buti there are alsoi several 
meets in between, such as Whittington, Hallington, Bing- 
field, Bavington, and so forth. Mat fen and Matfen Piers are 
alsoi Monday meets, and to explain the situation all these 
fixtures are in the western half of the country, but on the 
plateau of high-lying grass land, while the Wednesday meets 
are for the Tyne Valley, and the Friday meets for the eastern 
section of the country, all the way from the Tyne to Belsay. 
The Wednesday meets, though nearly always in the Valley, 
are in two distinct districts, one set including fixtures in the 
lower Tyne Valley between Corbridge and Whittle Dene, and 
the other the fixtures in the North Tyne Valley, from St.. 
Oswalds to ChoUerford, Chipchase, Nunwick, Giinnerton, and 
as far as Countess Park, which is so far away as to be what 
Surtees would call " extra, parochial." Since the war hounds not been out. so regularly on Wednesdays as they 
formerly were. I have to thank several correspondents 
for sending me accounts of good hunts with the 
Tynedale in the long ago, and these I will mention in due 
course; but first I may say that I am not. presuming to 
pose as an historian of the Tynedale Hunt, for there have 


been many great hunts in the countory of which I have no 
knowledge. As my readers will understand, this book is 
for the most part a personal recoil ectioii, but I 
Ertioh a liking for the Tynedale, and ha,ve such pleasant re- 
collections of the sport I have seen within its boxindaries, that 
I feel constrained to give, to the best of my ability, some 
description of the country, if only for the benefit of those 
hunting people who have heard of, but do not. know, the 
lobality. And I also bear in mind that, so far as I know, very 
lititle has ever been written about the Tynedale hunt or it& 

It is a moot point whether the Monday or the Friday 
country of the Tynedale is the besti. Both are very good 
indeed, and if foxes go the right way I am inclined to think 
that the best riding lines are in the centre of the country, 
and rather on the eastern side of the centre, but as a matter 
of fact foxes from every part of the country often reach its 
centre, and at times it happens — not by any means infre- 
quently — that foxes found quite near the riverside will leave 
the valley and travel over the very best of lines. Where the 
eastern side of the country has a pull — purely from a riding 
point of view — ^is that the country is flatter and less undulating 
than it is in the north. Even so it is a high-lying plain or 
plateau, but as one goes west, the country becomes more un- 
dulating, is higher above sea level, and occasionally steep 
placies are to be found, as for example the north sidei of Grind- 
stone Law, and the rise from the valley beyond to Great Ryall 
and the Moot Law. Dealing with the Monday hunting first, 
Aydon Dene is generally drawn after hounds have met at 
Stagshaw House or the kennels and this dene, though it does 
not reach the river Tyne, dips down the country to within 
a mile of it, and is, to the best of my knowledge, the only low- 
lying cover in the Monday country. There is also a good 
covert at Aydon White House, but this is well up above the 
dene, and on the edge of the plateau. Coles or Cowls Whin, 
not far away, was a. famous covert when I first knew th© 
Tynedale, but the v/hin has now disappeared, for it was also 
a fir plantation, and the fir trees have grown up. There 
is also' a whin covert on Stagshaw Common, which is not 
a hundred yards distant from the kennels. This whin is 


not inclosed, and is what in Ireland wooild he< called a " wild 
gorse," but it is an extraordinarily good covert, and during 
a period of several seasons when I saw a good deal of the> Tyne- 
dale, I do not. remember that I ever siaw it drawn blank. 
Moreover, I remember one very good hunt from it, when 
hounds ran north toi Great Ryall, over the Moot Law, and 
to Fairshaw, the iox, if I recollect rightly, going 
toi groiund in the earth, which, being a long way out- 
side the draw arranged for the day, was unstopped. The 
point of this run must have been something like eight miles. 
Taking a line due north from the kennels means following the 
Watling Street, which hereabouts rung almost straight from 
south to noirth. or vice versa. Perhaps the greater part of the 
Monday country is east of this road, and notably the district 
which is near the kennels. There are good coverts round 
Sandhoe and Beaufront, for example, which seeim to belong 
toi the Wednesday countiry, buti there is a whin covert just' over 
the northern boundary of the common, and west of the Wat- 
ling Street, which is often drawn from a kennel meet, and 
the name of which I have for the moment forgotten. Butlers 
Whin on the military road, and a mile further north, is a 
rattling good covert, but my experience is that it is usually 
reserved for Wednesday meets at Beaufront or St. Oswalds. 
East, of the kennels and south of the military road— which 
extends from Newcastle-on-Tyne to Chollerford on the North 
Tyne and beyond — therei are good coverts at. Shildon Bog and 
Shildon Hill, the last-named indeed being one of the best 
oovertis in the hunt, and, I think, on the Matfen Estatio. The 
usual meet, for these coverts is Matfen Piers, a farmho>uss on 
the military road, four miles north-east of Corb ridge and two 
miles &out.h of thei village of INIatfen. These coverts maiy be 
drawn also from meets at Newton Village or Newton Hall, 
but one associates them chiefly v/ith the Matfen oovertiS. 
Shildon Bog is a considerable etxtent of swampy ground which 
lies west of Shildon Hill. There are dry places on it much 
favoured by foxes, and it is a prettiy draw, for nearly every 
fox which lea,ves when hounds draw it musti do so in full view 
of the field. Shildon Hill is a fir plantation with a gorse 
cover inside, and from it foxes go to all parts of the country. 
Another covert a mile or two west of Shildon Hill, and ako 


soutih. of the military road, is Carr Hill, and hereabouts is a 
wonderful artificial earth which was made by Mr. Barnett 
of Halton Ca&tle, the^ secretary of the hunt. Anyhow, thia 
earth has been most fiucceisisful during a long period of years, 
and from some whins near it' hounds ran a. seven-mile point 
to Horsley Whin on their opening day some twelve or four- 
teeai years agO' quite late in the afternoon. Thei coverts I 
ha,ve mentioned are the principal ones in the (strictly) Monday 
coomtry which lie to the south of the military road, but there 
are several sTnall places as well, which only take a few minutes 
to draw, and each of which at times afford a: hunti, notably a 
little plantation alongside the road at Matfen Piers. 

North of the military road, and some two or three miles 
from the kennels, is the village of Whittington, perhaps as 
popular a fixture as any in the hunt. It is an old stone- 
built hamlet, consisting of a couple of farmhouses and two 
or three dozen cottages, and is not on a main road. There 
are, however, several lanes which reach it from various points, 
and it is the chief road from the railway at Corbridge to such 
even smaller hamlets as Great Ryall and Ingoe. Whitting- 
ton is situated amidst a, sea. of grass, there being fairly flat 
country to the easti of the village, and undulating ground to 
the north and west.. And two of the very best gorsei — or whin 
as they are called locally — coverta in the hunt are near it. 
And here I may mention that these whin coverts are a great 
feature of the Tyndale country. There are many of them, 
mostly situatied in the open field, but carefully fenced and well 
looked after, with wicket gates tO' allow of ingress and egress 
to the huntsman. In many of them there is a notice board 
fixed on to a pole, the notice having " This covert is the 
property of the Tynedale Hunt Club," or words toi that effect. 
Some are rented by members of the hunt, and at times are 
called by the names of those who pay for them, this being an 
old fashion in the north, as is shown in " Plain or Ringlets " 
when Mr. Pringle is victimised at the hunt dinner of Sir 
Moses Mainchance's hounds by being made a member of the 
hunt and sponsor of a covert. But Kirsopp's Whin, one of 
the two fine gorses near Whittington, takes its name from ita 
owner, Mr. James Kirsopp of the Spital, near Hexham, a pro- 
minent member of the Tynedale hunt, who has been following 


the pack for something like forty years, and is still as keen 
a fox preserveiT aswhen he began. Kirsopp'si Whin is a beautiful 
ooverti and a certain find, and no matter which way hounds go 
they are certain of &port, unless indeed scent is altogether 
absent. The covert is on the east side of the Whittington to 
Ryall lane, and only a fieid from it, while the other good covert 
just referred to is half ai mile westi of thei same lanei, and is 
known as Grindstone Law. It is younger and perhaps a trifle 
larger than Kirsopp's Whin, and it is practically impossible to 
draw them both blank. It may be mentioned that before the 
Grindstone Law covert came into being there was a covert called 
Dun's Moor almost immediately east of it, and before that a 
whin named Todridge, which was situated rather less than 
a mile south of Grindstone Law. Both of these played a big 
part in providing sport for the Tynedale in their day, but 
Grindstone Law is as good as its predecessors, its only draw- 
back being that if foxes go from it due north there is a steep 
bit of up and down, and an awkward bottom to cross, and this 
comes into the line very frequently. About two' miles west' of 
Grindstone Law, and close to the Watling Street, is another 
gorse covert on the side of a hill, called Bewclay or Bewclay 
Craggs, and this is also a Monday covert. Going back to 
Whittington, right of the village, and rather to the south, 
is a small covert, on Clarewood Farm which generally holds a 
fox, and east of this place all the coverts round Matfen Hall 
(Sir Hugh Blackett's), which are numerous and good. The best 
as far as I can judge, are the Mile covert, a plantation midway 
between Matfen Village and Matfen Piers, and the Marl Pits, 
a mile east of Matfen, on the lane which leads toi Stamford- 
ham. Other coverts hereabouts are the Dog Kennel Wood, the 
Sparrow Letch Plantation, and Angus's Whin, which is north- 
east of Matfen, and less than a milei north of the military road. 
This is (or was) a certain find, and the starting point of many 
good hunts, as also' is the Marl Pits, from which good covert 
there was a fine hunt in January of 1913. This hunt came late 
in the day after a busy morning, but there was a great fox before 
hounds and first-ratei scent. They ran by Fenwick, Cowstand, 
and Black Heddon to Bygate, through the coverti and on to 
Belsay, and swinging round came intoi Bygate again. They 
left the covert very quickly, and ran fast to' Capheiaton^ 


tlirough the park, and on by Clock Mill almott to Kirkharle. 
Stiil going north they cros&ed tie Morpeth boundaiy, bat 
gradually turning right-handed came back into- the Tynedale 
country and put their fox to ground at Shaltoci Craggs. I 
made the point eight miles, and the full length of the run 
between seventeen and eighteen miles, while the tim.« was O'ue 
hour and three-quarters. The local paper had an account of 
the hunt which gave the full distance as twenty-three miles, 
but this was obviously wrong, it being impossible for a run 
of that distance to^ take less than so^mei period over twO' hours. 
Ten miles an hour is a, great pace for a hunt of any length, 
and in this particular hunt it will be seen the pace was even 
a little faster, and was maintained for an hour and three- 
quarters. And a propos this hunt I may mention that I came 
from Shotley with, the Master of the Braes of Derwent., and 
with US was a youngster who had just got a commission in the 
Special Reserve', and whoi had never been in the Tynedale 
country before. He got almost to the end of the hunt, which 
is perhaps not very wonderful, but the night was one of tiie 
blackest I can remember, and he found his way from some 
point between Capheaton and Kirkharle to the Stelling — 
where our motor-car had been left' — and had been there for 
half an hour when I arrived. It would be almost dark when 
he left Capheaton, and he had no one with him, and thosfl 
who know the countiry will understand how easily one can go 
wrong, in extreme darkness such as there was that night, 
between Capheaton and Ingoe. This youngstier was one of the 
only two oflicers of his regiment who survived the retreat^ from 
Mons, but he was killed in the spring of 1917. 

Without doubt the Matfen coverts are a great stand-by for 
the west, centre of the Tynedale country, and east of them is 
the Stamfordham district, which will be referred to when the 
Friday country is discussed. Going north from Whittiugton 
the next good covert is Fairspring, which lies to the west of 
the Moot Law, and beyond and quite close is the village of 
Hallington, where hounds often meet. The Moot Law is a 
grass farm of 1100 acres, with, according to' my recollection, 
not a tree on it, though there may be an odd stunted fir or 
two on the southern boundary. There is a cart, road across 
the farm to Kirkheaton, but it is a wild and bleak spot, rising 


to a height of about 1000ft. in its highest part, and has no 
regular covert on it, though there i& ai good deal of scattiered 
gorse. Still, hounds frequently cross it, and when this hap- 
pens the field are hard put. to- it, for the wall&— it is entirely 
fenced with loose, stone walls — are 5ft. high in places, and 
have a sheep rail or wire stretched along the top, some Sin. 
above the stones, and placed there tO' prevent the sheep from 
scrambling over the walls. Many years ago I camei on to the 
Moot Law from the Kirkheaton side one very dark night, 
thinking to cut off a corner on my way to Corbridge, but I 
quickly found myself in a dense fog, and lost the road, the 
reisult being that I wandered round for an hour or two, and 
did not reach Corbridge until nine o'clock. Hounds had had a 
good hunt in the Capheaton district, and I had lost a, shoe, 
and whilsti it was being put on two who werei going in 
the same direction had got too> far ahead for me toi catch them 
up. I have other recollections of the Moot Law, for in the 
late 'seventies and early 'eighties there used to> be one or two 
private coursing meetings there every winter, and a party 
of us used to leave Shotley at 6 a.m. and drive twenty miles 
to the fixture with a four-in-hand team. Breakfast, at the 
farm or at Great. Ryall, as the case might be, was the next 
item, and then we coursed until dark, and many of the best 
Northumberland greyhounds of the day used to be among 
the runners. The tenant of the farm was a courser, and he 
saw to it that a plentiful supply of greyhounds were forth- 
coming. No questions were asked as to what the greyhounds 
really were; all ran in their kennel names, and eight-dog 
stakes of 5s., 10s., or £1 were made up on the spot, the 
object of many of the men who brought greyhounds being to 
obtain a good trial. Thus it happened that those which were 
obviously the best performers were often drawn after one 
course; but, on the other hand, if the stakes were run out 
quickly there were always men who wished to run matches, 
and I have seen eight or ten of these after the regular pro- 
gramme had been worked off. The farm in those days carried 
a fine head of hares; but they were for the most part singu- 
larly strong and some of the greyhounds got a terrible 
gruelling. Others, again, were saved by the fact that there 
were smeuses in the walls which the hares knew and went for. 


while the greyhounds had to jump. Once through the smeus© 
the hare would frequently turn sharp along the wall and the 
greyhounds would be unsighted and easily picked up. There 
used to be a dinner at Great Ryall after the sport was over — 
which dinner we had brought with us in the morning — and at 
this several of the neighbouring farmers and the schoolmaster 
from Ingoe were always among the guests; but the profes- 
sional coursers had departed for the railway at Corbridge. 
The schoolmaster, whose name was Ord, was an original, a 
local poet, and about as sharp a hand at repartee as I ever 
met. He would make an impromptu verse about any of the 
company, and one of his efforts I have never forgotten. One 
of our party was named " Willie," and " Ord, who always 
very quickly made himself at home on these occasions, soon 
started chipping Willie, and continued it through the dinner. 
From the centre of the room hung an old candelabra, into 
which half a dozen candles were stuck. When dinner was 
over Willie produced a cigar, and, standing up, tried to reach 
one of the candles iu order to get a light. He made two or 
three shots at the candle, and finally brought it down on the 
table, whilst Ord in his blandest tones kept repeating : 
" Little Willie, Little Willie, 

Make an effort, use some force; 
Now you've got it, now you've missed it 
(and as the candle was brought down). 

Now you've lost the final course." 
In the northern part of thei Tynedale Monday- 
country, it may be mentioned that about every other 
week the Monday meets are held in the extreme north of 
the hunt, the most frequent fixtures being Capheaton, Kirk- 
harle, and Kirkwhelpington, of which the last named is the 
furthest north. Kirkheaton, north of the Moot Law, and 
Bavin^on, a mile and a half north-west of Kirkheaton, do 
not seem to be much utilised as meets in these days; but 
there are coverts at either place, and as far as my experience 
goes these are most frequently drawn after hounds have met 
at Hallington. Of the country round Kirkharle and Kirk- 
whelpington I do not know enough to write with any con- 
fidence. I have been there odd times, and have recollection 
of a fine hunt from Merryshields many years ago; but this- 


particular corner of the Tynedale is well over twenty miles — 
some of it nearly thirty — from my quarters, and no railway 
available. Some years ago (and just before the coming of 
motor-cars) I was frequently in the middle portion of the 
Monday country, and as far north as Hallington and Kirk- 
heaton ; but even those meets involved sending horses to Cor- 
bridge overnight, and a drive of eleven miles, plus a hack of 
ten miles in the morning. If the day was a long one and 
horses were tired, they had to be left at Corbridge a second 
night, and, in fact, too much road work was involved. Meets 
at " The Kirks and the Caps," as a Tynedale man on my 
side of the country used to call them, became out of the ques- 
tion, and here it may be mentioned that throughout the centre 
of the Tynedale country there are remarkably few inns where 
the accommodation for horses can be relied upon. There is an 
inn at Stamfordham, in the Friday country, which, in com- 
pany with the Master of the Braes of Derwent, I used fre- 
quently for a season or two; but to this place also horses had 
to be sent overnight, and we had to drive sixteen miles in the 
morning to reach our horses, and much of the ground was 
very hilly, involving slow progress. All these things are altered 
in these days of motor-cars; but as regards the Tynedale 
country, and reaching the northern part of it from a point 
eight miles beyond its southern boundary, the question of 
horses is even worse than it was, for stables at many of the 
small country inns have been turned into garages, hostlers 
have become chauffeurs, and even where a stable remains there 
may be no forage. Indeed, it is now a difficult matter — at 
times — to procure a drink of meal and water for a tired horse 
at a village inn, and many times in recent years I have bought 
meal at a village shop, and mixed it with water procured at 
the same place. This, however, has occurred more often 
when indulging in a summer driving tour than after hunting, 
for in the latter case, if meal is necessary, it can almost always 
be procured at the house of some hunting man, where one calls 
on the homeward road. 

As regards Capheaton, I have more frequently seen hounds 
run there — generally from the Belsay coverts — than I have 
been present when the coverts have been drawn. Capheaton is 
placed in a grand grass country, and foxes found there must 


almost of a certainty go away over the open; but I hardly 
know their favourite lines — except to Bygate and Belsay. 
I have, however, a short account of a great hunt from the 
Capheaton coverts which took place on March 10th, 1880, 
and particulars of which have been recently sent me by a 
friend, from who?e hunting diary the following is an extract : 
" Met at Bavington. Found west side of Capheaton, lan by 
Wallington, Little Harle, Sweethope, and E,idsdale, over the 
Forest, and killed at Hareshaw Head. Time, two hours and 
thirty-five minutes. Distance run about twenty miles. Most 
of the field stopped at the Reed. Those who finished were 
N. Cornish, huntsman, and the whips, Messrs. Kirsopp, Guy 
Allgood, and J. Greene, and Mr. John Robson, of Newton, 
Bellingham, who joined the hunt on the way." 

This must have been a great hunt, and fairly straight, con- 
sidering the amount of country covered, though hounds went 
north at first (to Wallington) and then north-west. And 
a propos of great hunts in the Tynedale country, a tremendous 
affair took place during the mastership of Mr. Hunter All- 
good, on February 21st, 1868, after hounds had met at Colwell, 
a village just east of the Watling Street, and some nine or 
ten miles north of Corbridge. This run, which caused a great 
deal of talk at the time, and for many years afterwards, was 
not altogether satisfactory, for hounds soon left the good 
country, and reached a rough moorland district, where the 
riding was very bad, and most of the field, as I have always 
heard, were early tailed off, but whether owing to the pace 
or the difficult and quite unaccustomed riding line I am not 
quite certain. In 1883, however, fifteen years after the great 
run, a poem with the title, " A Run with the Tynedale 
Hounds, by a Fox," was published by Blackwood and Sons, 
and as the author of this poem had drawn upon the great run 
for his theme a certain amount of controversy was aroused, 
which resulted in the following letter being written by the 
huntsman of the pack : — 

" Tynedale Kennels, November 6th, 1883. 

" Hon'd Sir, — The great run was on Friday, the 21st of 
February, 1868. The meet was at Colwell; found at Pity 
Me; ran first to the Dungeon, back to Ladywood over Gun- 
nertown Fell, straight to the Tone Inn, then to Wanneys, 


on to Black Hall, then to Harwood and Rothley Craggs, 
where we supposed changed foxes. My horse had had enough. 
Colonel Cust, seeing this, lent me his horse, saying I would 
kill my fox in five minutes. They then ran straight for Simon- 
side. Mr. Ridley, of the Grange, and Tom Martin were the 
only ones with me. We struggled over the moors until we 
reached Simonside, but not a hound could we see. Mr. Ridley 
said to me, ' Blow your horn, you will be sure to get them; 
he will go to ground in the rocks.' I did blow, but got no 
hounds. Colonel Cust's horse was so beat that I thought he 
would have died. With great difficulty got him to a farm- 
house, where we got everything required. The horse soon 
rallied, and got home safe, but without hounds. Colonel Cust 
walked nearly all the way to Stagshaw with my horse — not 
a bad walk in top boots. The hounds ran on over the Coquet 
to a millstream near Biddlestone, where they killed their fox, 
or rather drowned him, at dark. Mr. Turnbull, of Great 
Tosson, collected a lot of the hounds during the night, and 
took care of them until the whip came looking for them the 
next morning. — I am, your obedient servant, 

N. Cornish." 
From the above account it is evident that after hounds 
left Rothley Craggs it was nothing but a stern chase for 
the three who were with them, whereas in the run of March, 
1880, huntsman, whippers-in, and some of the field were 
there to the end. Hounds going clean away from their field 
because of difficulties of terrain are not infrequent, and 
some fifteen years ago the Cumberland pack crossed 
the Eden in flood, and were not found again until the next 
day. As well as I recollect, they had made a seven-mile point 
to the river, but they went straight on after crossing, and 
were found on the following day many miles beyond, there 
being evidence to the effect that they had covered a great 
distance of ground. In the famous run of the Durham County 
pack in the 'forties of last century the latter part of the 
hunt was lost to the field because of fox and hounds crossing 
the Tees — also in flood — while the riders had to go to a bridge 
some miles away. In this latter case hounds made a seven- 
mile point to the river, and a twelve-mile point to the Bedale 
boundary after crossing the river; but this point is not quite 

L 2 


so long as that of the TVnedale from Pity M© to Biddlesitone, 
which is in the present Coquetdale country, many miles north- 
west of Rothbury, and just over twenty miles from the place of 
finding. The run from Capheaton to Hareshaw Head shows a 
point of almost thirteen miles, but worked out on the map, 
by the few names of places which are given, it shows that 
hounds went well over the twenty miles. A twenty-mile 
point is a thing which a man who hunts all his life may never 
fall in for, and then if hounds do happen to make one it is 
good odds against any particular individual lasting to the end. 
Personally, in a fairly long experience, I have never seen a 
longer point than fourteen miles with foxhounds, and one 
of about seventeen, on two occasions, with staghounds. 

The long point with foxhounds was with the Ledbury, 
who ran from Bosbury, close by their kennels of that day, 
to the banks of the Wye near Holme Lacy, most of the 
hunt taking place in the South Hereford country. That 
was during the mastership of the late Mr. Charles Morrell, 
and hounds were running between four and five hours, and 
probably changed more than once. Of points of from seven 
to ten miles I have ridden scores, but I imagine the ten miles 
is not very often exceeded, and if one looks carefully through 
the returns of sport which are sent to the Field at the end of 
the season it will be found that from all over the country — 
including Scotland and Ireland — there are rarely more than 
half a dozen runs mentioned which had a point of ten miles 
and upwards, and sometimes not so many. Where foxes are 
numerous long points are less frequent than where the supply 
is limited, and in many hunts season after season is got 
through without a point of more than half a dozen miles, and 
yet the sport may be remarkably good. There is something 
fascinatinjg about a long point, more especially, perhaps, 
when a neighbouring country is invaded; but a long point 
does not invariably mean a really good hunt. For example, I 
remember a hunt in which a ten-mile point was made, in 
a thinly populated country, and where the fox had four dis- 
tinct spells of road running, aud in this case it meant that 
just about half the distance was done on the road. It is true 
that the roads of that particular hunt were for the most part 
sandy lanes, and not main roads; but the thing became very 


monotonous, and somewhat comic, for more than once the fox 
was viewed nearly half a mile ahead. The hunt in question 
was with the North Durham, and it began close to Burn 
Hill with a fox which jumped up in the heather. He was 
quickly into the Stuartfield Lodge plantation, but when he 
reached the lane at Eliza he stuck to it to the Five Lane Ends, 
ran inside the wall of Woodlands Park for half a mile, and 
then took to the lane again, almost to Browney Bank. Then 
we had a bit of cross country to Bells House, but the fox 
ran the road again from the Monkey's Nest for quite a mile, 
and did the same thing in the lane alongside Weather Hill 
Covert. He was caught in the Shrubbery at Brancepeth, and 
as he had lost half his brush there was an opinion that he 
stuck to the roads because he had no steerage worth the name. 
The Tynedale Wednesday is as a rule in the valley of the 
Tyne proper, between Horsley and Corbridge, or in the North 
Tyne; but in either case the good country is so near that 
hounds very often reach it. Horsley Wood, now the most 
easterly of the riverside coverts — for Wall bottle Dene has too 
much population round it — is a very fine covert, but it is 
more frequently drawn — in my experience — on a Friday. It 
is a certain find, and at times foxes rather hang to it; but 
if they once reach the higher ground near Horsley village 
they may go anywhere, and anyhow they are in the best riding 
country in the hunt. West of Horsley Wood is Whittle Dene, 
and two miles further west the Bywell coverts, owned by 
Lord Allendale. Whittle Dene is a long, winding, and rather 
narrow gill, which has wonderful lying at the north end, and 
is a very foxy spot. Just north of it is a whin covert on 
Nafferton Farm, but many of the Whittle Dene foxes go 
straight to Bywell and vice versa. There are two particularly 
good oovertsi at Bywell, one on either side of the road which 
goes north from the bridge over the Tyne, and these always 
hold foxes. North of them are some small coverts round 
Newton Hall, which come into a Bywell draw, while further 
west is Styford, where there is a long plantation parallel with 
the river, and the Square Wood a field or two north. From 
this Square Wood I saw two eight-mile points in one season 
not many years ago. One fox ran by Newton, Luker House, 
Angus's Whin, Matfen, and Great Ryall to the Moot Law, 


where he got to ground; and the other by Aydon, Halton, 
Rose's Bower, and then left-handed to Errington Hill Head, 
where he turned and came to the Beaufront coverts. Erring- 
ton Hill Head was his furthest point from the Styford Square 
Wood. Very occasionally, but not very often, a fox from the 
Styford coverts will cross the Tyne into the Braes of Derwent 
country, and there is a ford of sorts at Styford ; but as a 
rule it is very deep in winter, and the custom is for the hunt 
servants to stop hounds and bring them back as soon as pos- 
sible. If the river is in flood the bridge at Corbridge, more 
than a mile away, has to be requisitioned. For the country 
which has just been memtioned, Bywell, Styford, and Toll Bar 
are the usual meets. 

To those who do not know the distriot it may be explained 
that a, mile or two west of Hexham the North Tyne and South 
Tyne become united. The former stream has reached the 
junction from the north-west, and the South Tyne from almost 
due west. With the last-named branch of the river we are 
not concerned at the moment ; but the lower part of the North 
Tyne on both banksi, and a considerable parti of the stream on 
the left bank further north, axe in the Tynedale country, and 
the coverts in all this district form part of the Wednesday 
country of the pack. I have mentioned the Styford 
coverts, which are on the Tyne proper, and west of 
them lies the considerable village of Corbridge, the nearest 
coverts to which are those at Aydon Dene, and some small 
spinneys near Stagshow House. These, however, seem to 
belong to the Monday countr}', and, still dealing with the river- 
side, the Beaufront and Sandhoe coverts come necxt, these 
being immediately to the east of the junction of the North 
and South Tyne. The spinneys at Beaufront always hold 
foxeg, as does a larger covert, a, mile beyond, which belongs to 
The Riding, and the local name of which I forget. The Beau- 
front coverts and the bigger plantation I have just mentioned 
lie on the slopes of a hill, and are midway between the river 
and the plateau of the best Tynedale countiry to which I have 
so often referred. Higher up the hill are strong coverts at 
Fawoett Hill, Fern Hill, Butler's Whin, and Stanley Wood, 
and these with the coverts at Beaufront and The Riding form 
the draw of cert.ain Wednesdays, and are amongst them likely 


to produce any amount of sport. Tlae country round thecm is 
neax'ly all grass, with oocasdonal rough fields where some 
heather grows, and if foxes are sometimes rather inclined to 
ring the ohangeis between these particular coverts, the planta- 
tions are so far apart that any amount of fun can be had. 
Indeed, I recollect a Beaufront day, within the last ten years, 
v.'hen hounds were running almost continuously for over four 
hours without eiver going over the military road to the north 
or over the Watling Street to the east. They were — I think — 
as far west as Fallowfield, but fox after fox ran a big ring 
within the limits I have described, and though no great point 
could be made in such an area, the day was one of the best 
of that season. But from Butler's "Whin and Stanley Wood — 
which lie on the south side of the military road — foxes perhaps 
most frequently go north, and there they have before them 
the wide expanse of the Tynedale Monday country. A favourite 
meet for the mosti southern part of the North Tyne valley, 
and also for some of the coverts which have just been men- 
tioned, is St. Oswalds, a tiny hamlet on the military road, 
about one mile east of the bridge over the North Tyne at 
Chollerford, and with several good coverts exceedingly handy. 
To th€ south are Fallowfield and Brunton Banks, while Fern 
Hill and Butler's Whin are barely a mile away, and slightly 
to the north and quite close to the place of meeting is Way 
Wood, a singularly foxy place, in spite of the fact that there 
are large and important stone quarries at its eastern end. 
From Way Wood numberless good runs have come, and I 
believe it was from this covert that hounds ran to the neigh- 
bourhood of Stamfordham in a, high gale a few years ago. 
Hounds were going down wind all the way, and made a point 
of nine or ten miles, and a curious result of the hunti — it was 
said — was that on the following Sunday various farm labourers 
went to church at Matfen or Stamfordham wearing compara- 
tively new and fashionable tall hats. 

Of the coverts in the more northern part of the North Tyne 
valley I have not had enough experience to write with con- 
fidence, but if hounds are on the lefti bank of the river they 
are always quito close to the open Monday country, and may 
(and frequently do) go ever the best of it. If I were resident 
in the Tynedale I should try to keep all the Wednesday 


appointments, for several reasons, the chief of which is that 
hounds so frequently reach the best country in the hunt when 
they are not expected and when there is no one to head foxea, 
no motors or traps on the road, and, in f aot, when the country- 
side is as quiet as it is on a non-hunting day. Then, too, 
though fields are large when hounds meet at Bywell or Howdeu 
Dene, they are much smaller in the North Tyne valley, which, 
as far as my experience goes, is a capital scenting country. 
Indeed, I have long since come to the conclusion that the 
western half of the Tynedale country can hardly be beaten 
as far as its scenting properties are concerned. Much of it is 
old pasture that is never mown, and frequently there is long 
grass in scores of inclosures all through the winter, while at 
times there are traces of heather. The land, indeed, is not 
so highly farmed as the country further east, and this is pro- 
bably because so much of it. is at a considerable height above 
sea level; anyhow, it is most delectable hunting ground, in 
which, by the way, a slow horse is of no more use on five days 
out of six than it would be in Leicestershire or Northants. 
The Tynedale are a, remarkably fast pack, and there are almost 
no woodlands to pvill them up and cause slower hunting. Of 
course scent varies, as it does elsewhere, and on the high 
plateau the wind sometimes interferes with sport; but if the 
conditions are anything like right there is always pace in a 
Tynedale hunt, and common-bred horses are very quickly 
half a mile behind. The best hunters that money can buy are, 
in fact, what are wanted for this country, and I have little 
hesitation in saying that the field is, on the whole, remarkably 
well mounted. 

The Friday country used to attract the biggest fields of the 
week, and I imagine it still does so, and until a few years 
ago the fine open country used to begin within three 
miles of the centre of Newcastle-on-Tyne — on the north-west 
of the town. Indeed, if one left Newcastle by the old coach- 
ing road which runs by Ponteland and Belsay, and forms the 
boundary between the Tynedale and Moipeth countries, it took 
less than three miles to clear the town, and there were — little 
more than a, dozen years agO' — no suburbs on that side. Indeed, 
from the old kennels of the late Mr. Fred Lamb's harriers at 
the Cowgate there was the little hamlet of Kenton half a mile 


away to tli© north, and beyond it a vast expanse oif grand hunt- 
ing country, which contained no industrialism and no popula- 
tion beyond thei ordinary agricultural community, and all this 
could be seen at a glance from the hill on which the kennels 

No doubt the district was " ripe for building," as the land 
exploiters &ay, and no doubt also more dwelling areas were 
being demanded by the growing town close by. But from a 
hunting point of view matters were not improved, for by the* 
building of a light railway — as it was at first; it is 
now an ordinary line — from Newcastle to Ponteland, eight 
miles north of the former place, building operations sprang up 
in several quarters, and a very nice piece of hunting countiry 
became, if not altogeither spoilt, at all eventa sadly mutilated. 
When I was a boy the nearest coverts to Newcastle were a 
spinney or two near Whorlton, not more than four miles from 
the town. There was also Wallbottle Dene, a certain find 
when Mr. J. T. Ramsay lived at Wallbottle Hall and looked 
after the foxes; but I do not hear of the Dene being drawn 
in these days — though it may be — and 1 imagine there is too 
much population near it, for the industrialism now extends 
some miles west of Newcastle along the riverside, and there 
are one or two new collieries in the districti. I saw hounds 
run to Wallbottle Dene not long before the war fro.m Throokley 
Fell, and that was while the light railway was being laid, and 
the country was full of rumour as to the " live v;ire " system 
being adopted. There is, however, a comparatively new colliery 
called North Wallbottle, which is quite close to Jingling Gate, a 
favourite meet of Mr. Lamb's harriers, and there is a building 
estate between that place and the Cowgate, through which 
rung the Newcastle to Stamfordham road, and theire are fur- 
ther building sites near the North road, not far from Ponte- 
land, and also " village homes " and so forth. From what 
I have been told the coverts have not suffered much, but hunt- 
ing people who have had experience of such matters know 
that suburbs of every sort alter the hunting of a disitrict, and 
in my opinion they interfere even more with sport than a 
colliery does, the lasti-named being as a rule a, self-contained 
affair, with colliery and colliery village covering a compara- 
tively small piece of ground. There are practically no collieries 


ia the Tyneidale country, for North. Wall bottle is really almost 
extra- parochial, being on the extreme boundary, and shutting 
off no covers from the open parts of the hunt. Nor is the 
particular district in which it lies quite such good hunting 
country as the rest of the hunt, for there is far more arable 
land in proportion to grass in this south-easterly corner of the 
Tynedale country, and some of this arable is very holding. 
Callerton Hall used to be a frequent meeti for this part of the 
country, and the best covert on the estate is — perhaps I should 
say was — the whin at Hold House. This ooverti I saw drawn half 
a dozen times in two seasons, and there were never fewer than 
three or four foxes in it. One rather peculiar hunt I remember 
from it, nearly all of which took place in the Morpeth country. 
It was not a fast hunt, nor a. particularly good one, but it 
ended with a kill, after a seven-mile point. Hounds ran east, 
crossing the high road a mile north of Woolsington Hall, and 
going on by Dinnington, ran to Seaton Bum House, killing 
their fox in the garden. The late Mr. Frank Snowball, who 
then lived there, entertained the field, and I remember a 
discussion in his dining-room as to how far some of us were 
from home — Callerton, it may be mentioned, is further from 
the kennels at Sta.gshaw Bank than any other meet of the 
Tynedale Hounds — and it transpired that Mr. Straker, the 
Tynedale M.F.H., was over thirty miles from the Leazes, Hex- 
ham, where he lived. And in those days Mr. Straker rode 
hacks to the meets, and home again at night. I reckoned that 
that day — for they drew again at Darras Hall and had another 
run — he must, have ridden nearer eighty than seventy miles. 

The village of Stamfordham, thirteen miles north-west of 
Newcastle, is the centre of the Friday country, and in some 
degree the capital of the Tynedale Hunt. It is a plain, rather 
old-fashioned village built round a green, in the midst of a 
pleasant agricultural country, and has nothing remarkable 
about it except that, it contains a great deal of stabling, which 
is taken up by various members of the Tynedale Hunti. It 
is central for the whole country, but is not a. residential village, 
for it chiefly consists of farm buildings, stables, public-houses, 
a few shops, and a good many cottages. The river Pont, runs 
through it, and there are good coverts within a mile or two on 
every side. I must, however, deal with the principal public- 


house first, for of tliisi place I have very lively recollections. 
The Bay Horse is the hostelry iu quesition, and in the year 
1873 the late Mr. Percy Taylor was in want of a house in the 
centre of the Tynedale Hunt, and, being unablei to find one, 
bought the Bay Horse — which happened to be in the market— 
ins.tailled himsielf in the first floor, and brought half a dozen 
good-looking young horses to the stables. He hunted the three 
days each week, and on off days drove a high dogcart — the 
vogue in those days — to Newcastle to get his hair cut and so 
forth. Now Percy Taylor was a friend and an old school- 
fellow of mine, and he quickly asked me to come and inspect 
his new quarters, and offered to mount me on the Friday of 
a certain week and again on the Monday. About the Friday's 
hunting I have no recollection, except that Percy came home 
with a, brush in his pocket, that two or three friends arrived 
for dinner, and that later in the evening a regular levee of 
village folk was held, Percy, in evening scarleti and using the 
brush as a chairman's mallet, presiding over a curious assem- 
blage, which included thei village policeman, the man who 
drove the 'bus to Newcastle, the local saddler, and others. All 
went well until closing time, when a deputation of Stamford- 
ham wives appeared at the head of the stairs, each one claim- 
ing her husband and marching him off. Afticr breakfast on the 
following morning there was an adjournment to the paddock 
behind the stable, and all the horses, except those which had 
been hunted on the previous day, were brought out, saddled, 
and bridled. Then began all sorts of schooling performances, 
which the horses did not really want, and at length the party 
got betting as to whether they could retain a half-crown piece 
between either knee and the saddle whilst riding over a flight 
of hurdles. There was a good deal of fun over this, and I 
have a recollection of winning many half-crowns, and losing 
them again by tirying to keiep three or four in place at the 
same time. The horses worked as if it was their regular busi- 
ness, but there was one youngster (we were all mere boys) who 
dropped his coins every time and was in despair, until Martiin, 
the stud groom, appeared with two large flat tea cakes, and 
told him to try them instead of a coin. The youngster got up 
in great glee, having jammed a teacake under each knee; but 
this time he could not keep his seat, let alone thei teacakes. 


all tkree going over the horse's head as he gkiramed the hurdle. 
This Martin was by way of being a poet in his own estimation, 
and during that winter, when his maatier and I w€ire shooting 
in another part of the country, and a daily bulletin aa to the 
health of the stud was required, one came by wire as follows: 
" All blooming well, no cause for sorrow, 
Five hunters true, namely, Edinboro', 
Pilot, Springwell, Rose, and Vixen, 
And Martin, that'll make the six 'un." 
Springwell was aa fine a hunter as I ever rode, but a hard 
puller, and Percy never cared much for him, the result being 
that I had many a good ride on him with the Tynedale, and 
one or two with the Morpeth. The horse made a long price 
(I forget how much) when the stud was broken up, and when, 
as has been mentioned, a horse named Simon went to the late 
Sir Wm. Eden for 300gg. Simon was better looking than 
Springwell, but I, who rode them both, preferred the latter, 
who had an extraordinary stride and great pace for a hunter. 

A propos some of the very long runs which the Tynedale 
have had from time to time, I have had several letters, and 
one of these is, I am sorry to say, undecipherable. Even 
printers, accustoimed to all sorts of handwriting, have failed 
to read it, and this is in a great measure due to the fact that 
the correspondent has written with a faint pencil all over a 
single sheet of paper. Grossing and recrossing, and leaving 
many of his words unfinished. I think the name Stamford - 
ham occurs more than once, and there appears to be some- 
thing about Cornish and a particular horse, but nothing 
definite can be gathered from the epistle. From Mr. John 
Robson, of Newton, Bellingham, whose name was mentioned 
in connection with the great run from Clapheaton, I have 
received a letter throwing further light on the hunt referred 
to, and Mr. Robson incloses me another letter which refers 
to a great run which had an even longer point. On this last 
occasion hounds met at The Highlander, which is on the Noi*th 
road from Newcastle and from two to three miles south of 
Belsay, and on the Morpeth border. They ran right across the 
northern part of the Tynedale country, reaching the Border 
country at Lee Hall, and the point (to Lee Hall) is fully fifteen 
miles. I cannot find Coat Hill on my map, but Lee Hall is 


on tiie river Rede — " the river " refered to in the letter — and 
" Uncle Hunter " is the late Mr. Hunter Allgood, of Nun- 
wick, who was Master after Major Bell retired. Unfortun- 
ately, Mr. Robson's correspondent cannot remember the date 
of this run, but adds in her covering letter that an earlier Mr. 
Allgood, presumably the father of Mr. Hunter Allgood, and 
the Rev. James Allgood (His Reverence), used to ask the Hay- 
don or the Slaley hounds to draw his covert every year, and 
the Rev. Mr. Allgood remembered a good hunt from 
Countess Park to St. Oswald's, where they clashed 
with Sir Matthew White Ridley's hounds. Whether this 
particular hunt was achieved by the Haydon or the Slaley 
is not stated, but the point is a long one, for St. Oswald's is 
on the military road, and not more than two or three miles 
from the Tynedale kennels at Stagshaw Bank. The elder Mr. 
Allgood used also to ask Mr. James, of Otterburn, and his 
hounds in the holidays, and mention is made of a fine run 
which ended at Canon Bird's plantation (believed to have 
been since cut down). 

" Newton, Bellingham, July 27th, 1916. 
" Shotley, Dear Sir, — In your interesting article on 
hunting you made one mistake when you say I joined the 
Hareshaw run. I was there at the meet., and was in it all the 
way. Hounds ran fairly fast to Fourlaws, when there was a 
check, and afterwards it was slow hunting across the Rede 
Valley till the fox jumped up in some rough heather in Hare- 
shaw, and the delight of Cornish when his hounds knocked 
the fox over was a treat to witness. It was a little vixen fox 
which must have been the original one, as hounds never entered 
a covert. The best run I ever had with the Tynedale, though 
it had no point, was from Nunwick, when we had killed two 
foxes with the Border, and, finishing near Wark, sent hounds 
home and joined the Tynedale. The pace was very fasti; in 
fact, hounds were never once touched. Sewingshields was his 
point, but, leaving it on the righti, he ran alongside the 
military road to Teppermuir, when he turned north by Hathe- 
ridge to Haughton, then up the river past Nunwick and 
Parkend to Wark, and about a mile up the river, where he was 
killed. Cornish was a very proud man, as every hound was 
up. Tired and dead horses were left at every farm from Tepper- 


muir, and veoy few would have aeen the finish except that 
after leaving there hounds were always on the outside of the 
field. The longest run they would ever have except that 
across the Coquet which you mention was one from Belsay to 
Shitliagton Crags, which he could not reach. The late 'Reiv. 
James Allgood had a pack at Nunwick, and old Joe Buchous, 
who is still living, saw fox, hounds, and field all in the Tyne 
together, the fox having lain down on a stone in the river 
at Lee Hall. I inclose a letter from Mrs. R. Bell, nee All- 
good, describing it, and it and these notes may interest you. 
— Sincerely yours, John Robson." 

" Drew Bitchfield first, and found; ran through Bygate, 
which was an open covert, Belsay Dene, skirted Capheaton, 
through Lake Plantation, Great Law, left Merryshields on 
right, past Great Bavington, New Onstead, left Thockrington 
on south, past North Heugh, across Watling Street at Water- 
falls, leaving Tone to the south, past Lowshield Green, down to 
Lee Hall; crossed North Tyne there, up the hills, crossed Belling- 
ham turnpike, and killed him in the open at Coat HilL The 
fox, ho'unds, and horses were all in the river together at Lee 
Hall; the fox jumped up on Lee Hall Islands. The country 
was very dry indeed. Jim Firr, the whip, was the first into 
the river. Those up were Major Bell (the Master), Jim Firr, 
Swan and Mather, and J. Allgood. The only check — could 
hardly be called a check — ^was at Lowshield Green, Swan was, 
I think, a North Countryman, a very light weight, who waa 
very keen, called ' Dickie's Swan,' mentioned in that ' Run 
with the Tynedale Hounds ' which I expect you have; he 
once cried when he missed a run ! Mather, I think, waa a 
very hard riding farmer ; do you know whetre he lived ? Mr. 
Rid dell, of Cheeseburn, had a bad fall over that wall running 
west from North Onstead ; His Reverence often showed me the 
place, and Uncle Hunter stopped with him. He also often 
showed me where they killed the fox, close to that old tall 
thorn hedge which is between the road and the Coat Hill 

There is no doubt whatever that the Tynedale hounds have 
had over a period of years many hiints of great length, and 
at various times when I have been hundreds of miles away I 
have heard of fine hunts and great points the particulars of 


which never reached the Field, though as a general rule 
there was some aocoiint of them in the local Press. I am in- 
clined to think also tha,b more of these very good hunts have 
been from east to west or vice versa than from north to 
south or the reverse way. The Tynedale Friday country 
ig a wonderful hunting locality, and etxceiDt for a 
small district, at the southern end of the hunt which 
has been mentioned it is entirely free from plough 
land, and consistiS of wide grass pastures, for the most 
part well drained, and separated by thorn fences, moat o£ 
which are on a bank. The stone wall which is greatly in 
evidence in the Monday country does not extend to the Stam- 
fordham-Belsay district. Not thati there are no walls in this 
district, but there are fewer on the eastern boiundary of the 
hunt than on the west and north-western sides, and of course 
hounds frequently run from one district to another. Stam- 
fordham is the centre of this Friday countiry, and within two 
or three miles of the village are many excellent coverts. On 
the south-east of Stamfordham there are the Cheesebum 
Grange coverts, and a mile or two further south fine gorses 
called Dodley Whin and Harlow Hill Whin, which lastrnamed 
place is looked after by the Bell family of Harlow Hill, and, 
as far as my experience goes, generally holds not one but four 
or five foxes, even quite late in the season. From Harlow Hill 
foxes may go to the strong riverside covert, of Horsley Wood, 
or they may go to the Cheeseburn district, and this is what 
I have seen them do most frequently. All hunting people, 
however, know thati it is impossible to be certain as to which 
way any particular fox may go from any given covert. Indeed, 
one of the greati charms of the sport, of hunting is its infinite 
variety. Hounds may draw a covert, half a dozen times in a 
few weeks, find every time, and never go twice over the same 
line. There are, howeiver, as most hunting men of experience 
know, certain foxes from time to time who will make some 
particular point with great regularity. Such foxes are to be 
found occasionally in every countiry, and :as a rule such foxes 
are hardy customers and tricky, able to baffle hounds time 
after time, but generally caughti at last. Sometimes it happems 
that huntsmen. Masters, and even some of the field may know 
these " regulars " by sight, and my old friend the late John 


Greenwell, of Broom shields, knew his own foxes at a glanoe, 
and many of his neighbours' foxes as well. But then he was 
oonsJtantly among them, for not. only did he do a lot of earth- 
stoipping, buti he watched foxes at play right through the 
summer, and, having a quick eye, he noticed little peouliari- 
ties, and more especially peculiarities of action. He used to 
say that half a dozen foxes would all trot and gallop in slightly 
different form, and I am much inclined to believe that he was 
right, for this variation of action can be found in most hounds, 
and to a much greater eixtent in horses. Look at any field of 
hunters galloping over the open, and there will be as many 
styles of going as theire are horses in sight. It is the same, 
too, in a show ring, and here the action can be studied. How 
often, too, when hunting, does one recognise a horse that is 
quite a long way off by his action, and before his rider can be 
plainly discerned. 

Coverts Round Stamfordham. 
West and north of Stamfordham is ai very fine covert, called 
the Fens, which lies high on a hillside, and not as the name 
suggests in a hollow. Due wesit are the Matf en coverts, which 
have been mentioned in connection with the Monday country, 
while on the east side of the village are the Heugh covert, 
certain plantations about Dalton and Dissington Hall, and a 
mile further on East Dissington, a capital covert, and a 
certain find. Further north, between Dissington and Belsay, 
is Milbourne Dene, through which flows a brook, called, I 
think, the Black Heddon Brook. Some years ago hounds had 
run a fox into the Dene and hunted steadily up it. It was 
in mid-winter, and the brook, which no doubt is a trickle in 
summer time, was greatly swollen, and the banks almost hid- 
den. Towards the western end of the Dene there is a ford, 
with a narrow wicket gate in front of it, and the field had to 
pull up and go through in single file. The entrance to the ford 
beyond the wicket was narrow also, and as horses began tO' be 
a little crowded, one standing within two or threei yards of the 
bank shot out and jumped the brook, doing this " on his own " 
to the amazement of his rider. Almost immediately other 
horses were infected with the same idea, and one or two of 
the field who were not in the least inclined for a biggish water 
jump found themsielvea carried over or into the water. It wa<: 


a comic scene, but it only lasted for a few minutes, and mean- 
time hounds were going on alongside the brook, and the 
leaders of the field had no idea what was occurring behind. 
North of Milbourne is the Belsay district, but the two places 
are separated by a wildish tract of grazing land, in which is 
located Bitchfield Whin, the starting point of the hunt to 
Lee Hall described above. This is a fine covert., and I have 
never seen it drawn blank, but I do not think I have been 
there more than seven or eight times when hounds have drawn 
it. Milbourne, East Dissington, Bitchfield, and some of the 
other Belsay coverts are right on the Morpeth border, and foxes 
fonnd therein are just as likely to go into the Kirkley district 
of the Morpeth hunt as to remain in Tynedale country. 
Indeed, I have seen the pack cross and recross the high road 
which forms the boundary half a. dozen times in the day. 
Round Belsay Hall there are the Lake Coverts, the Bantam, 
and a plantation ronnd the village, which, if I reoolleot 
rightly, is called the School Plantation. The Lake Covert 
is probably the best of these, but the covert of the Belsay 
Estate is Bygate, which is described as " an open coveirt " 
in the account of the Lee Hall Hunt in Major Bell's master- 
ship. Judging from the size of the trees, Bygate was prob- 
ably very recently planted at. the time referred to, but of 
late years it has been a wonderful covert, there being any 
amount of lying, with heather, gorse, and bracken still grow- 
ing among the trees. The covert is long and narrow at the 
Belsay end, but wider at the western end, and it isi on a 
sloping hill, and according to my experience, remarkably dry. 
Just north of it is a narrow plantation. — at right angles to. the 
westiem end of Bygate — but this I always look upon almost as 
parti of Bygate, and, anyhow, if the lasti named is drawn, it 
is good odds that the other place — called, I think, the Brick 
Kilns — ^is disturbed. What I like best about Bygate is that 
it affords constant proof of thei fact thati foxes and pheasants 
can dwell in amity, for I have never been at Bygat© and found 
it untenanted by very considerable numbers of either. I r«i- 
member once being on a ride in the middle of the covert, when 
four or five foxes crossed within a. few minutes, and at the 
same time pheasants were rising in great numbers, and going 
either to the Brick Kilns or the Lake Wood. Fine, high- 


flying birds they were, too, for from my position near tlie top 
of tihe hill I could command a great deal of country, 1 
imagine that the Capheaton coverts in the Monday country 
are a very favourite point with Bygate foxes, but in this part 
of the Tynedale Hunt it makes absolutely no matter what 
direction is taken, for the ooTintry is all excellent galloping 
ground, and the coverts are nicely separated. It is, in fact, 
a grand country, worth taking a lot of tiiouble to reach, but 
as likely as any country in the kingdom to reward the visitor 
with something special in the way of a hunt. Its foxes are 
numerous and strong, well looked after, and for the most part 
travellers, and when you add to that that they are hunted 
by a magnificent pack of big, upstanding hounds, and that 
the " management " — so to speak — is in most capable hands 
of great experience, you have such possibilities for sporti as are 
only vouchsafed to a few of the very best countries in the 
kingdom . 

The Morpeth Country. 

Mention has been made of the Morpeth country, 
and of this hunt I know just enough to write of 
it in terms of praise, but my actual hunting days passed 
in it have been iew and far between, and extend over a 
great number of years. In connection with the Tynedale 
it has been explained that the hunt now known as the Mor- 
peth was formed by Sir Matthew White Ridley in 1818, and 
was continued by Sir Matthew and his son until 1844, when 
the country was divided, Mr. Watson, of North Seaton, and 
Mr. Vaughan taking the southern and western side of Sir 
Matthew's country, while Lord Elcho (afterwards Lord 
Wemyss) took over the north side. This is the short account 
which is given in Baih/s Hunting Directory, but some years 
ago I had occasion to inquire as to the early masterships 
of the Morpeth, and found evidence to the effect that the 
founder of the pack hunted the country until his death in 
1836, that his son took on the hounds for a couple of seasons, 
and in 1838 was succeeded by Mr. Riddell, of Cheeseburn 
Grange, and Mr. Matthew Clayton, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, 
who acted as jont Masters until 1844, when the country was 
split up in the manner which has been stated. Certain it is 
that Sir Matthew White Ridley hunted a very large tract 
of country, having his principal kennels at Blagdon. Whether 
he had supplementary kennels I do not know, but all the 
Tynedale country north of the river Tyne was included in 
his hunt, and hounds must have had to travel very long dis- 
tances to covert at times. Nor do I know how far the hunt 
extended north of the Coquet, into what is now the Percy 
country, but I imagine that it was the country beyond the 

M 2 


Coquet which Lord Elcho took over. The enthusiast just 
named came to Northumberland in 1843, and began hunting 
in the north of the country, but in the following year he 
seems to have also had the district between the rivers Coquet 
and Alne as well, and he is credited with this district in 
Hohson's Hunting Atlas, which was published a few years 
later. I have always understood that between 1844 and 
1854 there were kennels at Belsay, and these would be more 
central for a country which included the present Morpeth 
and Tynedale hunts than Blagdon, Belsay being almost in 
the centre of the two hunts. According to tradition, the 
Ridley hounds were famous for long hunts, and on January 
30th, 1832, they ran from Dissington Whin (in the Tynedale 
country) to the coast at North Seaton, which means a point 
of great length. 

But a projws of what has been just written, I may refer 
my readers to certain extracts which have been quoted from 
Sykes's Local Records, and which deal with the Morpeth 
country. From these extracts it would appear that 
the second Sir Matthew White' Ridley — ^who isi referred 
to in the extracts — handed the hounds over to the committee 
immediately after his father's death, and not at a later period, 
as has been very broadly stated, and that, in fact, this small 
committee period came in between the masterships of the two 
Sir M. W. Ridleys. Also it is evident that the hounds 
belonged to the Ridleys until they were sold in 1845 — after 
the arrival on the scene of Lord Elcho in the north, Mr. 
Watson, of North Seaton, in the centre, and Mr. Nicholas 
Maughan on the west of the country. But how long the 
committee of two — or of three according to local records — 
was in existence, and at what exact date, I havei no par- 
ticular evidence, except tradition, which places the period at 
two seasons. Perhaps some reader of this book may be able 
to clear up this point, and may also have information as to 
the Belsay kennels, how long they were used, and whether 
the pack was there in its entirety — and for how long — or 
whether the kennel was only a supplementary one to the 
larger kennel at Blagdon. 

In 1854 there were considerable changes as regards the 
hunting of South Northumberland and the boundaries of the 


Tarious hunts. The Morpeth and Tynedale countries were 
formed, and that formation has been held toi ever since. Mr. 
Nicholas Maughan had been hunting part ol the present Tyne- 
dale country for some years before the final change was made, 
and possibly the " Ridley " hounds, as they were called when 
the kennels were at Belsay, did not go so far south-weati as Sir 
Matthew White Ridley had done, but about this I am not 
certain, and perhaps what occurred nearly seventy 
years ago is not of great moment just now. But in 1854, 
when Major Bell became Master of the Tynedale — as it now 
is — Mr. John Cookson, of Meldon, took the Morpeth, and 
the boundary was fixed at the main road which runs from 
Newcastle through Ponteland and Belsay to Cambo, and I 
am inclined to think that the best of the Morpeth country 
lies between this high road and the Newcastle to Morpeth 
coach road. This is a district of sound grass of similar 
character to the best of the Tynedale country, where the 
inclosures are for the most part large, and the fences either 
level with the field or on a small bank. It is, in fact, essen- 
tially a riding country, and all the northern portion of it is 
free from population. At the southern end of this district 
there are various collieries, and there are more east of the 
Newcastle to Morpeth road, but all the northern and western 
side of the hunt is fine open country, slightly undulating 
south of the river Wansbeck, and more hilly between the 
Wansbeck and Coquet — especially on the north-west. The 
Wansbeck flows right through the centre of the country, and 
east of Morpeth are several miles of wooded banks, to which 
foxes hang at times. Indeed, I spent a morning there with 
hounds a few years ago, and though there were foxes 
innumerable, we never went far from the banks. There is also 
the river Pont, some half dozen miles south of the Wans- 
beck, and this stream, which is only a brook in the western 
part of the Tynedale country, becomes a formidable affair 
east of the village of Ponteland, and it also has a mile or 
two of wooded banks in the neighbourhood of Hartford 
Bridge. Between the Wansbeck and the Coquet there is some 
plough land, especially near the sea, and also one or two large 
collieries; but the land near Bothal — famous as a great 
coursing ground — is mostly grass, and as a matter of fact it is 


estimated that 70 per cent, of the Morpeth country is grass, 
20 per cent, moorland and woodland, and only 5 per cent, 
under the plough. It will be understood, then, that the 
country is, like its neighbour, the Tynedale, essentially a 
grass one, and in pre-war days fields were often of great size, 
more especially when hounds met in the Whalton country. 
Since the war Major W. W. Burden has been hunting this 
eastern parti of the Morpeth coujitry two days a week, by 
arrangement with the Morpeth Hunt. 

Mr. John Cookson's mastership extended over a period of 
nineteen years, and he was followed by his son, the late Mr. 
John Blencowe Cookson, who held oflBice until 1894, the father 
and son thus having control of the Morpeth hunt for a period 
of forty years. The younger Mr. Cookson was his own hunts- 
man, and was one of the smartest amateur huntsmen of his 
day. He rode hard, and had a wonderfully good eye for what 
hounds were doing, besides having great knowledge of the 
sport. He was extraordinarily quick in the field, too, and I 
once recollect Mr. Maynard (during his mastership of the 
North Durham) being annoyed at the slowness of his own 
huntsman, and shouting out: " I'll send you to have a day 
with the Morpeth, so that you may see how quick a huntsman 
can be." The Cookson era was a most successful one, and 
the hunt exceedingly popular, and it need hardly be said a 
very high average of sport was maintained. My first visits to 
the Morpeth were paid during the last years of the elder 
Mr. Cookson's mastership, and between 1873 and 1875, and 
as I went from Stamfordham with the late Mr. Percy Taylor 
I generally saw hounds in their best country. Towards the 
end of the 'seventies I had a fair number of days with the 
pack on the Newcastle side of the country, riding hirelings 
obtained at Newcastle, and having as a rule John Greenwell 
for my companion. My old friend dearly loved a day in a 
strange country, and together we visited many northern 
hunts; but for a time he was a good deal inclined to the 
Morpeth, firstly because hirelings in good condition were in 
those days always to be found in Newcastle, and, secondly, 
becaixse he could stay comfortably at the long defunct North- 
umberland Club in Westgate-road, which was in those days a 
great resort of northern hunting men. Then, too,, John 


Greenwell sold a couple of high-class hunters to Mr. J. B. 
Cookson during the latter's mastership, and I remember we 
made a pilgrimage to a Woolsington meet to see how these 
horses performed in their new country. We had heard that 
both were likely to be out that day, but owing to a train 
journey before we got our horses we were late, and when we 
reached the scene of the meet hounds had found (at Wool- 
sington) and gone north. We followed on, and caught them 
up on Prestwick Carr, where hounds had checked, and almost 
immediately we saw the Master-huntsman jump a big and 
very full " stell " — a local name for a wide, open drain — 
on one of the Broomshields horses. This was a chestnut which 
had been bred at Broomshields, and which I had had for 
the greater part of the previous season. He was a big, power- 
ful horse by the great hurdle racer, ^ Hesper — who was then, 
or had been standing shortly before, at Woodlands, in the 
North Durham country — and in the following spring he won 
a joint point-to-point race of the Tynedale and Morpeth 
hunts, which was held at the " Highlander," near Belsay, 
and which was one of the first point-to-points run in the north 
of England. John Peel, as the horse was called in his young 
days, was ridden by Mr. Charles Hunter, and heavy and 
light weights ran together, but horses not ridden by their 
owners put up 71b. extra. " John Peel " came in alone, win- 
ning by perhaps 150 yards, and I can remember that there 
was a desperate finish among the heavy weights, in which 
Mr. Matthev/ Liddell (Tynedale) just beat the Master of the 
Morpeth by a head or a neck on the post. Point-to-point 
races have altered in character since those days, but to the 
best of my recollection this one was run on a straight course 
of four miles, with no turn. Many years afterwards Mr. 
Cookson told me that " John Peel " did nine seasons, carry- 
ing either his owner or the kennel huntsman and that he was 
one of the best horses he had ever had at Meldon. He was 
six years old when Mr. Cookson bought him. 

When Mr. J. B. Cookson resigned the Morpeth country in 
1894 he was succeeded by Mr. R. Clayton Swan, who had 
formerly been Master of the Sinnington, and has since been 
Master of the Blankney. Mr. Swan was the first Master of 
the Morpeth who was not a native of the district, but he 


was — and is — an enthusiast, and his mastership was a suc- 
cessful one, most particularly as regards the pack, which was 
enormously improved during the eight seasons Mr. Swan had 
the hounds. I never saw the Morpeth during this period, but 
frequently heard what a fine pack they were and what good 
sport they showed, and the prowess of the pack is proved by the 
fact that when Mr. Swan resigned in 1902 he sold his hounds 
privately to Mr. Cresswell for £3,000, the sum to be paid 
having been agreed upon by hound experts. Mr. Cresswell 
was then leaving the Percy after a mastership of six seasons, 
but he never went to the Morpeth after all, but passed the 
pack on at (I believe) a slight discount to Mr. Frank Buddie 
Atkinson, who is in office to the present day. Mr. 
Atkinson, who will be remembered by racing men 
as one of the best soldier jockeys of his day, and 
whoi at' one tiime owned many high-olass cross-country 
horseisi, has thoroughly maintained the status of the 
kennel, the blood of which is now to be found in nearly all 
the northern hunts. Personally, I have seen hounds that 
were excellent in their work in other packs, but sired by Mor- 
peth hounds, and I know, for example, that Morpeth Printer, 
bred by Mr. Swan in 1900, did immense good in many 
northern kennels. Printer was by the Morpeth Glenwood, a 
son of the Belvoir "Watchman, who was by the famous Belvoir 
Gambler out of Primrose, by the Warwickshire Warlock. 
Another hound from the Morpeth kennels I used to hear of 
as siring good stock in other kennels a few years ago was 
Solomon, who was by the Belvoir Dasher, a son of Belvoir 
Dexter — the last named, to my mind, the best-looking hound 
I ever saw, and he, like Morpeth Printer, was by the Belvoir 
Watchman. Some years ago I was one of the judges 
at a Morpeth puppy show, and at the time gave some 
account of the pack in the Field, and I was last at the 
River Green kennels just a week before war was declared, and 
when the grave situation of the European Powers was more 
ta,lked about than the excellent lot of puppies that were 
judged that day. During Mr. Atkinson's mastership I have 
seen the pack at work on two or three occasions, but have 
not been lucky enough to come in for one of their big hunts. 
Once, however, \ saw a very large field after a meet at High 


House, when no fewer than sixty scarlets were counted by a 
lady member of the hunt. Of the sport on that day I 
remember that hounds divided, and that the section I followed 
had a pretty forty minutes, going south to the Blagdon 
Co^/erts, and also that the rain of the afternoon was heavy 
enough to go through the thickest of hunting clothes. I must 
add that whenever I have been tQ the Morpeth country I have 
always found an exceptionally pleasant — and perhaps I may 
add jovial — field. The stranger was made welcome in a 
manner that is greatly appreciated, and offers of hospitality 
were as numerous as foxes in the coverts. The Morpeth 
have the advantage of a very efficient secretary in Mr. F. 
Straker, of Angerton Hall, a brother of the Masters of the 
Tynedale and Zetland Hunts, and there is a wonderful system 
all over the country for dealing with wire, poultry damage, 
and so forth, which was inaugurated some years ago. The 
country is parcelled out into districts, about thirty, I believe, 
and each district is looked after by a member of the hunt, 
many of the men who act being themselves farmers. The 
upshot is that matters are made very smooth for the hard 
riders of the hunt, and the system — which, by the way, is 
now in vogue on somewhat similar lines in many hunts — 
might well be copied where wire is troublesome and the means 
of dealing with it vague. In these days it is of little use 
fighting against what appears to be the cheapest form of fenc- 
ing, but there are few places in v/hich arrangements for taking 
the wire down during the hunting season cannot be made, 
and the system of making small districts with one man to look 
after each of them seems to be absolutely the best plan which 
it is possible to adopt. 


The Zetland Hunt. 

Probably some of my read-ers may bo getting tired of the 
frequent referenoes in this volume to the latei John Green- 
weill, of Broomshields, but it ig impo'ssible for m© to writ© of 
the earlier hunting which I saw without: bringing his nam© 
in. He was suoh an enthusiastio and whole-hearted foxhunter, 
such a. preserver of foxes, and was so deeply versed in foxlore, 
that it was a, pleasure for anyone of similar tastes to go about 
with him. Together in schoolboy days w© learnt something of 
the mysteries of earth stopping, and it was in his company 
that I first saw anything of what is now the Zetland country. 
But this was during the late Mr. Cradook's time, and before 
Lord Zetland took the country more than fifty years ago. And 
first' I may explain for the benefit of those who do not know the 
district thati the Zetland country is partly in Durham and 
partly in Yorkshire, the two districts being of about equal sdz©, 
and divided by the river T^ies as it flows from Barnard Castle 
to Croft. Hounds go west, of Barnard Castle on both banks 
of the river, but the best part of the hunti, broadly speaking, 
has Darlington at its eastern end, and Barnard Castle in Dur- 
ham and Richmond in Yorkshire at. its western end. My first 
recollections of the pack are, however, with the extreme 
northern part of the hunt, which extends as far as the river 
Weiar — which, indeed, separates it from the North Durham 
country for a. considerable distance, in the neighbourhood of 
Wolsingham, Witton-le-Wear, and Etherley. It was this 
part' of Mr. Cradock's hunt that I first saw, more particularly 
when hounds were in th© neighbourhood of Hamsterley, or at 
the Black Banks, a fir covert overhanging th© Wear, and to 
th© besti of my knowledge the most northerly covert drawn 


by the pack. Oiily once in Mr. Cradock's day did I see hounds 
draw the Black Banks (which are, I believe, the property of 
Mr. Herbert Straker, the joint Ma&ter of the Zetland), but 
I have seen Lord Zeitland's hounds there many times since, 
generally in the lat.e spring, when they had ceased advertising 
and were trying to mop up a few more foxes in the wilder 
parts of the hunt. The Black Banks and the neighbouring 
ooverta about Shull, Hoppyland, and St. John's are quite 
close to the moors, and are what Surtees wo'Uld have called 
" extra-parochial." I have not been there for many years, 
but the place used to swarm with foxes, and Champion used 
to do his best toi prevent them crossing the river. My re- 
collection is that when they did so they generally came back, 
not necessarily into the Banks, but into some of the other 
ooverta which lie between tlie entirance of the Bedburn stream 
to the Wear and the Black Banks. A feiw miles siouth of 
the Banks, round Hamsterley, there is a delectable hunting 
country, and it was here on many Saturdays that " John " 
and I found hounds in our pony days and saw many a, useful 
hunt. We had to leave early, however, for he came fro^m 
Broomshields and I from Woodlands, nearly four miles fur- 
ther north, and not only did we generally want the same 
ponies for the Durham country on the Monday, buti we always 
had a long distance to travel both before. and after hunting. 
At times hounds would cross the river and run on. Mot more 
than four seasons ago the North Durham ran on to the moors 
south of Shull, and when I was living at Broomshields in tlie 
'eighties I remember some six or seven couples of hounds run- 
ning a fox into the main earths on Westi Carr Hill, but a 
v/hipper-in was following on, and he quickly took them away. 
I have one very vivid recollection of a big run with Mr. 
Cradock'g hounds. It was, I think, in 1872, and the meet 
was at Cockfield. It was towards the end of the season, and 
on the previous day the North Durham were at Colepike Hall, 
and had one of th.e worst days I ever remember in that 
country. There were) plenty of foxes, but according to the 
huntsman they were all vixens, and hooindg were stopped 
from running three or four times and sent home early. With 
my father I had driven to the meet from Shotley, and he had 
left the trap at the place of meeting. When I got back to 


Colepike about half th& field were refreshing, and there was 
a general grumble at the failure of the sport. Then someone 
said : "What about Cockfield with Mr. Cradook to-morrow ? " 
and, toi cut a, long story shorts, my father sent the horses he 
and I had been riding to Witton-le-Wear for the night, and 
we drove homei. An early start was made the next' morning, 
for Witton-le-Wear and Shotley are aixtoen miles apart., 
but we knew of field roads for something like two-thirds of 
the distance, and at Witton-le-Wear we had a ham and eggs 
breakfast at the inn. Thesie long hacks were thought nothing 
of fifty yearsi ago, and for some years my father had beten 
going to Mr. Cradock on occasional Saturdays, sending his 
horse to^ Witton-le-Wear overnight, or else by the early train 
to Crook. He nearly always rode himself, avoiding the train, 
and would pick his horse up either at the meet or at the inn 
at Witton-le-Wear, as we did on this occasion. Of the first 
hunt I only remember that we ran to river banks, and that 
we had a long hack back to the country of the draw, and 
found at (I think) Butterknowle Whin. There was a gretat 
scent, and I have little recollection of how the line went, but 
hounds went on steadily all the afternoon, and when they 
killed their fox large ironworks on the outskirts of Darlington 
seemed to be only a, few fields away. Very few got tO' the 
end of whati was a, very fine hunt, and I have no recollection 
who was " there " and who was not. All I do know is that I 
arrived at Witton-le-Wear at. about seven o'clock, had some- 
thing to eati, and reached Shotley between ten. and eleiven, 
and thati my father, who was a heiavy man, was several hours 
in front of -me. And here I may mention, with all due diffi- 
dence, that it is the really great hunts which live in memory 
from year to year and are never forgotten. W^ith some packs 
which I have followed no big hunt stands out, and I am of 
opinion that when such is the case' no really great hunt 
occurred during my visits. But through the long line of years 
a fair number' of really big hunts stand out like landmarks, 
and I have been fortunate enough to come in for a consider- 
able number of these. For example, in the first big hunt I 
ever got. through, which was from Lord Bute's plantation — 
with the Durham County hounds' — to Brancepeth, I can 
actually remember the line and recollect going through the 


Sawmill Wood at Woodlands, and two or three miles further, 
climbing the steep hill to Cornsay village; while I also 
remember breaking the top rail of a small timber fence 
near the Monkey's Nest, and la,st. of all, hounds running 
down the grassy slopes between High Brandon and Brance- 
peth Castle. Mr. Jolin Harvey gave me the brush on that 
occasion, and I remember my keen disappointment at dis- 
covering it to be a badly mangled and very indifferent piece 
of fox fur. 

So with the Zetland hounds. I have forgotten many days 
that I had with them in the late 'seventies and early 'eighties, 
but 1 have a most powerful recollection of a certain day in 
the winter of 1883 or the following year. Which year this 
hunt took place I cannot say for certain, and can only approxi- 
mately fix the date because I know what horse I was riding. 
Also I think it was midwinter, for there was snow on the high 
ground, snow showers in the air, and an overnight frost. 
The meet was at Greta Bridge, and I think it must have been 
on a Thursday. John Greenwell and I boxed our horses to 
Barnard Castle, and arrived at the meet to find a field of 
not more than twenty, a, most remarkably small field for that 
country, but the weather during the early part of the day 
was atrocious. Anyhow, hounds drew the Rokeby Coverts, 
and a^ lot of foxes were quickly on foot. They stuck to the 
river banks for some time, but at length one went away due 
south, and after a nice little hunt of half an hour or so stuck 
at a, rabbit wire which surrounded a belt of young trees. 
While hounds were breaking him up another fox left the belt, 
and Champion quickly had hounds on. The exact line I do 
not reonember, but we reached Sedbury after a time, and 
Champion thought we changed foxes there. We then went 
near Middleton Tyas, crossed into the Bedale countiry, and 
the fox went to ground in a drain close to Pepper Hall — 
now called Pepper Arden. " John " and I both got to the 
end, but getting back to Barnard Castle was out of the 
question, and on the advice of the late " Billy " rorsteir we 
made for Darlington, stopping at Croft, and wiring to Bar- 
nard Ca&tle for our bags and the horses rugs to be sent to 
Darlington. On reaching the King's Head Hotel wei found 
that to get ourselves and our horses back to Broomshields that 


night was impossible, and as the bags did not arrive until 
late in the evening we had to dine in hunting clothes. We 
were lucky enough to find the latie John Waldy and another 
sportsman, whose name I forget, at the hotel, and lucky also 
to find some old port in fine condition, and the result was that 
after dinner we arranged to have a day with the Bedale on 
the morrow, the man who then had the King's Head yard 
being a letter of hack hunters. Of this Bedale day I have 
no recollection, except that the meet was at Kipling Cot©g, 
and that my horse slipped into a very wet drain, but on the 
Saturday morning we took thei Zetland meet on our way 
home, ridiug the Thursday horses, but had no particular 

This Greta Bridge hunt, especially the latter part, from 
S;dbury to the end, was a very fine one, and a good many 
who had missed the earlier hunting about Rokeby joined in, 
but no great number lasted to the end, though I remember 
that Mr. E. R. Whitwell and Mr. J. B. (now Sir James) 
Dale were there, and about eight or ten others. Another 
Zetland hunt which stands out in my memory took place 
about sixteen years ago. I do not remember the exact date, 
nor where the meet was — possibly Halnaby — but after some 
quiet sport hounds found at Straggleton Gate, and ran west 
towards Uckerby. I had a good start, and was being well 
carried, but after going for a quarter of an hour or so I saw 
that, practically, all the field had disappeared, and I did not 
understand iti, for hounds were going on ahead, over a, big 
grass inolosure, and Champion was close to them. Then I 
saw Champion dodge off on the left to a. gate which went 
under the Richmond railway — hereabouts the /boundary 
between the Zetland and Bedale countries — and heard him 
shout, but I could not hear what he said. There had been 
a good deal of rain during the previous week, and a certain 
amount of flood wateir was standing out in the fields. I had 
been through some, and now there was a patch of water, 
about twenty yards wide, right in front. Hounds splashed 
through, and I pulled up toi a trot, went a few paces into 
the water, when down went, my horse, throwing me well over 
his shoulder. I fell into about six inches of water, and was 
wet through on one side only, and as the horse got up on 


the right side of the concealed brook I waa quickly going 
again. A quarter of a mile further hounds crossed the rail- 
way, and I found a railway crossing close to them, and for 
another ten minutes saw no one. Hounds had bent to the left, 
and suddenly all the field were there, ha,ving cut off a big 
comer. I waa a good deal chaffed for ha,ving taken Uokerby 
Stell when flooded, but the fact waa I had not recognised 
the brook, and had no idea of its presence, for the flood was 
subsiding, and there was no great rush of water down the 
centre of the field. 

Hounds ran on to^ Langton Hall, and, I think, lost their 
fox near the Gardens. They had made a long point, and 
I had to ride back to Darlington, to which place I had boxed 
with the Ma&ter of the Braes of Derwenti in the morning. 
We decided that horses had done enough, and I remember 
riding for two or three miles and then seeing " Darlington, 
17 " on a finger-post. By this time it had begun to freeze, 
and when we arrived at the Station Hotel — where we had a 
change of garments — I opened my coat, and several thin 
sheets of ice dropped on toi the floor. So severe, indeed, was 
the afternoon frost, that even the warmth of my body had 
not prevented my wet clothes from freezing. Another good 
hunt that I saw a year or two later was from Gainford Big 
Wood, in the Tuesday country on the Durham side of the 
Tees, through Raby and Streatlam, to the Whin Co'vert at 
Westwick — close to Barnard Castle — where the fox vanished 
entirely. Scores of quick darts in the Thursday country 
with these hounds have I seen, and I am inclined 
to think that, given suitable weather conditions, this Thurg- 
day conntry is the best in the hunt.. It extends from Croft 
Spa up the river tO' beyond Piercebridge, and south toi the 
Bedale border somewhere near Catterick Bridge, and is for 
the most part a fairly level country, though a little hilly 
on its western side. In this district there is a good deal more 
grass than plough, plenty of small coverts and no very big 
ones, and flying fences everywhere, with a total absence of 
wire. In the Zetland country the absence of wire is one of 
the gi-eatest charms of the district. The question of wire 
was tackled some years ago by Mr. Herbert Straker (the 
Master) during Lord Zetland's mastership, with the result 


that there is practically no wire in the country. There may 
be an odd wired spot, quite close to Darlington, where boy 
trespass must be provided against, but if so the odd strands are 
well known. This Thursday country attracts very big fields at 
ordinary times, for all of it can be reached from Darlington, and 
some years agO' I counted seventy scarlet coats when hounds 
were drawing one of the small coverts on the Halnaby estate. 
I have also' on the same day seen, in addition to^ the Zetland 
field proper, men or women from the Hurworth, Bedale, 
North and South Durham, York and Ainsty, Clevelan.d, 
Tynedale, and Braes of Derwent, and a man who had boxed 
from Appleby in Westmorland, by the Tebay line. There 
may have been men from hunts that are even fiirther distant, 
for it is a simple matter tO' box along the main line from 
York, or from Newcastle-on-Tynei to Darlington. The only 
drawback to- this Thursday country is that parte of it may 
hold a lot of surface water after very heavy rain, and that at 
times it suffers from fog. Indeed, I have gone twice in recent 
years to Zetland meets when fog prevented hunting; but 
this occurs in all flat countries, and occiasionally — but nothing 
like so often — in a hilly country. 

Some Yorkshire and Western Midland Hunts. 

Comparisons are odious, and I have no desire to praise 
one hunting country at the expense of another. I have, 
however, received a letter from a sportsman (who does not 
wish his identity to be revealed) pointing out that I have 
given more praise to the Tynedale country than I have to 
the Zetland, which — ^in his opinion — is the better country of 
the two. My correspondent does not point out exactly how 
I have given him this impression, and I myself cannot find 
anything I have written which seems to convey such an idea, 
but I have had more to say about the Tynedale than of the 
famous Yorkshire-Durham hunt for the simple reason that I 
know the former country better, and have over a long period 
of years hunted in it much more frequently than in the Zet- 
land country. For example, I have never been in the western 
part of the Zetland Monday country, and for many years 
have seldom seen the pack except in the Thursday country, 
or fairly close to Darlington, on the north side of the Tees. 
But the fact is that opinions differ enormously as to the merits 
of hunting countries, and many people form their opinions 
quite regardless of the true properties of a country from a 
purely hunting standpoint. My correspondent's complaints 
as to the Tynedale country is that the banks and stone walls 
are, from a rider's point of view, less desirable than the fly 
fences in the Zetland hunt, and also that in the accounts of 
great hunts of a former period (which were sent to me from 
various correspondents) there is too much mention of running 
on to the moors. My own opinion, which is no better than 
that of any man who takes careful note of any hunting country 
he may be in, is that both countries are far above the average 



from almost every point of view, that both, are, indeed, excep- 
tionally good ; but, because they are not in the least like each 
other, they — somewhat naturally, perhaps — rather invite com- 
parison. As regards the preponderance of grass over arable 
land, the Tynedale has much the best of it, and except in 
the south-east corner of the country, or in the Tyne valley, 
you may hunt for a month without crossing a ploughed field. 
The Zetland, on the other hand, has a considerable amount of 
plough in all the eastern side of the country, but I am inclined 
to think that even where there is most mixed farming the grass 
is in the ascendant. In the western part of the hunt this is 
certainly the case, and it must be remembered that the valley 
of the Tees is one of the most valuable grazing grounds in the 
kingdom. It is a part of the original home of the Short- 
horn, and very much of it is sound old pasture of the very 
best kind. As regards the fences, you can jump from field to 
field almost all over the Zetland country, but the stone wall is 
by no means unknown in the higher-lying part of the hunt. 
Fly fences are everywhere on the east side of the country, 
whereas in the Tynedale the obstacles are for the most part 
" banks," which the clever hunter does in on and off fashion, 
or stone walls — often with a sheep rail on the top, or in later 
days a strand of wire. The invitation fence is now a common 
object in the Tynedale hunt, and I am inclined to think that 
in the last-named country there are fewer coverts, and those 
farther apart than in the Zetland. Both hunts maintain not 
only a high standard of sport, but an equally high standard 
of management. Every detail in v;hat may be called the art 
of maintaining and hunting a country is most carefully con- 
sidered, and, in fact, both hunts are strictly orthodox models 
of what a high-class hunt should be. 

As regards running on to the moors it appears to be the 
fact that in some of those great runs with the Tynedale the 
moors were reached, but these were undoubtedly exceptional 
oases, probably due to the fact that hounds were hunting a 
travelling fox who had been found far away from his moorland 
home. Personally, in all my visits to the Tynedale, I have 
never seen hounds on the heather, but with the North Durham 
a.nd the Braes of Derwent I have known many foxes go 
to the moors, especially in the month of Janudnry, and I have 


also noticed that in some seasons hounds will constantly travel 
to the neighbourhood of the moors, while at other times the 
whole season will be got through without a single visit to the 
moors. I have seen the Zetland on the moors south of Wol- 
singham on many occasions some years ago, and many years 
ago I saw the Bedale reach the moors very quickly from the 
coverts at Studley Royal. The fact is that the backbone of 
England, extending from the Scottish border to as far south 
as Cannock Chase, is almost entirely moorland through its 
centre and highest parts, and where there are hunts on either 
side of this backbone hounds will naturally be there at times. 
But in all the hunts I have written about there is no real 
moorland hunting, as in the Border country, and if hounds go 
on to the heather it is because they are following a fox. And, 
curiously enough, when this does occur foxes seldom go far 
when once the heather is reached, but twist back to the ordi- 
nary country — which close to the moors is almost invariably 
rough pasture land. It may be that an odd fox will make 
for a certain refuge that he knows of, and I can recollect that 
in one or two seasons the Braes of Derwent ran several foxes 
to ground in some rocks, which were on the open moor at a 
farm named Lamb Sheilds, and just about a mile from the 
beginning of the moor. These rocks, I may add. are not more 
than a mile and a half from a large and important covert, 
which is drawn about once in three weeks, and I can truly 
aflfirm that not one in twenty of the many foxes found there 
goes towards the moors — since the head of earths just referred 
to were walled up. In all probability foxes do not care about 
travelling through the heather, and cannot go so fast through 
it as hounds can; they (the foxes) stick to the burnt places, 
sheep paths, and cart tracks when possible, and will, as far 
as my experience goes, avoid all the stronger growing heather. 
At various times I have seen all the Yorkshire packs in 
the field except the Badsworth, the Goathland, and the Eils- 
dale. The Bedale I have seen at odd times, chiefly in their 
Friday country, and, a.b confirmation of how opinions as to the 
merits of hunting countries vary, I may mention how I heard 
a man affirm not long ago that the Bedale was much the best 
of the Yorkshire countries, and far superior to the Zetland. 
It may be, for all I know, for I have only seen small portions 

N 2 


of it, but I liked what I have seen, and my recollections of 
the hunt go back to the mastership of Mr. John Booth, in 
the 'seventies, but I was never lucky enough to fall in for 
a really good hunt. About the same period I saw the Hur- 
worth on many Saturdays, when the late Lord Londonderry 
(then Lord Castlereagh) was master. During one winter I 
was at Croft during many " week-ends," and hunting with 
the Hurworth naturally came in my way, and what I rode were 
mostly thoroughbreds from the Croft stud, which at that time 
was owned by Mrs. Winteringham and her son " Johnny," 
who provided me with several mounts, most of them very 
curiously behaved, tail foremost brutes. One of these was a 
barren brood mare, who could gallop in great form, but when 
she arrived at a fence she would either go straight through 
it without rising or would whip round and bolt. After riding 
this mare I used to come home with half a dozen thorns stick- 
ing in my legs. The York and Ainsty I first saw during 
Colonel Fairfax's mastership, coming by train from Darling- 
ton, with John Greenwell. The meet was at Sessay, and our 
slow train arrived long before hounds were due, but several 
of the York contingent had also arrived by train, and the wait- 
ing-room was besieged by a crowd who clamoured for a fire on 
an extremely cold morning. I mention this merely to let 
the present generation know the difl&culties hunting people 
had to contend with forty years ago, if they attended a distant 
meet by train. No doubt at an earlier period hacks would 
have been requisitioned for such a disitanoe, but when the rail- 
ways came they were, naturally enough, taken advantage of by 
both horses and their owners. But there were few, 
if any, hunting specials in those days, and horses 
were only allowed on the slowest stop-at-all-stations train. 
It happened also that there were very early morning 
trains on most of the branch lines, and, for example, 
when hunting from Shotley with any of the packs in 
the Darlington distiict, one had to leave a sta,tion named 
Blackhill — two miles from Shotley — before seven in the morn- 
ing, and after reaching Darlington there w£is at least an hour 
for breakfast before it was necessary to leave for the meet. 
Now, the York and Ainsty country is the most irregular as 
regards conformation of any in the kingdom. To give some 
idea of its length, it may be explained that the Great Northern 


and North-Eastern main line to Edinburgh enters it 
south of Selby — I believe the river Aire divides it 
from the Badsworth — and leaves it a mile or two south 
of Thirsk. It must be nearly forty miles from its 
most southern to its most northern point, and in 
places, more especially near York, it is very narrow indeed. 
Lord Middleton meets at the " Fourth Milestone, Stockton 
Forest," which is, as the name suggests, four miles out of York 
on the north-east, and the Bramham Moor come to within 
about half a dozen miles of the city on the west. It will be 
understood, then, that members of the York and Ainsty hunt 
who attend as many meets as possible had — and still have — 
to use the train very freely as a covert hack. 

Now, in normal times, of course — the motor is doubtless 
greatly used, but at the time I am writing of the early morning 
trains did duty, and as Sessay was not far from twenty miles 
from York, all the York contingent went there by train. 
North-west of Y'ork the York and Ainsty country includes a 
large district between the Bedale and the Bramham Moor 
countries, which goes a long way west, up the Nidd Valley, 
ajid contains a wild sporting country adjoining the moors. 
This part of the hunt, broadly speaking, lies between Knares- 
borough and Ripon, and must be at least forty miles from the 
Selby district of the same hunt. The Ainsty proper is south 
of York, and here, too, the country widens out to the Holder- 
ness border. I only once had a day in that district, where 
hounds had a brilliant forty minutes, but the going was 
terribly deep, and I never remember seeing so many beaten 
horses in one hunt. I imagine that Melbourne country is 
always deep in wet weather, but when I was there a heavy 
fall of snow had just disappeared, and the going was worse 
than usual. 

I have mislaid or lost a number of old diaries and cuttings 
— chiefly from local newspapers — and therefore I am unable 
to give dates, but on one of my few visits to the York and 
Ainsty country I remember a curious thing. It was in the 
Easingwold district, and hounds had hunted a fox well for 
the best part of an hour, when they ran, with a fine cry, into 
a not very large spinney of old trees. The field came up, 
and in a minute or two there was silence in the covert. Every- 
one thought the fox had been killed, and huntsman and 


whippers-in disappeared into tlie covert. Five minutes passed, 
and the field rode round to the far side, thinking the huntsman 
had taken out the fox to break him up. Then suddenly the 
huntsman appeared, cast his hounds all round the covert, 
but could not hit off his fox. Then there was a consultation 
among the authorities, and it transpired that hounds had 
thrown up in the centre of the covert, and could make nothing 
more of it. Orders to draw another place were given, and 
the cavalcade moved off, but before a quarter of a mile had 
been covered there came a ringing view holloa from the covert 
which had just been left. Hounds were rushed back, and as 
the holloas were from inside hounds were taken in. What 
they found was that the late Mr. J. H. Greaves, of Sutton on 
the Forest, had viewed the fox quite twenty feet up a tree, 
and he (the fox) had reached his security through running 
up the trunk of a falleii tree which was resting against the 
sound one. Someone climbed the tree, the fox dropped down, 
then another, and, I think, a third, but I will not trust my 
memory beyond a brace of foxes. Anyhow, one was killed, 
and a second gave another hunt, and examination revealed 
the fact that by jumping some five feet on to a suspended 
branch, foxes had a fine ladder which took them into security, 
and from the marks on this ladder it was plain that it had 
been in use for long enough. All hunting people know that 
tree-climbing foxes are by no means uncommon. 

The first I ever saw came from a willow by the side of a 
brook in the Heythrop country, and the fox — or at all events 
one from the same place — I saw hunted twice in the same 
season. But the bowl where the fox curled up at the top of 
an old cut willow was not more than eight feet above the 
ground, and this is about the usual height for a tree-fox. The 
York and Ainsty fox was, however, quite twenty feet above 
the ground, and was the only fox I ever knew of who did 
the ladder trick. "When the late Mr. John Clavering was 
living at Greencroft in the county of Durham I once went 
there for a day's rook shooting at the end of May. Mr. 
Clavering did not hunt, but was a fine fox preserver and before 
we began on the rooks he told me he could show me a litter 
of cubs. I knew all the Greencroft coverts well, as I fre- 
quently shot there, and had seen them drawn by hounds scores 


of times, but I knew of no earth where I was likely to see cubs, 
and was slightly incredulous. But the keeper piloted us into 
the Tower Wood, the largest covert on the estate, and in a 
quarter which had been newly planted, and through which 
we crept very quietly, were three or four cubs playing round 
a tree. After a minute or two they disappeared, and the 
keeper showed us a young spruce fir which had grown in 
width, but not in height. It spread out fan-shape, and close 
to the top in a very sheltered position about four feet from 
the ground, the litter had been reared. In that particular 
part of the country a very big majority of the litters of foxes 
are bom and brought up below the earth, and though I have 
known of vixens having their cubs above ground in the depths 
of a strong gorse covert the fox born in the open is probably 
as scarce in the north as the stub-bred fox is common in the 
south of England. 

Owing to various circumstances which need not be explained, 
because they would not be interesting to the reader, it was 
my good fortune when a boy to see odd days of sport in various 
parts of the country during Christmas or Easter holidays. 
With me, when visiting any place away from home, my instant 
desire was to see something of the neighbouring hunt, and 
I have recollections of an Easter vacation spent in the Isle 
of Wight, when I had several days with the Isle of Wight 
Foxhounds; of a Christmas visit to Hastings, when for about 
a month I hunted with the East Sussex; and also of being 
in Penzance one Easter time, when I saw the Western in the 
field. The Isle of Wight hunting I remember little about, 
beyond the fact that I had a fall and came down in a bed 
of nettles, which was a most irritating experience. The East 
Sussex I saw — I think — in the last year of Mr. H. M. Curteis's 
mastership, and my recollections are chiefly of biggish wood- 
lands and a great deal of timber jumping. I became familiar 
with the Sussex " heave " gate, which is to be found in this 
and adjoining countries, and I remember being knocked over 
at a fence by a groom on a runaway roan; but I cannot call 
to mind that I saw any hunt of exceptional merit, and there 
were fewer foxes than I was accustomed to see found with 
the northern packs I had hunted with. The Western country, 
at least that part which I saw, was very bleak and wild, and 


all the jumping stone walls; but I thought everything about 
the hunt was suggestive of enthusiasm, and, in fact, that sport 
was the great desideratum of the whole establishment. There 
was none of that easy-going apparent indifference that was 
rather characteristic in some of the hunts of the 'sixties, no 
smartly turned-out " swells," as they were then called, no 
second horses that I can remember, but an all-round strict 
attention to business. I saw this Western pack twice, and 
enjoyed myself amazingly, and I have always been glad to 
notice at the beginning of each season that the country is 
still hunted by members of the Bolitho family. 

After I left school I was for two whole hunting seasons 
at Malvern, and during that time I managed to get about 
seven days a fortnight, and saw many packs of hounds. The 
countries immediately surrounding Malvern were rather differ- 
ently constituted to what they now are. There was no North 
Ledbury, no North Cotswold, and the boundaries of the 
Croome and Worcestershire were somewhat differently 
arranged. Indeed, the Croome country was then " Lord 
Coventry's," and the Worcestershire came quite close to Mal- 
vern, on the east side, hunting country, which now 
belongs to the Croome. The district I have in mind is 
the flat country between the Malvern hills and the river Severn 
and the country round Cotteridge. These belonged to the 
Worcestershire when I went to Malvern in 1870, and the late 
Lord Queensberry was Master of the pack, and then as great 
a daredevil on horseback as I ever saw. In the following 
season Mr. H. Allsopp was Master, and I saw one or two 
capital hunts on the east side of the Severn in the country 
north of Worcester. Fields with this pack were of fair size, 
and much of the country very good riding ground, and I 
formed the opinion that most of the country carried a good 
scent. There was a good deal of plough in some parts of the 
country, and I have been told that much of it has been laid 
down to grass; but it is fifty years since I siaw houndsi in 
Worcestershire. As it happened, I went much more 
frequently to the Ledbury than to the Worcesteirshirs. 
It is all so long ago that I have only to trust to memory, 
but I imagine that the Ledbury had more near meets to 
Malvern than the Worcestershire or Lord Coventry's, and 


there are hills in the Ledbury country, and I was accustomed 
to hills. Auybow, though the country may be no better, 
the Ledbury suited me best, and I saw a lot of first- 
rate sport in it, for a short time under Mr. F. M. Talbot, 
but chiefly during Mr. Charles Morrell's mastership, and my 
first appearance with this pack was most unpropitious. I had 
hired a mare who looked like a hunter, but had probably 
never seen hounds before. She bucked, kicked, and reared, 
and after a time came down through losing her balance when 
rearing. Boys, however, are not very particular, and a gallop 
soon brought her to a more amicable state of mind. But she 
galloped into her fences, and gave me a lot of falls, until I 
gave her a proper jumping education, after which she became 
a useful mount. About this time I bought the first horse I 
ever owned — a black mare, very well bred, and said to have 
beem by an Arab sire. 1 was a light weight then, and this 
mare carried me well, being a bold, free jumper, fairly fast, 
and a rare one to get through a really long day. I shall never 
forget the style in which she jumped a gate the first day I 
rode her. I fancy I had never been over a proper five-barred 
gate before, and I do not think I had any intention of jump- 
ing one; but hounds were hunting in Bosbury Wood, and the 
field were inside the covert when they went away. We all 
galloped down a ride, and the first man to reach the gate 
shouted out that it was locked, pulled his horse back, put him 
at it, and got over with a scramble. My mare pricked her 
ears, and showed signs of wanting to follow. So I let her go, 
and she got over quite clear. Whether anyone else came I do 
not remember, but we two v/ere by ourselves for ten minutes, 
and then came a big orchard, and in those days I used to 
think the orchards were the only great nuisance of the Led- 
bury country, which is, I need hardly write, a great apple 
and pear growing district. On almost every farm 
there is an orchard, some of them very large, and 
nearly all of them close to the house and farm build- 
ings. Asi far as my experience goes, there was, almost 
invariably, a large entrance gate to the orchard, close to the 
farm, but frequently no exit, except perhaps a very awkward 
stile. Why the obstruction, then? I may be asked, and the 


answer is that in many cases the boughs of the fruit trees 
were trained along the top of the fence, leaving no place where 
jumping was practicable. I have occasionally found myself 
inside one of these orchards, with no road out, even for a bold- 
jumping horse, and after a time, if hounds crossed an orchard^ 
I always went round, and this most certainly saved ground in 
the long run. The late Mr. Arkwright, of Hampton Court 
(Herefordshire), who was Master of the North Herefordshire 
at the time I am writing about, was the best man I ever saw at 
crossing those orchards. Probably he knew the country well, 
for if one followed him into an orchard, there was always a way 
out, though it might^ — and generally did — involve an awkward 

The Ledbury country always struck me as containing rich 
land, and much of it carried a rare scent. The best part 
of the country from a riding point of view was on the 
Gloucester side, where the Ledbury joins the Berkeley Hunt, 
and such meets as the Canning Arms were the most popular 
in my day. This part of the country contains a lot of grass, 
and is not so- hilly as the country ronnd Ledbury, and I have 
a recollection of a youngster mounted for the day by a friend 
jumping a pair of raihvay gates, and the owner of the horse 
selling him for a large sum immediately afterwards. The loan 
horse had pounded the field, and some time afterwards, when 
forces were joined up, the rider quietly confided to me that he 
had not had the least intention of jumping the gates, but had 
been run away with, and had just managed to keep his seat. 
At times on the north side of the Ledbury country the field 
fifty years ago^ would not exceed a couple of dozen, and 
my recollection is that fifty was quite a big number for 
thei Ledbury district, while on the Gloucester side of the 
country there would be nearly double that number. I have 
in mind, too, that hounds only hunted about five days a fort- 
night, that the hunt establishment was a very small one, and 
that Mr. Morrell, who was his own huntsman, hunted hounds 
on the silent system, nothing being heard but an occasional 
whistle when a fox was viewed. In the Ledbury district there 
were several big woodlands, notably Eastnor; but there was 
not a strand of wire in the whole country when I was there, 
and I never saw or knew of a blank day. But I had some 


terribly long rides to covert on the Gloucester side, and one 
extraordinary hunt, of which I have certain very vivid recol- 
lections. It was towards the end of January, and there had 
been a severe frost, the sort of frost which prompts Masters 
to advertise " The first open day at the kennels." This 
had been in the papers more than a week when the thaw began. 
But the frost went slowly, and I rode at least twice to the 
kennels before the Master thought it fit to hunt. Then there 
came a day of sunshine, and hounds were taken to a not 
very big woodland about twelve o'clock. There were only 
seven or eight riders all told, and hounds were quickly away 
with a fox, and ran to a gorse covert — Cowarne Gorse, if I 
remember rightly — in the North Herefordshire country. Here 
it was thought that we changed, but there was no delay, 
and hounds ran on hard to Stoke Edith in the South 
Herefordshire country. Here the Master tried to stop them, 
a.& it wasi getting late and hounds were a long way from home 
and the going dangerous. But it was one of those days of 
burning scent, and hounds would not be denied. In fact, they 
" got away on us," as they say in Ireland, and ran right to 
the river Wye, where they killed their fox quite close to Holme 
Lacy. This was a great hunt, and only the Master, the late 
Dr. Sheward, of Malvern Wells, and I were ever in it after 
the first quarter of an hour, and we all lasted to the end. The 
pace was fastest in the middle, and slowest in the last hour; 
but even then it was impossible on tired horses to get near 
enough to stop hounds, who were beating us all day. We did 
manage to keep them in sight, and at times were on good terms 
with them for quite a long period; but we lost them momen- 
tarily at Stoke Edith, and were put right out by some wag- 
goners, who shouted like maniacs. What the exact point of 
this hunt was I have never been able to determine, because 
I am not sure where the hunt commenced. I have thought 
at times it was Bosbury Wood, but then, again, I have an idea 
that it was a smaller spinney quite close to Ledbury. An}-- 
how, it was one of the three or four greatest hunts I ever saw, 
and thirty years after Mr. Morrtll tcld ' me that it was the 
longest hunt he was ever in during his mastership, either of 
the Ledbury, the Worcestershire, or the South Oxfordshire. 
Early in this hunt Mr. Morrell and I both came down through 


the giving way of a little bank on to which we jumped. The 
fence was not a big one., but there was a deep ditch below, 
brimming over with water as a result of the thaw, and the 
ground beyond was rotten. I fell clear, but the Master's 
horse slipped back into the ditch, and on getting out stood 
and kicked. Mr. Morrell got up, when the horse kicked so 
violently that he got off, and I saw that something was wedged 
under the saddle behind. The saddle was removed, and quite 
a large piece of gorse that had been forced under it taken out. 
Then we went on, half a mile behind hounds ; but the country 
was open, and we were able to catch them by cutting off a 

Though it hag notliin;? to do with foxhunting, I may per- 
haps be allowed to refer to another branch of sport, at which 
I assisted during my sojourn at Malvern, and which was, in 
its way, quite unique. The sport in question was rat-catch- 
ing, and some readers will remember that one of Surtees' 
best characters, Lord Scamperdale, was first entered to rat- 
catching with ferrets, as a prelude to his foxhunting educa- 
tion. In another place the same author writes of a hunts- 
man having " a deal of rat-catching cunning," and as far 
as my experience goes the best amateur rat-catchers I ever met 
were foxhunters, and tiie cleverest of these a professional 
huntsman. It is the case that rats invariably haunt a fox- 
hound kennel, being tempted by the flesh, and it results that 
hunt servants have the chance of plenty of this kind of sport. 
There was no huntsman concerned in the experience I am 
going to relate, but a most enthusiastic foxhunter, not much 
older than I was, but of very ripe experience in various forms 
of sport. In going to hunt or in coming home my friend had 
noticed a certain very desolate rickyard, and at the first 
opportunity we made an inspection of the place. The locality 
I need not specify exactly, but the farm was at no great dis- 
tance from the river Severn, and the landlord, who lived else- 
where, was an eccentric, who, for some reason I never heard, 
had not had the stacks in this particular yard threshed for 
some years. The place was, as far as my recollection goes, 
quite away from any farm-house and village; if there were 
buildings near the rickyard there was no one living in them; 
but several acres were covered with stacks, all in a state of 


dilapidation. The oldest of the lot were sunken masses of 
blackened straw, and had long been left by the rats; the newer 
ones were still fairly respectable, but what may be called the 
intervening lot — probably from two to four years old — were 
literally riddled with rats, and as we sat on horseback, look- 
ing at them, rats were running about the yards by dozens. 
We heard, probably from someone living not far from this 
curious place, that the owner objected tO' " trespass in pur- 
suit of rats " almost as much as he did to having his stacks 
threshed ; but we were not going to give up the idea of what 
appeared tOi offer a most promising chance of rat-hunting, and 
my friend, after a great deal of trouble, obtained the neces- 
sary leave. Shortly afterwards there was a severe frost, and 
many days were spent on the lake at Eastnor Castle, for it 
was not an easy business to organise such a hunt as w© had 
in contemplation, while we were both living in rooms — lodg- 
ings they were then called — at Malvern, and had no ferrets, 
and only one really trustworthy terrier, a Scottie, by name 
Francis, and on whom my friend (his owner) set great store. 

Further inquiries were made, and these resulted in our 
getting into touch with a curious ancient who lived on the 
Ledbury side of the country. This man was a rabbit-catcher 
by profession, and had been an under gamekeeper, and, 
though about seventy years old, was both active and keen. 
He engaged tO' be at Malvern early one morning with ferrets 
and terriers, and there we loaded up on a dogcart, sitting 
ourselves in front, and well do I remember that the hireling 
we drove was terribly slow, and the drive in the severe frost 
one of the coldest I ever remember. And the day was a 
failure, too; the five or six ferrets we had brought with us 
would not face the huge number of rats in the most thickly 
populated stacks, and the terriers we had borrowed were not 
very good. We tried stack after stack, but the ferrets kept 
coming out as fast as we shoved them in, and the climax came 
when, in swiping at a rat, I hit Francis on the side of his 
head (he had come from behind me) and knocked him out. 
Luckily he was not much worse, and soon came round ; but 
his owner was terribly distressed, for Francis was a dog who 
refused friendship — even acquaintanceship — with anyone but 
his real master, and was a wonder at rats. By this time we 


decided that our tactics were of little use, for our presence 
kept the rats inside, and the ferrets could not turn them 
out. Somewhat sorrowfully we departed, with a bag of some- 
thing under fifty rats ; but we had found out how success might 
be achieved, and a certain day, about a week later, was fixed 
for a second attempt. The idea now was to bring a whole 
army of ferrets and shake them out on the top of one of the 
liveliest stacks, and our ancient — I think his name was Grimes 
— undertook to obtain over a score of ferrets within the next 
few days. Luckily, the old man was as good as his word, 
for he appeared on the appointed day with a sack full of bor- 
rowed ferrets, and various other cherished ones in ferret bags 
and in his pockets. The frost had gone, and the weather was 
genial, and I think, though I am not quite sure, that we 
had another man with a better lot of terriers. Anyhow, the 
sport was vastly better. A certain stack was first chosen, and 
someone climbed to the top, which was not very high, and 
shook out the main body of the ferrets from a sack. Then 
for a few minutes there was an extraordinary scene, for after 
a minute or two the rats began to bolt, literally by the dozen. 
In fact, they came far too fast, and in too many places, 
hundreds escaping the terriers and sticks. Still, a fair number 
were killed, the ferrets this time having all the best of the 
fighting. After this stack was finished we went to another, 
and continued operations until both ferrets and terriers were 
" done," and when we counted up we had, as far as my 
memory goes, some 300 dead rats laid out on the ground. It 
was, in fact, a great day's sport., and, I feel certain, a most 
unusual one. 

To go back to foxhunting, I have had a long letter from 
Mr. Baron Webster, who puts me right on the subject of 
how the country was hunted forty-five years ago on the east 
side of IMalvern. Mr. Webster says that at the date referred 
to the North Cot&wold did exist, but was known as Lord 
Coventry's, the country then hunted by that nobleman, and 
resigned by him to Mr. Rushout in 1873, having no connec- 
tion with the! present Croome, that was known as " Lord 
Coventry's " from 1873 until his lordship's retirement in 
1882. What I said was that the Croome country was then 
Lord Coventry's, and, according to Baily's Hunting Directory, 


" Lord Coventry founded the hunt (the Croome) in the 
year 1887." That it (the Croome) was practically the same 
hunt as the North Cotswold at the date I was writing about 
I did not state ; but I said that the Worcestershire came quite 
close to Malvern on the east side " between the Malvern hills 
and the River Severn." This Mr. Webster confirms, saying: 
" The Worcestershire hunted all the country now covered by 
that pack and the Croome," and the boundary between the 
Worcestershire and Ledbury, so far as Great Malvern is 
concerned, was, I take it, the Worcester road, in which stands 
the Belle Vue Hotel, where the Ledbury used to meet once 
a year." He then goes on to state that Lord Coventry 
brought his hounds to Croome in 1873 under an arrangement 
with the Worcestershire, which in time became permanent. 
Mr. Webster then explains how the North Ledbury is a 
modern institution, subsidiary, he believes, to the present 
pack, the country sill existing as a whole. This is generally 
understood, and 1 did not allude to it, but merely said there 
was no North Ledbury. Mr. Webster adds that the institu- 
tion of the North Ledbury shows very clearly the enormous 
increase in the popularity of foxhunting, and this particular 
case I have frequently referred to in cither writings, when 
attempting to show how greatly foxhunting increased between 
my earliest days and the period before the war. The letter 
then goes on to state that, whereas the Ledbury country was 
hunted three days a week — not two, as I stated — in 1870, the 
two packs between them at times have done eight days a week, 
while Mr. Browne, of Hall Court, had his pack on the borders, 
hunting country loaned from other hunts. Mr. Webster goes 
further into the early history of the hunt, but I have not 
space to give his letter in full, and may pass on to his remark 
that " when Mr. Talbot retired in 1871 the country was at 
a very low ebb, but Mr. Morrell came on the scene at a critical 
moment, and was a glorious success." It was this success, 
or at least a part of it, that I was lucky enough to come in 
for, for I remember that, the sport shown wag uniformly good 
whilst I was in that neighbourhood. Mr. Webster does not 
remember Mr. Morrell hunting hounds on the silent system, 
and says he took his hounds to a holloa. But as far as I 
remember he and his men had whistles — for a time at all 


events — and there was far less holloaing and noise than there 
is with other packs. One would like to hear what any other 
veteran of the Ledbury country remembers in this connec- 
tion, for it is an interesting point. In conclusion, Mr. 
Webster says a good word for Malvern as a hunting centre, 
and I am in very cordial agreement with him as to this. It 
was good enough with many hunting days in the week when I 
knew it, and it is better now, with a new pack in existence 
and more days among the old packs. 

Mr. Twinberrow, Master of the North Ledbury, writes as to 
the actual facts with regard to the North Ledbury country. 
He says that the country in question has now nothing what- 
ever to do with the Ledbury, that he built the kennels at his 
own expense on his own property, and that the hounds — all 
of them home bred — are his own property. Mr. Twinberrow, 
in fact, hunts the North Ledbury country very much at his 
own expense, for the outside subscription is a small one, which 
will only pay a very small part of the cost of maintenance. 
Some half-dozen seasons ago Mr. Twinberrow killed twenty- 
four and a half brace of foxes, and this for a two days a week 
pack — with occasional bye-days — is wonderfully good for any 
country, and it means that when the North Ledbury was a part 
of the Ledbury proper, hounds only went there once a week and 
seldom killed more than four or five brace during the season 
in that particiilar district, whereas they now kill about five 
times the number. Mr. Twinberrow went out with Mr. 
Charles Morrell when a lad, and has no recollection of whistles 
being used by the staff. Mr. Twinberrow also confirms the 
statement that Malvern was at one time a popular hunting 
centre, but of late years very few people have hunted from 
there, though a meet anywhere near always brings out a lot 
of very keen people on foot. He further remarks that there 
has always been a lot of holloaing about the hills round 
Malvern when hounds were running, but that half the 
pleasure of a man on foot is to view a fox and holloa him. 
This I can very thoroughly confirm, and I may add that 
in recent years the number of foot foxhunters has 
enormously increased all over the country. In some districts, 
especially in a hilly country, where many coigns of vantage 
can be found, the number of regular pedestrian foxhunters 


is very considerable, and when hounds meet near a town, 
or a large village, the number is greatly increased. Per- 
sonally, I know of individuals who walk long distances to 
far-away meets, and follow hounds as best they can through- 
out the day, and when hunting near a mining population I 
have seen the hilltops literally black with people during the 
early part of the day. The Pytchley, when near Northamp- 
ton, always attracts a crowd, as does the Atherstone when 
meeting neat Nuneaton. The fact is, that in scores of country 
districts foxhunting on foot is an exceedingly popular form 
of relaxation, and by no means confined to the sterner sex, 
for — especially since the short skirt came in — many ladies ala> 
folloAV hounds on foot. I am writing of prei-war dayg, but 
even since the war certain people in the country take their 
relaxatioin when following hound si on foot, and hospital nursee, 
and war workers of many varieties, were seien at the coveirt- 
side during the four years of hostilities. Of regular foot fol- 
lowers!, the greatesti dearth I have ever known was in Essex 
some twenty years agoi. One might, notice a few people on foot 
at a meet, but I do not remember any regular followers, 
and I have seen fox, hounds, and field pass farm labourers 
at work without causing them even to turn their heads. The 
Malvern hills are a grand vantage ground for the pedestrian 
foxhunter; but if there is a scent, the. North Ledbuiy, so 
I understand, are not in the least disturbed by holloas, and 
do not leave the fox they are running. I was almost omitting 
to mention that Mr. Twinberrow has " spotted " the place 
where the rat hunt (de^scribed a pag'e or twoi back) took place, 
but it is hardly worth while to give the name ol the farm. 

Another letter, from Mr. W. Pitt, of the White House, 
Canon Frome, refers to the great run with the Ledbury 
which I have mentioned. Mr. Pitt writes that he 
remembeirs that run as though it were yeisiterday, and has 
often told the story of it. He begins that " he was only 
a young chap riding a rough cob, and did not push on much, 
therefore would not have been noticed." He then says that 
hounds found at Paunceford, a 20-acre covert, near the Great 
Western Railway, and about two miles from the kennels. In 
my account I said that I was unable to determine where the 
hunt began, that I thought it was either as Bosbury Wood 



or at a smaller spinney near Ledbury. Mr. Pitt goes on to 
say that hounds ran by Canon Frome, Stretton, and to 
Cowarne Gorse (this place I mentioned), then turned left of 
Cowarne Big Wood, and by Ode Court to Westhide Gorse, and 
over a nice vale country to Stoke Edith. He then mentions 
a long string of woodlands, and observes that he always 
thought they changed foxes at Stoke Edith. As well as I 
recollect, Mr. Morrell thought so, too; but some men in charge 
of wood waggons — to whom I referred in my account of the 
run — had seen the fox we were then hunting close at hand, 
and from what they said the fox they saw was black and 
dirty. Mr. Pitt says hounds then went through Haughwood 
(1,000 acres), and this woodland I remember, also that I 
thought it a part of the Stoke Edith coverts. We next crossed 
Fownhope Park, and here Mr. Pitt remembefrs watching 
hounds feather the line down to the river Wye. He infers 
that hounds crossed the river hereabouts, and says we had 
to go a quarter of a mile to the right to cross at Holme Lacy 
bridge, and that hounds killed their fox at Holme Lacy. I 
had, therefore, the three chief points of the run — viz., 
Co\\arne, Stoke Edith, and Holme Lacy — correct, and I know 
I am correct in saying that the pace was fastest in the middle 
of the hunt — between Cowarne and Stoke Edith — and slowest 
from the last-named j^lace to the river. Anyhow, it was a 
great hunt, and even now I cannot give the point, for Paunce- 
ford is not to be found in my map of Herefordshire. 

Mr. Pitt follows on with some account of the veterans of 
the Ledbury who were hunting when I was at Malvern, 
mentioning Dr. Shev/ard and his two old mares, one lop- 
eared and the other " a grey stargazer that was fed on old 
wliite peas." They were a wonderful trio, the Doctor and 
these two mares. Both the latter were almost, if not quite, 
thoroughbred, and the Doctor certainly was, while he was 
such a light weight that his mares had very little to carry. 
" Old John Newman," of the Hill Farm, Cradley, who died 
some eight or ten 3'^ears ago at the age of ninety-two, is also 
referred to, and Messrs. Wynnall, of Dymock, Dr. Wood, Dr. 
Tanner, and others. Mr. Pitt having lived all his life in the 
Ledbury country, of course, knows it well, and he sends me an 
amusing account of a hunt breakfast which took place at 


Mr. Morrell's house, and which was followed by a foot race 
between two members of the hunt. He asks if I remember 
this, and I certainly do remember the talk and chaff about 
the match — which was for £10 — but I was not present. 
Curiously enough, I did once see a foot race between a Master 
of hounds and his huntsman, at the end of a day's hunting 
in spring. And, more curiously, I was on my way home 
from hunting with another pack, who had finished a fair run 
witli a kill barely a couple of miles from where this race took 
place. Several of us "were coming home together, and as we 
carae down a steep hill there was an old-fashioned country 
inu, at the cross-roads immediately below us. In the field 
alongside there appeared to be an unusual stir for such a 
quiet place, and we found that the Master and huntsman 
of the neighbouring pack had had a difference of opinion as 
to which could beat the other on foot. They had, it appeared, 
raced half-way across a heavy ploughed field for a fox (out- 
side a wood, from which there was no egress when it was 
wanted, and where they had left their horses) some time 
before, and ever since the question as to which of the two 
was quickest on his legs had been disputed. The flat field 
at the country inn gave them a nice trial ground, and we 
arrived just as the huntsman had beaten his Master over a 
fifty yards course. 

o 2 

Long Points and the Heythrop. 

It is perhaps a little curious in these days, when hunting 
is almost everywhere conducted on strictly orthodox lines, 
that such things as foot races could he in any way associated 
with a day's foxhunting, but in out-of-the-way, or perhaps 
i should say unfashionable, countries people were not so strict 
nearly two generations ago aa they arei now, and I alsoi remem- 
ber O'ue hunt finishing a two-hours' run in th.e gardens of a 
large country house about 1.30, that the owner of the house 
came out and invited all who' were therei to lunch, that the 
horses were stabled, and hounds put' into a, loose box, and that 
something like an hour was spent in festivity before horse and 
hound were again requisitioned. 

The question of long " points " is one which crops up from 
time to time, and, writing from my own experience, I am 
inclined to believe that there were, on the whole, more long 
points in very early hunting days than there now are. Still, I 
am not quite soi sure of this as I was a few years ag'o, for th.© 
simple reason that during the four or five seasons immediatiely 
preceding the war I saw a very considerablei number of fair 
hunts, the points of which were almost, but not quite, as good 
as two or three I can remember which took place in the late 
'sixties and early 'seventies. In an article which appeared in 
the Field, when hunting was stopped by frost, in 
January, 1905, and in two or three subsequent numbers 
the question was discussed at some length, and the 
opinion was put forth that in many accounts of hunting runs 
there was over-estimation of the actual point, due to the fact 
that the distance of the point was arrived at by guesswoh-k 
on the part of someone who knew the country well, but had 
not measured the distance on the ordnance map. The map 


is the only absolutely trustworthy guide, and should always 
be consulted if there is any doubt, and my experience is that 
the map very often reduces what has been at first thought 
to be a ten-mile point to a point of about seven, and so 
forth; and also it proves that it is of little use to reckon the 
actual point of any run by the supposed distance between 
any two places, for country roads wind almost everywhere, 
and such distances are locally estimated by the length of the 
road. The article to which reference has been made, and of 
which I was the writer, need not be quoted at length, but it 
suggested that when hounds were not so fast as they now 
are, and fields were of smaller size, the percentage of good 
days was higher all round, and that if hounds did not travel 
as fast as they now do on a burning scent, they ran more 
uniformly on moderate scenting days, and finished their runs 
either by killing or marking to ground more frequently than 
they now do.i This statement I made after having seen 
hounds, several times and in more than one country, taken 
to draw a fresh covert, while they still had a hunted fox in 
front of them, but were only able to speak to the line very 
occasionally, and had been reduced to what is generally spoken 
of as walking after their fox. I referred to the fact that I had 
tO' go back to my earliest days for the best and longest hunts I 
had ever seen, and I gave very brief particulars of three. The 
first of these was from Ingoe to Meldon Dyke Nook with the 
Tynedale in 1867 (and has been mentioned in this volume), the 
second waa the hunt from Paunoeford to Holme Lacy with 
the Ledbury in January, 1872, and which has been deecribed, 
and the third was with the Heythrop in December of the 
same year (1872). Concerning this last run, of which I 
gave the barest particulars in the article referred to, the late 
Mr. Melliar Foster- Melliar, of North Aston Hall, for many 
years secretary of the Heythrop Hunt, sent the following 
letter to the Field, which appeared on February 4th, 1905 : — 
" Sib, — I was much interested in ' Shotley's ' article 
* Then and Now ' in the last Field, specially in its allu- 
sion to a fine run with the Heythrop in 1872, at which 
I was present, and will, with your permission, give you 
a fuller account of it drawn from my diary : — 


" ' 1872 was the last year of Mr. Hall's mastership, 
he taking the hounds in 1865. The pack belonged to 
the late Lord Redesdale, and Mr. Hall engaged Stephen 
Goodall as huntsman, v/hilst he hunted a pack of bitches, 
which he had bought. This arrangement gave us the 
finest seven years' sport I ever saw with the Heythrop, 
and the run I am about to describe I have always con- 
sidered the best in every point (but one) I have ever 
seen in forty-four years' hunting. On December 16th, 
1872, the Heythrop met here (North Aston). The weather 
was fine and open, but we made a bad start, chopping 
one fox and running another to ground without any run. 
Then we drew a little osier bed close to Clifton Mill, 
on the bank of the Cherwell (our boundary). It was 
apparently blank, but when we were two fields beyond 
it there was a holloa, so we galloped back, and were told 
by a member of the bunt, who was a little late, that he 
had seen a fox go away. I held up my hat to Hall, who 
came back, and laid on the hounds quite quietly, when 
they settled at once, and this great run began. The 
fox made first to Deddington, then, leaving that on his 
right, went up the Duns Tew Vale to Hauk Hill; passed 
that on his left, and, having Newington on his right 
and Wiggington on his left, went on up to Wiggington 
Heath. Passed that on his left, to Tadmarton, Swallow- 
cliff e Park, and Sibford. Here, close to Sibford Rough, 
we lost, owing to the fox being chased by a sheepdog 
on Sibford Grounds Farm — nine miles from point to 
point, and twelve as we ran; time, two hours and thirty 
minutes. ' 

" So you see it was not fast, but a grand, straight, 
hunting run. 1 do not remember any particular check, 
but we kept going on at a fair hunting pace. I think 
I was the only one who got a second horse at Wiggington 
Heath. I had my two best ones — a white at first, and 
finished on a black. ' Shotley ' and Hermon-Hodge 
must have had a terrible ride to Oxford, more than 
twenty miles, and a pitch-dark night. I have often 
wondered how and when they got home. It was hard 
lines to be proctorised at the end ! The last field but 


one was grass, and the bitches streamed up under the 
hedge, then turned through it into a stubble, which was 
mown and full of haulm cocks, in the middle of which 
we threw up. In one corner was a sheepfold and shep- 
herd making all snug for the night. We asked him, but 
he was sullen and nasty ; and my impression is that 
someone jumped off his horse in a rage and offered to 
fight him; but we worked it down, and the two under- 
graduates went off in what they thought was the way to 
Oxford. Then the whipper-in (poor Jack Hazel ton) 
came up and begged Hall to send him home with the 
hounds, as they were curling up in twos and threes to 
sleep on the haulm cocks. Whilst they were being got 
together I asked the shepherd quietly (after half-a-crown) 
whether his dog had run him. ' Yes, he did.' That was 
enough for me; for, of course, our fox was so beat the 
dog must have killed him. Well, if we had only caught 
him it would have been perfect. 

Melliak Foster-Melliar." 

My recollections of the hunt which Mr. Foster-Melliar 
described are very vivid, firstly because I was on a horse which 
I had been told would not jump water, and there was a biggish 
brook in the line almost immediately after, the start. The 
horse jumped it in fine style, but shortly afterwards he gave 
me a terrible ducking in the old Berks Country by falling 
into a deep, sullen water cut, not fa!p from Abingdon race- 
course. In the Heythrop run he had jumped the water like 
a stag, but with the Old Berks he refused and then slipped 
in, and I went right under before I got clear of him. But 
that North Aston day will always live in my memory, for the 
line was good all the way, and barbed wire had not been 
invented in those days. As far as I am concerned, trouble 
only arose when the run was over, and the difficulty of get- 
ting back to Oxford was encountered. We had a dogcart and 
tandem at Hopcrofts Holt, but that place was about fifteen 
miles from where we finished, and it was dark almost imme- 
diately, while neither Hermon-Hodge nor I had even been in 
that part of the country before. Moreover, our horses were 
done to a turn, and quite an hour was lost in our attempts 
to obtain meal and water at the first hamlet we reached . We 


had to lead for a great part of the distance, and when we 
reached the tandem our troubles were not over, for the leader 
was in the lead for the first time that day, and would not go 
in the dark. I think we stopped and changed the positions of 
the two horses, but anyhow we had a most curious drive, and 
did not reach Oxford until nearly eleven o'clock, having had 
no dinner en route. What Mr. Foster-Melliar wrote about 
the sport shown by the Heythrop I can confirm as far as the 
season of 1872 is concerned. They were then showing better 
sport than any of the packs near Oxford, and this was reflected 
in the size of the fields. Fields were of fair size with the 
Bicester, too, in those days, but the Heythrop attracted the 
undergraduate who knew what hunting was, and the trouble 
of it was that many of the best meets were at a great distance 
from Oxford, and only to be reached after a very long ride 
or drive. The Gawcombe Vale, for example, must be twenty 
miles at least from Alma Mater, but it is a rare country when 
reached, and was well worth the long journey. I saw a very 
fine hunt from Bradwell Grove, which, if my memory is 
correct, ended near Wychwood Forest. I have also a recol- 
lection of a queer drive home to Oxford a few days before 
Christmas of 1872. Hounds had met somewhere in the Whit- 
ney district, and I drove to the meet with a friend, our 
horses being brought from Woodstock. The groom took the 
trap on to Whitney to await our arrival after hunting, and 
I do not think there was any particular run of note, but I 
do remember that it was bitterly cold, with heavy showers 
of sleety snow during the day. We were, however, very 
busy during the afternoon, and I stayed until hounds went 
home, could not find my friend, and trotted off to Whitney, 
arriving wet to the skin after dark. I then found that my 
friend had returned hours before, and had gone home by 
train, and so I started alone, behind two very free-going 
horses, who had been standing five or six hours in the stable 
and were terribly keen to get home. It was now freezing 
hard and the road wag quickly becoming a- sheet of ioe. It 
was very dark also, and it was Saturday night, which at 
that time meant market day at Oxford. My gloves were 
so wet that the reins slipped through my fingers, and how 
I accomplished my journey without an accident I have never 


quite understood, for between Eynsham and Oxford there 
were then — and may be still for all I know — trees alongside 
the road for a considerable distance, and quite half the many 
market carts I met were on the wrong side of the road, 
especially in this dark district. Very few of the carters 
carried lights — I imagine they were not obliged to by law 
at date- — and man.y of the passengers appeared tO' be 
" market merry," but luckily on© could hear them talking 
and singing long before they could be actually seen. 
Another funny getting home from the Hejrthrop I have in 
mind. It was also a tandem case, and as our tandem reached 
a certain turnpike gate some four or five miles from Oxford, 
we were greeted with a loud shout of " Stop ! " We pulled 
up, and found a closed cab waiting, which had been sent by 
James Higgs, livery stable-keeper, of Long Wall, to meet us, 
Higgs having discovered that the proctors were lying in wait 
for the tandem nearer Oxford. Well, we were just about 
getting into the cab when a four-in-hand drag appeared from 
the same direction by which we had come. This drag was, 
I think, owned by certain Guards officers, who used to hunt 
from Bicester at that time. Anyhow, it was lightly laden, 
and when the man who was driving had been told what all 
the fuss was about, he had a happy thought, which was that 
two of his party should go on in the tandem, while our tandem 
load went into Oxford on the coach. The coach, which was 
known to the proctors, went in unchallenged, but the dogcart 
was pulled up, and the proctors thoroughly sold. 

Further recolleotions of the Heythrop include an opening 
meet a.t Heythrop House whilst it was being restored, 
and when a huge crowd were entertained in a large 
marquee placed on the lawn ; of a very fine hunt in the centre 
of the country, and of good sport, from Bradwell Grove 
and a covert near Bruern Abbey, the name of which I 
do not remember. I also have a queer recollection of an inci- 
dent which took place in Tar Wood in the autumn of 1872, 
and before the regular season had commenced. Hounds were, 
in fact, cubhunting, and were having a lot of covert work 
with cubs which showed no inclination of leaving the shelter 
of the wood. There were a lot of people out, for the regular 
Reason was close at hand, and after a good deal of galloping 


up and down the rides people became collected in groups 
geiserally where there was a cross-ride. Perhaps a dozen riders 
were in one particular spot, when someone shouted " Look- 
out ! " and a runaway horse was seen coming right at us at 
a high rate of speed. There was a general pulling to one side, 
and as the horse approached the group he began to stop of 
hi- own accord, for his rider did not appear to have the lea^t 
control over him. But in stopping he collided with a tree 
and his rider came off, being thrown on to his back almost 
in the centre of the ride. Quite a usual thing, you will say, 
and so it was; but the joke (if any) was forthcoming in the 
fact that the fallen horseman wore a blue pea-jacket — greatly 
worn at that day, but not in the hunting field — and a pair 
of wide blue trousers. These were rucked up and torn, and, 
as their owner recovered his wind, it was seen by everyone 
that he had underneath the blue trousers well-made and 
smart top boots, and leathers above. He soon came round, 
and was the victim of a good deal of chaff, and he was quickly 
recognised as a somewhat eccentric young Don, who was after- 
wards a first-rate sportsman, but was then going through 
his novitiate. Why he covered up his new boots and breeches 
1 never heard; but, a jiropos curious costumes, I remember 
being out with the Ledbury at some incredibly early hour at 
the end of August, and the sudden appearance of a youngish 
man in new scarlet, white breeches, top boots, and tall hat, as 
if it had b» en the regular season. Who he was I have quite 
forgotten, and I would not reveal his name even if I remem- 
bered it; but he made a striking apparition, and the Master 
(Mr. Charles Morrell) was the most astonished man in the 
world when he saw it. Mr. Morrell was not far away, inside 
a covert, hunting hounds, and, seeing the scarlet, he naturally 
thought it was one of his own men in the wrong place, and 
shouted out some order. To this there was no response, and 
it v/as not until the IMaster obtained a full view of the mag- 
nificent cubhunter that he realised he had been shouting in 

I remember in that same season of 1872 being at the 
opening meet of the Bioester, just after Lord VaJentia 
had taken the metstership, and I was aJ&o in the 
same season at the opening meet of th© Old Berks, of 


which Lord Cra,ven and Mr. " Tom " Duffield were then 
joint Masters. Where this was held I cannot remember, but 
I have a recollection of a breakfast in a long room — possibly 
a bam — co'nveTted into a dining-room for the pui-poee, and I 
think the meet was either at the kennels or at some farmhouse 
close by. The Bicester was a very smart hunt in those days, 
and I think there were more scarlet coats, in proportion to 
the numbers out, than in any other hunt I have seen. Bunches 
of violets and other buttonholes were common, as were snaffle 
bridle thoroughbred horses; but the best of the country was 
a long way from Oxford, and I was not very lucky as regards 
sport in my visits. With the Old Berks I saw several good 
days; but there again the Oxford side of the country con- 
tains — or did then — a lot of plough land, and is nothing like 
so good as the Berkshire Vale further south, and to which 
I only once penetrated. Lord Craven and Mr. Duffield were 
an enthusiastic couple of foxhunters, and the whole field 
struck me as being terribly keen and businesslike. The South 
Oxfordshire are perhaps more frequently close to Oxford than 
any other pack, and at the time I write of the late Lord 
Macclesfield was Master, and my chief recollections of the 
hunt are of biggish woodlands and very consistent sport. 
About this time I had odd days with thei Warwickshire 
and the V.W.H., the latter then one country, with Sir W. 
Throckmorton Master, and I also saw the Duke of Beaufort's 
hounds on the north side of their country, close to the V.W.H. 
boundary. During the late 'sieventies and early 'eighties all 
the hunting I saw was in Durham, Northumberland, and York- 
shire and this I have already described; but in the late 
'eighties I had a good deal of wandering up and down the 
country and saw many packs at work. From Lichfield, 
where I stayed with the late " Squire " Treadwell at Bury 
Hills, I saw the South Staffordshire and Meynell, and a year 
or two later I saw the North Staffordshire, hunting, and in 
the kennel, whilst staying with a friend at Ecoleshall. About 
this time, too, I had sundry short expeditions to the Mid- 
land packs, and I remember taking part in one very fine hunt 
with the Quorn, of which I wrote an account for Land and 
Water. But I have mislaid the cutting and cannot be sure 
of the date. It took place, however, on a Monday, and the 


meet was at Lodge-on-the- Wolds. Hunting had been stopped 
by a not very severe frost during the latter half of the 
previous week, and the result was that there was a far larger 
field than was then usual at this particular meet. I 
remember being penned up with the crowd, like sheep, in 
a lane, during the morning, and seeing very little; but after 
two o'clock, when about two- thirds of the field had departed, 
hounds got away on good terms with a fox, and ran for about 
an hour and ten minutes, making a point of five or six miles, 
and finishing with a kill — I think just on the Bel voir boun- 
dary. I was with Mr. Fernie one day when they ran twice 
from the neighbourhood of Glenn to the Leicester racecourse 
at Oadby, and after a Sleaford coursing meeting I had a 
rattling good day with the Belvoir in their Lincolnshire 
country, on a horse kindly lent to me by the late Mr. F. Ward, 
of Quarrington. 

About this time, too, I had days with the Queen's, the 
Old Berkeley, Old Surrey, Surrey Union, and quite a number 
of Saturdays with the Garth, always on the Virginia Water, 
Chobham to Chertsey side of the country. In 1895 I went 
to the Burstow one early November day, and was so pleased 
with what I saw that I repeated the visit some thirty or forty 
times that season; but the pack did not court publicity in 
those days, and though I was connected with a hunting paper, 
my accounts of the doings of the Burstow were few and far 
between. On the day of my first visit hounds met at God- 
stone station, and it was blowing such a gale that hunting 
seemed out of the question, and covert after covert had been 
drawn blank before someone viewed a fox, hounds being 
quickly after him. He could not face the wind, and the 
upshot was that hounds ran down wind for forty minutes 
and killed in the open. On such a day this was a very big 
performance, and I know that I was a good deal impressed 
with it. The late Mr. Henry G. Hoare was then in his last 
year of mastership, and though foxes were very scarce all 
over the best part of the country, hounds showed a lot of sport 
whenever they had the opportunity. The great days of the 
season came in the spring, and it will be remembered not only 
for the sport shown, but because it was the last day on which 
Mr. Hoare rode to hounds. This day has been described in 


the Complete Fcxhunter, and there is also an account of it in 
the sporting section of the Surrey volumes of the Victoria 
County Histories of England, and I first of all may state, for 
the benefit of those who do not know the country, that the 
original Burstow country — the Hunt is now amalgamated with 
the Old Surrey — contains a very fine vale country, which lies 
between two lines of hills. The long line of hills which begins 
with the Hog's Back in the extreme west of Surrey extends 
eastward by Guildford, Dorking, and right on into Kent, and 
a spur of this line farther south forms Leith Hill, which is 
in the Surrey Union country. But immediately south of 
Reigate, Kedhill, Bletchingley, and Limpsfield there is a wide 
and fairly flat plain — in which the Lingfield and Gatwick 
racecourses are situated — and this plain must be about ten 
miles from north to south, where it reaches a low range of 
hills on the Surrey-Sussex border, and perhaps a little further 
from east to west. On the day I have in mind, hounds met 
at the village of Lingfield, and there had been so much rain 
shortly before that the racecourse stream was flooded, and as the 
first draw was the clump on the racecourse, White — who had 
come from the Goodwood to carry the horn with the Burstow 
in place of Mr. Hoare — had to cross the stream on a plank, 
hounds having been brought to the racecourse from the far side, 
and not by the usual road. There was an immediate holloa,, 
and hounds went back over the brook, and for several minutes 
had matters all to themselves, the field being held up by 
■wire. Tliis enabled the pack to settle to their fox, and they 
ran — without a check, as far as my recollection goes — across 
the plain to Gatwick, crossing the main Brighton line at the 
Gatwick racecourse station. I remember that railwaymen 
opened the gates, and we rode through the paddock to the 
head — the top turn — of the course, turned left-handed, and 
ran on to the outskirts of Crawley, where the fox was killed 
in a cottage garden. This was a capital hunt, with a point 
of about seven miles, and it was all over by one o'clock. Then 
came a long trot back to the country of the draw, and it was 
about three o'clock when a second fox was found in a spinney 
near New Chapel Green. INIany of the field had gone 
home, and I remember Mr. Hoare coming out of the spinney 
and telling some of us that they were running two foxes 


inside, but that he felt tired and was going home. Soon after- 
wards hounds went out on the east side and ran by the then 
much-talked-of Bell agio estate to Hammerwood, and thence to 
Cowden in the West Kent country. By this time the select 
few who were left with hounds were all in unknown country, 
and from that day to this I have never known exactly where 
we went; but hounds ran on, and when it was almost quite 
dark killed their fox in a hedgerow. Some seven or eight of 
the field, and White, the huntsman, were there, and after 
various wanderings in the dark we reached East Grinstead 
shortly before eight o'clock, left our horses there, and went 
home by train. Hounds arrived at the kennels about ten 
o'clock, and I have often thought this was about the best 
scenting day I ever remember. Nor can I recall any other 
day on which two such fine runs came so quickly, or one on 
which more ground was covered. What the point of the last 
run was I have never known, because it is impossible to say 
v/here it ended, but hounds were going on for well over two 
hours v/ith no check of any consequence, and all the latter part 
of the hunt was in the West Kent or the Eridge country. 

I may add that some years after these hunts had taken place 
I was told by the late Mr. " Bob " Fowler, of Liugfield, that 
the first fox, from the Lingfield raeccourse, was a bag- 
man, who had been put down only a few minutes before the 
hounds came. He was, however, a local fox, freshly caught, 
and not what used to be called a " Leadenhaller," and he 
was the most satisfactory bagman that I ever saw hunted. 

Hunting from London had greatly declined in the ten or 
twenty years before the war, and by this I mean hunting on 
the part of men and women who lived in town and kept their 
horses in the country, going down by train on the hunting 
mornings and returning to London after the sport of the day 
was at an end. The fact is that though quite a score of 
south-country hunts depend in a great degree upon the 
London hunting people, a very large majority of the business 
men who hunt have long since become residents in the hunt 
of their choice, and really hunt from home, going to their 
businesses in town on the non-hunting days. And among 
the crowds in some of these hunts men from every rank of 
society were to be found not many years ago. Bankers, stock- 


brokers. City merchants, barristers, lawyers, doctors, dentists, 
and, in fact, professional men of all sorts, with a big sprinkling 
of tradesmen, not only from the West End, but from the City 
and occasionally from the suburbs. The squirearchy within 
reach of town has been so greatly replaced by the business 
magnate of every variety that the old-fashioned land-owning 
hunting man was not very numerous when I hunted from 
London, and the more rustic part of the fields was chiefly 
composed of farmers, or of the sons of business men who pre- 
ferred farming and rural life generally to following in their 
fathers' City footsteps. As for boxing horses from London on 
a hunting morning, the practice had practically disappeared 
at least five-and-twenty years ago. In the mid-Victorian period 
there was a good deal of boxing to the " Queen's," but things 
had changed greatly with the royal pack in the last few years 
of its existence, and, as happens in ©very other hunt, a 
majority of the boxing had become local. There were, say, five- 
and-twenty years ago, not many suitable morning trains from 
London to hunting centres, by which horses could be taken, 
and there was often a long delay after hunting before the 
horse could be taken back. The upshot was that those who 
hunted from town themselves kept their horses in the country, 
and had them sent on to meets, the rider usually availing 
himself of a station fly. When I used to see the Burstow I 
had an occasional companion — who now holds high military 
rank and has won the D.S.O. — but on three days out of 
four I left my London quarters long before daylight, and 
therefore was more than once deceived by the weather, there 
being rain in town while in the country there was snow. Still, 
I do not remember being stopped by weather for more than 
an hour or two in that country, for the winter was singularly 
open and mild, and the Burstow " crowd " was such a cheery 
one, and so optimistic, that an hour of delay meant that the 
time never hung heavily. Indeed, although it is more than 
twenty years ago, I have never forgotten the bonhomie and 
good feeling in this particular hunt. The stranger was 
quickly approached and given every chance of making 
acquaintances, and after a day or two, v/hen members of the 
hunt found I was coming from London, invitations to break- 
fast on hunting mornings, or to " dine and sleep " before 


hunting were really numerous. My idea was to breakfast at 
a certain hotel, and I went there once, and only once; the 
hotel was very good, but my new friends were so hospitable 
that there was no need to go there again. And although 
many of the regular habitues were not countrymen, but rather 
Londoners living in the country, I have never known so well- 
behaved a field. Over- riding was literally unknown, and 
no one ever dreamt of riding over growing crops. Over- 
riding — sometimes of a very bad character — I have seen in 
every hunt I have been in except the Burstow, and I always 
attributed some portion of the good sport I saw with this pack 
to the fact that hounds always had plenty of room, and 
were never hustled beyond their noses. 

The Queen's I saw occasionally about seven-and-twenty 
years ago, and about the same time the Old Berkeley and the 
Garth, and this reminds me that a correspondent has asked 
me how near to London I have actually seen a fox hunted. I 
imagine that there are hundreds who have hunted regularly 
with some of the packs I have late-ly mentioned who could 
answer this question better than I can, for I have only hunted 
a Kttle, at odd times, with the packs which are nearest to 
London. However, I may state that I have seen the Surrey 
Union run over the Epsom racecourse at the conclusion of a 
very fair hunt . The fox was found somewhere near Boxhill, but 
I do not remember the name of the covert, and hounds hunted 
at no great pace, and with a number of twists and turns to 
the neighbourhood of Woodcote Park, and then rather faster 
by the Warren, reaching the course at the City and Suburban 
starting post. They then cut across to Tattenham Corner and 
went into Nork Park, where I think the fox found shelter in 
a drain, but I am not quit^i sure as to what the exact finish 
v,^as. The hunt took place shortly after Mr. F. G. Colman 
assumed the Mastership. I suppose Nork Park is sixteen miles 
from town by road, and I saw the same pack quite as near town 
a year or two later when they hunted a fox out of Princes' 
Woods to Earweill Court, which is adjacent to Claygate, and 
less than three miles from Surbiton. I remember to have heard 
of the same pack being at Worcester Park a few years earlier, 
but I never saw them there, though I havei seen beag'les all over 
the district in question and in the country — now almost entirely 


built over — between Maiden station and Coombe, and, in 
fact, over the ground which is now taken up by the two 
Coombe ^olf clubs. I have also seen the Old Berkeley (West) 
running all round Denham and to within a mile of Uxbridge, 
and I have seen the Old Berkeley (probably East) near the 
railway about half-way between Harrow and Watford, but that 
was from a train window. I have also seetn the West Surrey 
Staghounds twice run a stag to Surbiton station, and on each 
occasion take it in the goods yard. The first hunt was from 
Slyfield — where many point- to-points have been run — and the 
stag at first went south nearly to Effingham. Then he turned, 
crossed the Mole a mile west of Leatherhead, and went on to 
Oxshott, where hounds got up to him and were called 
off. He then ran through the coverts north of Ox- 
shott, passed east of Claygate, and went on to Surbiton. 
The other hunt was after a meet not far from Guildford, but 
the stag — the same in either case — came right back to Sur- 
biton. These hunts took place during Mr. Martin Rucker's 
Mastership, probably in 1896 or the following year. 

How near to London some of the Essex packs may come I 
hardly know, but I imagine that the Essex, Essex Union, 
and Mr. Bosanqu^t's (in Herts) may at times come even 
nearer than Surbiton. The Essex Union I first saw as long 
ago as during Mr. Scratton's third Mastership, which ter- 
minated in 1869. I was only a boy at the time, and was 
staying at the Royal Hotel at Southend, recovering from 
measles. Another boy of sporting taste was with me, and as 
it was midwinter and the place — then quite a small town — 
deserted, we had a lot of sport. We secured hirelings and had 
several days with Mr. Scratton, and both of us one day got 
into a deep drain on the marshes somewhere, I am inclined 
to think, in the neighbourhood of Southminster. When we 
were not hunting we went wild-fowl shooting in a little centre- 
board cutter manned by a brace of fishermen named Sol Ipsey 
and Tom Plumb — I have always remembered these rather 
unusual names- — and they were both experts in the coast 
shooting of that day and put us in the way of securing a fair 
number of duck and other wild -fowl. We used to go round 
the coast to the Crouch river, if the wind suited, and up the 
Thames estuary if it was blowing too hard outside. We had 



a duck-gun of the old-fashioned sort on a swivel and ordinary 
breech-loaders as well, and we certainly got a lot of shooting, 
especially during a week of severe frost, when it was too hard 
to hunt, and the cold weather drove in a lot of strange birds 
such as geese, great northern divers, and other sorts. We 
were also asked to shoot inland, near Prittlewell (I have 
entirely forgotten who our host was, but remember we mauie 
his acquaintance riding home from hunting), and I shall never 
forget that day, because someone peppered a labourer, who 
was crossing the line of guns and was hidden by trees. Yells 
were heard from beyond the belt of trees, and when we got 
there a burly man was rolling about on the ground, declaring 
he had been shot all over. Examination, however, revealed 
the fact that he was more frightened than hurt, and though 
a considerable number of pellets were found in his breeches 
and gaiters, none of them had penetrated the flesh, which is 
not to bo wondered at seeing that he was practically out of 
range, and had only been hit by spent shot. He was well 
rewarded, and I saw him several times afterwards in South- 
end, taking a holiday, and he invariably told us that the 
day he was shot was the best he had ever had in his life. 

Essex is, I need hardly say, a sporting county, and much 
of the hunting which takes place within its borders of very 
high character. It is, I am inclined tO' think, the best plough 
county in England, and this applies not only to the Union 
pack, but to the Essex, the Puckeridge in parts of their 
country, and the East Essex, The Essex and Suffolk I 
never saw, and have been so little in the country that 
I cannot write anything about it; but the Essex is a grand 
open country, much of it very thinly populated, and though 
there is arable land to gallop over rather than grass, much of 
the arable is comparatively light going, especially during the 
autumn months before the winter rains have come down. The 
Roothings are generally considered to be the best part of the 
hunt, and Roothing ditches arei no joke if one happens to slip 
into one, for though they may be dry at the bottom, they are 
very deep, and from some of them it is impossible for a horse 
to scramble out, and he may have to be walked a mile or more 
along the ditch to some spot where the ground shelves down- 
wards to the ditch. Of this I have had actual experience 


somewhere between Takeley aud Dunmow, and the funny 
part of it was that hounds were not running, but were merely 
going quietly from covert to covert. It must have been in 
the spring, for there was a field of standing corn, and the 
riders, in single file, all went round by the hea-dland — which 
was a very narrow one. Suddenly a horse ridden by a lady 
began to plunge, and, catching my horse on the quarters, the 
latter gradually slipped down into a deep, dry ditch. I never 
even came off, nor did the horse lose his legs, but we were at the 
tail of the procession, and there was no one near who knew 
the run of that particular ditch. The upshot was that I rode 
up and down this ditch, aud others which joined it, for three- 
quarters of an hour before I found myself on level ground 
again, and when I emerged not a sign of the hunt was visible 
and I did not find hounds for another hour. But horses, 
after a little experience, jump these Roothing ditches freely, 
and many have a firm take off and landing, though there is 
often a short growth of twigs on either bank above the ditch. 
I only saw the Essex very occasionally in 1897 and the fol- 
lowing year, and always on the eastern, generally north- 
eastern side of their country, but 1 frequently was with the 
Puckeridge when they were at coverts mutual to the two hunts 
and when they ran into the Essex country. 

Curiously enough I did not see the Puckeridge country 
until many years after I had wanted to hunt in it. I knew 
it was principally plough, but I had read, many years ago, 
a short account in (I think) one of " The Druid's " books of 
how Mr. Nicholas Parry had run a fox from the centre of 
his country to Sandy in Bedfordshire, and I felt that where 
such a run was possible the country could not be a bad one. 
After that I used to study it carefully from the train window 
during many journeys between London and Newmarket, for 
I may explain that the Great Eastern Railway enters the 
Puckeridge country after crossing the river Lea, a mile or 
two north of Broxboume, and goes right up its eastern side 
to Great Chesterford, beyond which the line enters the Cam- 
bridgeshire country. What I particularly noticed was that 
the whole district seemed to be remarkably open, and that 
as far as one could judge from the window of a railway train 
the enclosures were large, and mostly arable, but with a 

p 2 


certain amount of grass, especially in the valley of the river 
Stort. The upshot was that I rode through a considerable 
part of the country on a bicycle one summer, and after a 
time took an old farmhouse, which was not far from the centre 
of the hunt. From these quarters I had two- thirds of one 
season and a portion of the next, but 1 went to the north 
for the latter part of each season, and I am not going to say 
that I did not prefer the north from a riding point of view, 
cfrass being always pleasanter to hunt over than plough. But 
for all that Puckeridge is a great hunt, happy under the 
mastership of one of the best Masters in the kingdom, who has 
made a big name for himself a? a hoimd breeder, and who has 
had for many years a veiry grand pack. Mr. Barclay's hounds 
are workers, and Peterborough hounds to boot, and th.ey show 
rare sport over what is, except in very wet weather, generally 
admitted to be a poor scenting country; and here, I may 
state, scenting conditions vary just as much in a plough 
country as they do where the land is chiefly grass. How 
to understand this one does not know ; I think it is either 
the foxes which vary or the atmosphere, but I do not know 
Vv'hich, and I can only say that I have seen the Puckeridge run 
hard all day, and have heard afterwards that the Essex a 
few miles away could do nothing. I have also heard of the 
reverse side of the case, when the Essex had good hunts and 
the Puckeridge could not run a yard. But, as I dare say many 
of my readers know, there are at various times all sorts of 
conditions which govern scent, and very little evidence as to 
their why and wherefore. For example, I remember one long 
hunt in the north only five or six years ago, which lasted 
some three hours, when scent was never really good. Hounds 
kept driving on, at no great pace, and always on grass. At 
one period of the hunt, after they had been going for quite 
an hour, they reached a long, narrow strip of ploughed land, 
and though they had only just been able to own the line in 
the preceding grass field, they shot away the moment they 
touched the plough, and fairly raced to the end of the field. 
Beyond they were on grass again, and they quickly slowed 
down, and a quarter of an hour later the same thing 
occurred when a second ploughed field was crossed. 

Probably about five-sixths of the Puckeridge country is 


arable land, and therefore it follows that the greater part 
of the riding is on what is broadly termed " plough." But 
as a matter of fact there are considerable variations, and 
perhaps the chief of these is that during the autumn there 
is a very great area of stubble in the hunting areas. It is, 
of course, impossible in an arable country for farmers to 
plough out all their stubble fields immediately they have 
been reaped ; the process is in many places a long one, extend- 
ing over the greater part of the autumn, and therefore it 
happens that during October, and sometimes well into 
November, there are stubbles to be crossed which, if not 
too hard, afford excellent going. I have known the stubbles 
as hard as iron in September, and yielding and pleasant a 
little later, but the Puckeridge country carries its best scent 
when the country is really wet, and even then the plough is 
nothing like so heavy as I have found it in other countries. 
This applies also to the western and north-western side of 
the Essex country, and I am inclined to think that when 
the land is dry scent is better on the eastern side of the 
Puckeridge than it is on the west or in the most northerly 
districts of the hunt. But, as has been suggested, sport is 
best in this particular country when the land is very wet, 
.and at such times there is greater continuity of good sport; 
but I have seen the Puckeridge run in all sorts of weather, 
and once saw a brilliant twenty minutes, followed by a good 
hunting run on a holding scent when the dust was flying 
in the centre of the fields. The best day with the pack which 
I saw was after a meet near the centre of the hunt. Where 
•exactly this meet was I do not remember, but hounds found 
in a little spinney quite close to the kennels, which were then 
at Braughing. They ran on steadily to the Hassiobury 
Coverts, and thence to Hazel End Wood, where — as I believe 
was thought at the time — they changed foxes. Anyhow, they 
went on in an eastward direction, crossing the main Cam- 
bridge railway near Birchanger. They then ran north of 
Takeley Forest — but not into it, if my memory is correct — 
and, still bending a little to the north, reached the coverts of 
Easton Park. Here they came right round, and went back 
on a parallel line to Hassiobury, and how the hunt ended 
I do not quite remember, as one horse had had enough and 


I was obliged to stop. A glance at the map will show that 
an extraordinary amount of ground was covered in this hunt, 
and a very long point made to the turn near Easton. Many 
other good hunts I saw with this pack, but at times the sport 
was quite spoilt by the mange epidemic which was then raging 
in Herts and Essex, and which caused such mortality among 
the foxes that sound, travelling members of the tribe were 
not easily found. Fields with the Puckeridge were large 
in those days, especially in the Bishop's Stortford district, 
where there is more population than in other parts of the 
hunt. The Saturday country in the extreme north-west is 
very thinly populated, and somewhat remote from any centre 
of population. Still, even there there used to be a fair 
muster, for Saturday is a popular hunting day with business 
men, and many used to travel long distances when hounds met 
at such places as Barkway or Reed. And in this neighbour- 
hood hounds were apt to run into the Cambridgeshire country ; 
and I well remember one December evening when they 
finished about four miles north of Royston, and I had to 
ride home a distance of twenty-two miles in extraordinary 
darkness. I got some gruel for my horse at Royston, but 
there was no one of the few who had stayed to the end 
going my way, and as it was too dark to attempt any short 
cuts by the fields I had to stick to the lanes, and my tired 
horse kept blundering against the hedges. Near the south- 
east of the Puckeridge Hunt lies Takeley Forest, a huge wood- 
land, which is neutral to the Puckeridge and Essex. But 
this particular forest is in many places very open, with 
" squares " of railed-off covert and open grass between. Both 
packs are often there, and a finer cubhunting ground could 
hardly be found, for cubs dodge across from one square to 
the next repeatedly, and are much more frequently seen by 
the field than in a dense woodland where the rides are still 
thick with summer growth. In Takeley Forest I have seen 
Baily, the late Essex huntsman, to great advantage on a hot 
morning, and watched him hunt cub after cub in scieaitifio and 
satisfactory fashion. I have also seen the Puckeridge, later 
in the season, hunt foxes which would not leave the forest, 
and for woodland hunting alone, I think, Takeley Forest is 
the best hunting ground I ever knew. There is another very 


oig covert, named Scales Park, in tJie northern part of the 
Puckeridge country, and I always liked the look of this place; 
but foxes were scarce there in those days of mange, and I 
never saw any good sport from it. By training to Great 
Chesterford I saw both the Newmarket and Thurlow and the 
Cambridgeshire an odd time or two, but with the former 
pack there was then a scarcity of foxes, which made a long 
draw almost inevitable. "With the Cambridgeshire — Mr. 
George Evans was the Master then — I was more lucky, and 
remember one nice day of short but very pretty hunts. What 
chiefly struck me in the Puckeridge country — and I suppose 
the position is much the same now — was the cordiality which 
existed between the farmers and the hunt. I hardly like 
to mention names, because it is five and twenty years since 
I saw the Puckeridge in the field, and I am afraid I have 
forgotten the names of some whoise faces I can remember. 
But the Messrs. Sworder — very regular attendants at Peter- 
borough — Mr. Frank Stacey, and Mr. Martin Burls occur 
to me, and these and others whose names I am not sure about 
form a considerable backbone of what I have always thought 
may claim to be one of the greatest hunts in the kingdom. 
The influence of those I have mentioned was great, their know- 
ledge of hunting and their keenness intense, and they worked 
hand in glove with the covert owners and shooting tenants — 
which latter body are always numerous in ©very country 
within fifty miles of London. In fact, the farmers of the 
Puckeridge help to maintain the traditions of a great hunt 
which has been in existence nearly 200 years, and which 
during that long period has profited especially through the 
efforts of three particular Masters. The first of these was 
Mr. Sampson Hanbury, Master from 1801 to 1832; the second 
Mr. Nicholas Parry, Master from 1838 to 1872, and the third 
the present Master, who is now in his twenty-seventh 
season, Mr. Hanbury was chiefly responsible for settling the 
hunt and its boundaries on the present lines; Mr. Parry 
showed great sport, and more than maintained the standard 
which Mr. Hanbury's mastership had accomplished; and Mr. 
Barclay — and since 1910 his son. Major Maurice Barclay, who 
is joint Master of the pack with his father — have brought the 
hunt to a pitch of perfection which says a great deal not only 


for the management of the establishment, but for the hold- 
ing together of a large country. 

In a letter which has reached me from an old friend there 
is the following : ' ' Do give us one or two of some days on 
Exmoor." I had, before receiving this letter, almost for- 
gotten that I had ever seen the famous west country pack of 
staghounds to which my correspondent refers, and truth to tell, 
I have not at the moment a great deal to say about the Devon 
and Somerset, for I have seen just enough of thei pack to make 
me long for more. Aa a mattier of fact, I had only paid two 
visits to the pack, and quite recently a third, which will be 
mentioned in a supplementary chapter. The first was 
during Mr. Fenwick Bisset's Mastership, in the year fol- 
lowing the Franco-German war, which was 1871. And my 
recollections of the trip are too confused for any definite 
description, though I remember being in one all-day hunt, 
when the stag was apparently lost, and refound again three 
or four times, and was finally taken quite close to Exford. 
But more recently I enjoyed a week that was very full of 
sport in the west, and to one day I can refer at length, for 
I was lucky enough to be present at a hunt of four hours, to 
which several pages were devoted in Mr. Everard's Stag Hunt- 
ing with the Devon and Somerset, and by this account I can 
fix the date of my visit to red deer land as having taken 
place in 1900. I had been staying at Scarborough, and I 
well remember how, on the Saturday before the Doncaster 
meeting, I saw, what were then. Sir Everard Cayley's hounds 
cub-hunting, not very far from their kennels at Snainton. 
With a friend I left the Grand Hotel (Scarborough) not 
long after five o'clock in the morning, and had a ten mile 
ride to cover. A fine amateur huntsman, Mr. Robin 
Hill, carried the horn, and after a lot of hunting in small 
coverts, hounds went away with an old fox, and had a capital 
forty minutes in the open, with a kill at the end. They then 
returned to cub-hunting, and I remember that it was an 
awfully hot morning, but that the run took place about seven 
o'clock, before the sun had asserted himself. There was a 
long ride home after refreshing at the Master's house, but 
the upshot of that ride was that the Master of the Braes of 
Derwent, who was with me, and who could not begin his own 


cub-hunting on account of a late harvest, was fired with 
the idea of a few days in Devon, and we instantly wrote for 
rooms and horses for a week later, and were lucky enough to 
secure both, though September was then in its first week. 
Meantime, we saw Diamond Jubilee win the St. Leger, and 
Lucknow supplement the Royal victory in the Portland Plate, 
and then, on the Saturday, we travelled all day^ and reached 
Mineliead in the evening. There we stayed for the night, but 
on the following day we went on to the Anchor, at Porlock 
Weir, where we had secured rooms and horses. Mr. Pike 
Nott provided the latter, and we called at his stables, and 
quickly discovered that the staghounds were either not hunt- 
ing or were too far away on the following day. We had, 
however, asked for horses for every day in the week, and so 
we on the following morning went to a meet of the Exmoor 
foxhounds, at some spot about halfway between Porlock and 
Lynmouth. The meet was at eleven, and there was no ques- 
tion of cub-hunting, and, as a matter of fact, there wa^ a very 
large field, composed chiefly of stag-hunting visitors. What 
is more to the point is that we had a good deal of pretty hunt- 
ing, and obtained a fair idea of what that particular part of 
the country was like. 

Where the staghounds met on the following day I do not 
remember, but the Deer Park was the first draw, and when 
tufters were put into quite a small spinney, three of four 
stags at once showed themselves, and all appeared to be great, 
noble fellows. The tufters were stopped and hounds brought 
from Tom's Hill, and laid on. Then came a pretty but not 
a great hunt. We went to Chalk Water, Weir Water, and 
to the Combes, near Porlock. Then we went west again, and 
were at County Gat« and beyond, but fresh stags kept inter- 
vening and there was no kill. It was a busy day, in which 
hounds were never idle for some five hours, and once we 
were going hard on the open moor for some five and twenty 
minutos, but a great deal of the day was spent in covert. On 
the third day we saw the Minehead Harriers, whose present 
Master, Mr. L. E. Bligh, was then in his second season. They 
were in the cliff country, between Hurlstone Point and Por- 
lock, and were kept going all day by hares, which were able 
to evade them in very strong gorse. It was terribly hot, and 


though scent had been fair with the staghounds on the 
previous day, it was miserable on this occasion. The 
fourth day was with the staghounds again, the meet 
being at Coiners Gate. And now we saw a fresh 
method of proceeding, for a stag had been harboured 
in a very small and rough piece of ground on the open moor,^ 
and the whole pack was taken straight to the place. The stag 
went away at once up a steep incline, with the pack almost 
at his heels, but he quickly put a gap between himself ajid 
his pursuers, and afterwards provided a fine hunt. Where he 
went at first I do not recollect, but he was a long time on open 
ground, and then descended to the Barle Valley. I remember 
that he had hounds all round him near Marsh bridge, but he 
broke away again and went down the fields, past Dulverton, 
and was taken very near the junction of the rivers Barle and 
Exe. This was a capital hunt of about three hours, and what 
impressed me most about it was that once when the pack 
were running through deep heather, with the stag apparently 
a good way ahead, the first whipper-in suddenly appeared 
with some half-dozen couples of hounds, which had followed 
another scent an hour before, and threw them in at head, 
the result being an immediate quickening up in the pace. It 
was a trying day for horses, and of the large field that 
had been present at the meet I do^ not think more than a 
fifth survived to the end of the hunt. I have a very clear 
recollection of that day, and also of my ride home from about 
three miles south of Dulverton to Porlock Weir. How far 
it may be I do not exactly know, but with a tired horse it 
took me many hours, though I gave him meal and water and 
a feed of com at Dulverton, and a second drink at Exford. 
Anyhow, of our particular party I was the only survivor, and 
the others who did not see the finish, owing to their horses 
being beaten, were lucky enough to secxire a trap at Exford 
and leave thedr horses tO' come on later — or on the following 

Whether we saw the Harriers or the Exmoor Foxhounds 
again on the Friday I cannot remember. I know we hunted 
with one of the two packs I have named, but I have no recol- 
lection of the sport, and may pass on to the Saturday, when 
the staghounds met at Slowley, near Dunster, and an hour 


was spent on Croydon Hill watching the tufters in the Combes 
below. I shall now quote from Mr. Everard, for the country 
was new to me, though even now I can recall almost every 
yard of the hunt and the principal places we passed. Mr. 
Everard wrote: " The run took place on Saturday, 15th 
September, 1900, with a galloping three-year-old deer from 
Parson's Close plantation, near Luxborough .... There being 
no alternative deer harboured, the pack was brought from 
Kingsborough, and at ten minutes to one o'clock, a matter 
of fifty minutes after the deer had broken covert (the interval 
having been occupied by trying back for a heavier deer), 
hounds were let go on the fields adjoining Treeborough Com- 
mon. . . . After various short checks on ground foiled by sheep, 
they carried the line to the Raleigh's Cross-road and the 
heathy commons on the Withiel side. While hounds were 
hunting the line the stag was viewed some distance ahead, 
sinking by Swinhayes Comer to the Comberow woods that 
overhang Leigh Barton." I cannot give Mr. Everard's 
description of the next part of the run, as it is long, and part 
of it deals with the difficulties of hunting a stag round the 
deep combes and ravines of this particular neighbourhood, but 
he describes how hounds hunted through various deep ravines 
and up the steep incline of the mineral railway until they 
came to the commons at the head of Sticklepath Hill, where 
there was a check. After pretty hunting the pack swung to 
the higher end of Colton Pits, and then went on to the head 
of Elworthy Combe. The deer had rested in the ravine, but 
was viewed as he sprang up, and now the pace quickened up 
to a rattling gaJlop, hounds following their quarry through 
Combe Sydenham, and thence to Nettleoombe, where there 
was a terrible up and down business for the field. In a stream 
near Nettlecombe Court the stag took a bath " but found 
hounds too close to him, and sped away over the roughly 
fenced enclosures towards . . . Another mile 
from field to field brought them to the Williton rood, where 
their deer had been viewed only a few short minutes ahead. 
On, over the level tillage ground, until a short turn gave them 
pause for a few minutes near a small covert, called, I believe, 
Furse Close. Into this covert they presently carried the line, 
and there was a rousing fresh find. On before them sped the 


deer, still able to bound lightly over the banks and trim 
fences of the valley, but unable to maintain the pace for long. 
Swinging round in a ring to the corner of Furse Close, he came 
to a final standstill in a small hurdled enclosure in a deserted 
lane. Here Mr. John Clatworthy, of Exton, jumped off his 
horse and took him single-handed before the leading hounds 
could reach him. Time from the lay on four hours, and from 
the fresh find at Elworthy Barrows, one hour and five minutes, 
this latter part particularly fast, and over a stiff and difficult 

Never was there a more truthful or graphic description 
written of a run than this. I can, if I close my eyes, see the 
stag taken, and I had noticed Mr. Clatworthy several times 
during the hunt, he being conspicuous because of the rope he 
carried over his shoulder. It was a great hunt, and the latter 
part of it a scurry over a flattish, strongly fenced country. 
We were little more than a mile from the sea at Watchett 
when the end came, and noi doubt the sea was the stag's point. 
As well as I remember, some fifteen to twenty of a very big 
field saw the end, and Mr. Priestman and I — hardened by five 
consecutive days of hunting — were two of them. Getting 
back to Porlock Weir was now the question, and we rode slov/ly 
to Dunster, arriving there to find the hotel crowded with hunt- 
ing folk who had dropped out in various parts of the run. 
It was out of the question to ride our tired horses any further, 
but when I had hired a waggonette and horses it took me 
nearly an hour to find a man to drive them, as it was Satur- 
day, and the men had finished work for the week. I succeeded 
at last, however, and was then besieged for a lift by others 
whose horses were done. At length we got away, the 
wagonette laden to its fullest capacity, and sat down to 
dinner at the Anchor at ten o'clock. This day stands out 
among the best half-dozen of my life. 

Mention of my brief experiences with the Devon and 
Somerset Staghounds reminds me that it is hunting rather 
than riding which (before the war) brought probably the 
greater number of the visitore to that country in August of 
every year. There were, I need hardly say, hunting-men from 
all parts of the kingdom among the riding crowds on Exmoor, 
many Masters of hounds, and — as a matter of course in these 


days — many ladies; but the love of hunting, rather than of 
galloping and jumping, was, I think, the principal attraction, 
and I am inclined to think that interest in hound work is 
more general than it was a generation or more ago. Those 
who follow the Devon and Somerset come in for much tricky 
riding, both on the moor and up and down the combes, and 
occasionally there is not a fence to be jumped all day long, 
wliile, except at odd times, the greater part of the galloping 
is over heather. But there are fine opportunities for watching 
hound work, when once a run begins. The tufting, as far as 
my experience goes, is mostly out of sight — but not of hearing 
— of the field, but when once the pack has been laid on there 
is plenty, as a rule, to be seen, especially for the well-mounted 
pnes, for hounds do not travel so fast over the heather as 
they do over grass. This interest in hound work has, I think, 
been largely promoted by the puppy show. Time was when 
puppy shows were by no means general, and I can remember 
various countries in which there was no such thing before the 
'eighties, while I have it also in mind that many of the earlier 
shows were insignificant affairs to which no one went, except 
a few of the walkers. I recollect one modest affair at which 
some eight or nine couple were brought in on the same day, 
many of them led by the children of the walker. Then the 
IMaster and liis huntsman looked them over, and afterwards 
sent two or three' small prizes tO' those who had sent in the 
best conditioned — not actually the best puppies. This sort of 
thing did not last long, and the puppy show gradually 
developed until it became the important function it is to-day, 
attended by large crowds, not only of walkers, but of members 
of the hunt, of farmers, and, in many cases, of ladies, with 
an elaborate luncheon, many speeches, and well-known judges, 
often brought from quite another part of the country. Such 
competitions are of great value to any hunt, and it is satsfac- 
tory that now the war being at an end they are being resumed 
in all their old importance. They bring together the hunting 
people and the people whose land is ridden over in 
the midst of the season, they bring about an increase in 
the number of willing walkers, and they encourage 
hunting people — and especially the youngsters — to 
take an interest in the hounds themselves. And when 


once this interest is aroused it generally continues, for 
those who have really noted the best puppies at any particular 
show are often anxious to pick them out when they begin 
to work in the field, and to follow their performances. Only 
a few weeks ago I was talking to a veteran huntsman, who 
retired some years ago, and he told me that when he first 
became a whipper-in he was sure that no one except the 
Master knew the names of any of the hounds, and that no 
one ever a-sked him anything about any particular hound. 
" But," he added, " before I retired I was being constantly 
asked, ' what was that dark-coloured hound in front? ' or 
' which hound was it that took it up in the road ? ' And I 
believe that in my last place there were quite half a dozen 
men, and one or two ladies, who knew every hound in the 
pack." This is all to the good for the future of hunting, 
but I do not wish my readers to form the idea that because 
I. am keen on hound work and am no longer young I cannot 
appreciate the galloping and jumping. What I may point 
out is that the two go hand in hand, and that it is quite 
possible to ride really close up to hounds, and note what the 
pack are doing, just as the huntsman does. What I think is 
that the pleasure which can be derived from a run is enor- 
mously increased if the doings of particular hounds are being 
taken in at the same time. A clever huntsman, or Master, 
and nowadays even an ordinary non-official follower will know, 
whenever he sees the pack, which hounds are leading, which 
are not running up, and so forth, and he will also be able 
to detect the notes of the various hounds in covert. And those 
who are able to do this must appreciate a fine hunt betteo: 
than those who merely follow some pilot and, possibly, never 
see a hound from the start to the finish of a run. 

But I did not intend to lecture my readers when I began 
to write to-day, but rather to continue my narrative, which 
is fast drawing to an end. I have a letter from an officer who 
is at present in Egypt, and who reminds me of a good day 
with the Wirral Harriers, in Cheshire. I well remember the 
occasion, but first I may say that within quite recent times I 
have seen the Cheshire foxhounds in the field, and enjoyed 
myself very thoroughly in watching a pack that was new 
to me. But as the three days I have in mind were mostly 


spent in the Forest (Delamere Forest), I need hardly say 
that T did not see the best of the country. On one occasion 
horinds were in the open to begin with, quite in the corner 
of the coTintry which lies nearest to the Dee estuary, and they 
had a pretty hunt of half an hour, to ground in some rocks 
near the Frodsham Golf Links. Afterwards they went to 
the forest, but it was a day of good scent, and foxes 
•came away into the open, and almost invariably went back 
to the forest after ten minutes or a quarter of an hour. On 
another occasion I was with hounds in the forest all day long 
when scent was bad, the ground being very dry. It was at 
the end of the season, and I never saw so many foxes close 
together at that particular time of year, but hounds were 
terribly handicapped, and kept changing from one to another. 
I think on one or two of these days the proportion of women 
to men was the largest I ever saw in any hunt, and I was 
much struck with the fine quality of some of the horses. It 
was no easy matter to see what hounds were doing at times, 
but I saw twoi huntsmen at work — on different days — Short, 
and Walter Wilson, which latter was first, whipper-in, but car- 
ried the horn on one of the days. Short I had seen before in 
Essex, and found he was as capable a huntsman as he had 
been whipper-in fifteen years before. Wilson had, I thought, 
a wonderful voice in covert. My visits to the Wirral Har- 
riers were during the Mastership of Capt. Ker, between 1895 
and 1890, but I cannot fix the date. What I do remember 
is that one of them was, frc'm a riding and not from a hunt- 
ing point of view, one of the most extraordinary days I ever 
had with hounds, and that I saw some of the greatest thrust- 
ing it has ever been my lot to witness. As a matter of course, 
hares jerked about, and there was never any point, but we 
were in a grass country of small enclosures and very strongly 
fenced , with always one, sometimes two, ditches to each fence. 
There did not appear to be any particular reason why a 
number of these big fences should be jumped. Often there 
was no hurry, and a gate was handy, but there was a strong 
riding contingent of eight or ten, including one or two ladies, 
among the large field, and whenever the big fences appeared 
they went straight at them, and either got over or through, 
or came to grief. The Master, a very big man, and his very 


big huntsman, rode in remarkably bruising fashion, but in 
their case it was often sheer weight that got them through a 
big fence. There was a man — a light weight — on a chesnut 
polo pony, who particularly distinguished himself, jumping 
pne or two high and very awkward stiles in particular, but 
the pony he rode was a marvel and did all he was asked. 
Though it is more than twenty years ago, I can remember quite 
half a dozen exceptional jumps I saw taken that day, and I can 
recall how Capt. Ker remarked that all the big jumping seemed 
rather a waste of energy which would have been better distri- 
buted with the foxhounds. The Wirral Harriers have the 
Wirral peninsula between the rivers Mersey and Dee for their 
country, for the Cheshire do not go into that particular dis- 
trict, which is mostly dairyland, and from what I have seen 
in late years now much built over. It was of Wirral, I 
believe, that the French hunting enthusiast said : " What a 
lovely country, all ze ditches on ze ozerside." 

And a projios hare hunting in the north-west, I once saw 
a good deal of fun with a pack of beagles in Anglesey, which 
were maintained by Plenry, fourth Marquis of Anglesey, who 
h:ul been ]Ma?ter of the South Staffordshire from 1865 to 1872. 
I^ord Anglesey was an all-round sportsman who, besides hunt- 
ing with harriers and foxhounds, kept a strong kennel of grey- 
hounds, and was the patron of the very successful Lichfield 
Coursing Meetings, held over the Beaudesert estate. In the 
year 1889 (I think) I was at one of these meetings, and Lord 
Anglesey asked me to go on to Plas Newydd tO' see his beagles, 
and (incidentally) some coursing at Bangor. I had two days 
with the beagles on the island, in a very hilly grass country, 
where the fields were divided by high stone walls. As far as 
the hunting went it was much as with other beagle packs, but 
the pack was as smart a one as could be got together at that 
day, and the Master would have been a tremendous find for 
Surtees had the author of Jorrocks been living at the time. 
There was nothing peculiar about his way of hunting 
hounds — indeed, most of the job was left to the keinnel 
huntsman — but his costume I shall never forget. His short 
jacket of brightest gre-en was adorned with a scarlet collar; 
he had a black velvet cap of his own design, but of less than 
half the weight of an ordinary hunting cap, and he wore white 


kid gloves with two or three rings over them. Moreover, he 
had a couple of scarlet- jacketed personal attendants, who 
each carried a neat folding ladder which, when opened, was 
some four or five feet high. These ladders were used for the 
walls, one for the ascent, the other for the descent, and with- 
out them it would not have been an easy matter for an elderly 
man to see anything of hounds. Still the sport did not suffer 
owing to the Master's eccentricities of get-up, and the hunt 
was remarkably popular in the isleund of Anglesey. 


The Conditions of Hunting. 

Quite a number of letters have reached me from time to 
time which practically ask me to include a number of sub- 
jects in these papers that havci little concern with my past 
experiences as a follower of hounds. I cannot, for example, 
compare one particular country with another particular 
country — as I have been asked to do — ^because, though I know 
one of the two named very well indeed, my knowledge of the 
other is extremely superficial, owing to my having only seen 
it on two or three occasions, with long intervals between each 
visit. .But to one letter, which came from the Flanders front 
towards the end of the war, I can reply, and am very glad to do 
so. The writer, alter expressing a wish that the ' ' carrying-on 
of the hunts " would be successful, stated that, he and others 
who had read the series o>i articles would like my opinon on two 
points, viz. : As to the conditions of hunting; are they better 
or worse than when I began to hunt? And did I think that 
hounds had been improved, or the reverse? Both ol these are 
subjects on which a good deal can be said, and I will begin 
with the hound question, and may at once say that the whole 
matter is one of absorbing interest, which increases from year 
to year, and about which there are many side lines on which 
there are differences of opinion. Some hold to the idea that 
different hounds are required for different countries, while 
others affirm that a good hound is at home in every sort of 
country. It is often said to be the case that a certain type 
of horse does better in a hilly country than the upstanding, 
nearly thoroughbred animal who is perhaps a bit on the leg, 
but my experience is that the better a horse is bred the more 
able he is to go anywhere and everywhere, and, for example, 
the best stayer I saw in my visit to the Devon and Somerset 
country, which I wrote a few pages back, was a thorough- 
bred named " Gated," who had won steeplechases and had 
been in training for long enough. Moreover, the cleverest 
horse I ever rode in a country of steep hills was a thorough- 


bred, by Bass Rock, who was seventeen hands high, and so 
high on the leg that a small pony could almost run under 
him. In the case of hounds, I think it may be taken as proved 
that really well-made ones will go anywhere, but that hounds 
with indifferent shoulders will fall to pieces when tired, no 
matter what country they are hunting in. And I must make 
it plain that I can only write of what may be termed orthodox 
foxhounds. Of the hill packs which hunt the mountain 
countries of Cumberland and Westmorland and of the purely 
"Welsh hounds I shall write later, but I have seen, high- 
class working hounds which were descended from a Welsh 
strain, and I have one bitch named Handmaid in mind that 
always ran at head, and yet who on the flags would have been 
almost a disgrace to any good kennel. She was long and low, 
with something approaching a hare foot, and quite wanting 
in the upright carriage which one looks for in a high-class fox- 
hound. Yet she was a perfect demon on a fox, was always 
in front when hounds were running, and late in life was the 
mother of good stock. How eixactly this bitch was bred I do 
not know, but she was at the North Durham kennels through 
out the 'eighties, and in 1891 she bred a hound named Galopin 
to the Cleveland Galopin. This much the Foxhound Stud 
Book reveals, but the volume is dumb as to Handmaid's breed- 

One statement as to the difference between the modern fox- 
hound and the hound of from thirty to forty years ago can 
be made with full conviction, and that is that the present-day 
foxhound is better looking than his predecessor. The opinion 
is, as a matter of course, derived from an all-round point of 
view, and does not concern the individual hounds of any 
particular period. In other words, the average pack — and 
more particularly the provincial pack — now makes a much 
better appearance on the flags than it did, say, from a quarter 
to half a century ago. I do not say that the best-looking 
hounds which come to Peterborough are actually the hand- 
somest in the kingdom, for many good packs never send 
hounds to the shows. Nor do I say that there is improvement 
from year to year in the hounds which are shown, or that the 
champions of each year are better looking than the champions 
of a year before; but what I maintain is that the all-round 

Q 2 


standard is higher than it was at probably half the kennels 
in the kingdom. There is, in point of fact, an und escribed 
sitandard of merit, which requires size, strength, quality, and 
good shoulders, legs, and feet, and which cannot be set out 
or described by any hard-and-fast rule. The possession of all 
these qualities — in a greater or lesser degree — combined with 
bold and upright carriage, makes what is called the Peter- 
borough hound, and this combination of quality is recognised 
at a glance by the hound expert, but is probably a sealed book 
to those who have not a real eye for hounds. No doubt there 
have been at any time during the last hundred years many 
individual hounds of the very highest class, and as good in 
their work as they were to look at, but it is probably also the 
case, as far as one can judge from foxhound history, that at 
one time the kennels which contained the really smart packs 
were few and far between, and that at a majority of the more 
remotely placed keoinels no great amount of attention was paid 
to breeding, and that many of the packs, no matter what their 
working qualities might be, were uneven as a whole, both as 
regards height and size and in their general appearance. It is 
also almost certain that a great part of th.e improvement has 
been brought about by the puppy shows in the various oountriesi, 
and by the open shows at Peterborough and Reigate. I have 
sta,t€d how the puppy show has progressed during my 
experience, how from a small and unimportant func- 
tion it has, in most countries, become the great 
summer festival of the hunt; but I was writing of it in con- 
nection with its being a source of encouragement of hound 
interest, and now I may add that it has undoubtedly brought 
about a spirit of emulation among Masters of hounds. Time 
was when the average country pack was seldom visited in 
kennel except by the members of its own particular hunt, and 
when the expert stranger was almost unknown. Before the 
war, however, a great number of Masters saw many 
kennels besides their own in the course of the summer, and 
notably there would be a regular levee at Bel voir on the day 
before Peterborough, and another at Milton on the same day, 
which was frequently the puppy show day as well. Then 
Masters tour about the country, judging each other's puppies, 
while in the actual season they see far more of other packs in 
the field than their fathers and grandfathers did. 


All this means a broadening of ideas as to hounds, and the 
result which has been gradually, but firmly, established is 
that the sort of hound which can win at Peterborough is the 
sort to be aimed at by breeders, and that variations from type 
should be " put down." And I am inclined to think that 
these variations from type are far less common than they used 
to be, simply because the eliminating process has been in 
action for many years at many kennels, and this means that 
the odd hound of unorthodox appearance has practically dis- 
appeared. As far as I can gather, when fewer hounds were 
bred and Masters did not strive so' determinedly to reach a 
certain standard, there were occasionally odd hounds or even 
an odd litter that was ungainly, perhaps too big and clumsy, 
more frequently too small, or with formation that was not 
correct. A Master who was a genuine hound man would con- 
demn such hounds at once, but in other cases, where the 
Master was less particular, where very few puppies 
were bred, and there was little margin in the matteir 
of numbers, the odd hound would be entered, and kept on if 
he was good in his work. Probably the average hunting man 
of to-day has never even seen the sort of hound I have in 
mind, but I can remember such hounds, and I have, within 
the last five-and-twenty years, seen a mixed pack, where the 
height ranged from barely over twenty to well above five-and- 
twenty inches, where flat sides and bad legs and feet were con- 
spicuous, and where a little " dressing " was badly needed. 
I mention no names or locality, but the pack I have in mind 
is now up to show form, thanks to a capable Master, who 
changed the kennel system, and went to his neighbours for 
blood. But what my coirrespondent in Flanders wanted also to 
know is whether I thought thei Peterborough show has done 
good, and to this I answeir most certainly iti has, if only because 
it has improved the all-round standard all over the cO'Untiy, 
and encouraged the using by one keiineil of honnds froim other 
kennels which may be hundreds of miles away. A Master in 
need of fresh blood goes to Peterborough and sees just the 
hound or kennel type that he is looking for, and straightway 
sends his bitches to the kennel he approves. One Master 
wishes to correct rather heavy shoulders, another wants more 
bone, or greater size in his hounds, wliile a third has hounds 
which are deficient in quality. Peterborough acts as an ex- 


change in the foxhound world, and is widely welcomed on that 
account. There is, as a matter of course, the fact that the 
judges are different from year to year, and that sometimes 
judges have a slightly different idea as to the relative merits 
of hounds. A majority now go for the massive, heavy type, 
while some others are all for quality, and not such sticklers 
for bone and size. But as all recognise that certain conditions, 
such as straightness of limb, must be acknowledged, it follows 
that there are not many real differences of opinion. One judge 
likes a heavy hound, the other a lighter one, but if there 
should be one of each type in a competitiou, and the good, 
heavy dog is a better hound than the light one, or vice versa, 
it is good odds that the better hound, no matter of which type 
he is, will get the verdict. If the two judges do not agree 
there is always a mass of expert knowledge round the ring 
from which a referee is instantly forthcoming. 

The question of heavy or rather lighter hounds does not 
affect the question as to whether hounds have improved, but 
it is an important matter, and though some may prefer the 
24in. hound, of beautiful quality and endowed with great 
elegance, to the more weighty hound an inch higher, the fact 
remains that a fair standard of height cannot be maintained 
in any kennel unless the big hounds are used. In other words, 
there must be big bitches to breed the big hounds, and so 
maintain the size, and big bitches cannot as a rule be bred 
unless they are sired by big dog hounds. There are exceptions, 
and a huntsman told me not long ago that the smallest bitch 
at his kenned was thei daou of the two biggest bitches and 
of the biggest dog hound in the pack; but he added that she 
came of a big strain, though she herself was so wanting in size. 
To me it always appears that when there is great size clumsi- 
ness is apt to creep in; but the massive 25in. hound 
is probably the most perfect dog in tlie world, and if one 
frequently sees more quality in hounds which are not so 
big, this hardly applies to bitches, some of the very big ones 
being brimful of quality, and with bone which is quite in 
keeping with their size. Bone in bitches is nothing like so pro- 
nounced as it is in dog hounds, and this is another reason why 
hounds with really big bone should be used at the stud. In 
some kennels 1 have seen bitches that were really beautiful 


as to neck and shoulders, and with quite remarkable quality, 
but every one of them light of bone, and I have seen good- 
looking dog hounds bred from similar bitches that were also 
very deficient in bone. If constitution and stamina are to^ be 
achieved, there must be pronounced bone in the modern 
foxhound, and in my opinion — formed by taking note of 
the sire and dam of any particular hound which appeared 
to be well off or badly off for bone — bone is even more 
important than height. Yet Belvoir Gambler was only 23^in. 
in height. 

It is not an easy matter to decide exactly what are meant 
by the " conditions " of hunting, and I am not quit© clear 
what it is that my correspondeint means, but I think I can give 
some idea of the changes which have taken place since I began 
to hunt, and from these he can form his own opinion. First, 
then, the greatest change which has occurred with regard to 
the physical condition of nearly every country in the kingdom 
is the advent of barbed wire. This horrible — as regards hunt- 
ing — ^invention had not been discovered when I began to hunt, 
and did not appear for many years afterwards, while when it 
first appeared its growth was very gradual indeed, and in 
many countries it was unknown long after it had become com- 
mon near big centres of population. Now it is to be found 
everyTvhere, and though it has been regularly taken down at 
the beginning of the season and replaced in the spring in a 
great number of districts, the fact remains that there are other 
districts in great numbers where the wire is permanent, and 
certain to remain so. The taking down process is being ooai- 
tinued, but I heard only a week or two ago of new wire being 
put up, fixed to old railway sleepers, placed as posts, and 
where there was so littlei of the old fenoet left, that it looked, 
as my informant remarked, " as if it was intended to be a 
permanent job." This was in one) of the most importa.nt mid- 
land countries, and hardly augurs well for thei future. 

What is quite certain is that from a riding point of view the 
country is nothing like so good as it was when wire was un- 
known. Just think what it meant, viz., that a horse could be 
ridden at any sort of fence with the knowledge that if he failed 
to get over, his failure was due either to the jump being beyond 
his powers or to his making a mistake in jumping. One rode 


with more oonfidenoe in the pre-wire days,and well do I remem- 
ber the consteamatiou which the advent of barbed wire caused. 
Luckily, the first strands put up, when I became acquainted 
with the evil, were new, very bright, and easily seen, but the 
particular line of wire I have in mind was half a mile long, 
forming one boundary of a farm, and it remains there to this 
day. This particular wire was, I have always understood, put 
up by a non-resident landlord who had promised new boundary 
fences to a fresh tenant of a somewhat neglected farm, but 
the new wire cut the usual line of hounds between two small 
coverts, not more than a mile apart, and ever since the 
" field " has had to use the gates, which involves a consider- 
able detour. Indeed^ I can go further than this, for I know 
of places which are permanently closed to riders owing to wire, 
and which, when hounds follow a fox through them, compel 
the huntsman and all riders to go about half a mile round. 
This is what is known as a " birdcage," and doubtless there are 
in these days numbers of other " birdcages " in various parts 
of the country. Personally, I can without much trouble think 
of at least a dozen accidents due to wire, and I have seen 
hounds badly torn by it on several occasions. Once, indeed, 
I saw a southern pack with a fox close in front of them charge 
a fence formed of four strands of barbed wire with a plain 
double wire on the top, and at least half a dozen couples were 
badly torn. I have seen, too, more than once, a single strand 
of wire about a foot above the ground, and four feet or so out 
from a thick fence, and entirely hidden from the view of those 
on the far side. One such place I have in mind, and as soo)> 
as it was known of — early in the cubbing syste^m — a man was 
sent there with a couple of danger posts. These he put up 
far too low in the fence, and the first time hounds crossed the 
field two horses jumped into the wire, one of them being ven- 
badly cut. I do not think these traps are very common, and 
I have heard of more than one which was removed when the 
holder of the land came to know what had taken place; but 
they are one of the conditions of present-day hunting, and 
must therefore be mentioned. 

And anyhow, the broad fact remains that wire is enormously 
used, both as new fencing and to mend gaps in old fences, and 
that although in pre-war days a great deal of this was taken 


down during the hunting season, this is not the case every- 
where, and though a hard-riding field may ride up to hounds 
over miles of country, they may at any time be thrown out 
owing to wire, while hounds go straight on. In the poorer 
hunts far less wire is removed than in the richer establish- 
ments, and how often during an ordinary season does one read 
that " the huntsman could not get to hounds owing tO' wire," 
or that " the field was compelled to make a detour because of 
such and such a farm being heavily wired." To sum up this 
part of the subject, wire has interfered with the average hunts- 
man's duties, has curtailed the pleasure of riding to hounds, 
and has increased the danger to all who follow hounds from 
field to field. There are in these days many arrangements 
whereby the wire trouble is in some degree met. The danger 
signal, if placed high enough in the fence, so that it is visible 
a long way off, prevents many a follower from going at the 
tempting- looking fence which conceals the treacherous cord. 
Then, too, there is the " invitation " jump, often a bushed 
hurdle, as in the North Staffordshire country, at other times 
a low, strongly-built stone wall, as in the Tynedale country. 
But the invitation jump is not always an unmixed blessing, 
for it often involves leaving the line of hounds for a time, and 
where the field is really large the ground sometimes becomes 
terribly poached and greasy. The fences though easily jump- 
able, is often very strongly built, and I have myself seen several 
falls at invitation jumps, which were due to horses slipping as 
they took off. The low stone wall one finds in parts of the 
north of England must be cleared, and is a very simple jump, 
but if a horse hits it he is rather likely to fall for it does not 
give way like a hurdle. Tt is generally to be found where the 
actual fence of the field is a stone wall of five feet high and 
upwards, and with a sta'aiid of wire^ or a sheep-rail on the top, 
while the made jump is some two feet lower, and has fre- 
quently a. top of loose gorse bushes, which, if they have not 
removed on a hunting day, can be pulled out by the handle 
of a hunting-crop. It will be seen then that all sorts of dodges 
have been resorted to in order to minimise the wire trouble, 
and perhaps the simplest of all is the hunting wicket, which, 
if a well-made one, perhaps suits the average farmer better 
than the invitation jump. But I have seen many hunting- 


wickets which were too narrow, and others that were badly 
hung, others again which swung back after each horse had 
passed through, and yet again others which were so heavy that 
it was almost inapossible to hold them open in a high wind. It 
would seem to be a simple thing to make hunting-wickets of 
fair width and which opened and shut readily, but there have, 
I think, been more failures over this class of wire antidote than 
ail ordinary man would think possible, and I believe that the 
man who patented a really good wicket and did not charge 
too much for it would sell a great number. 

Wire is, as I have said, the greatest change which the 
country, judged from a hunting standpoint, has known in my 
time, and I am inclined to think that the increase in the size 
of many fields is another of the great changes. I cannot, as 
a matter of course, speak of the numbers which were seen with 
a whole host of packs before the war, and I actually know of 
certain packs which have a smaller following than they had 
fifty years ago; but where this has occurred there have been 
reasons for the decline, and in one country which I know well, 
the smaller fields are principally due to the fact that a very 
large area of the original country has been given up, owing 
to the increase of industrialism, and that the hunting residents 
in that part of the country have gone further afield for their 
sport. There are, no doubt, many who greatly dislike hunt- 
ing in, or even near, an industrial district, or in a country that 
savours of suburbanism, or is full of thickly-populated villages. 
I very much dislike those conditions myself, and greatly prefer 
a semi-wild country, in which hounds can work out a line with 
little chance of their fox being headed, and where those who 
follow hounds have the country to themselves. This may be 
a selfish view, but my feeling is that a crowd at a meet is 
desirable, as also are foot- followers of the real sporting sort, 
who follow hounds because they really appreciate what is 
going on; but for the real business of hunting great crowds 
of people on foot are terribly in the way, though I can think 
of exceptional occasions, such as when a certain covert is drawn 
on certain New Year's Day meets, in which, when hounds were 
put in, there would be groups of pedestrians at all the cross- 
rides, and literally thousands on the high ground above the 
covert'. This was near to, but not exaotJy in, a, colliery 


district, and the miners who formed the crowd were such a 
sportiug lot that their presence was welcomed a,nd appreciated. 
But it is the riding following which has caused changes by- 
its increased size, and more than half of this increase is to be 
found in the fact that there are five-and-twenty ladies hunting 
for eveiy one there was forty years ago. In this direction the 
increase has been literally enormous, and it is not too much 
to say that in some countries the softer sex numbers quite as 
strongly as the male followers of the pack. This means that 
fields have doubled in size, here, there, and almost eiverywhere, 
but as a matter of fact some fields have been more than doubled 
because there has been a steady increase in the number of male 
followers to be added to the lady increase. The upshot of it 
all is that hounds are frequently too much pressed, especially 
in the early portion of the day, and very often neither hounds 
nor huntsman have fair play. All foxes do' not leave the same 
amount of smell behind them, and all land does not carry the 
same scent, while undoubtedly there is great variation of the 
scent-yielding properties of each particular fox, and the 
weather conditions of the moment. A fox will break covert 
in view of a large and resolute field, and if riders can be re- 
strained until hounds are out of covert — which cannot always 
be done — they will, as soon as hounds are on, break away in 
a huge mass, and if scent happens to be poor and the pace 
bad, be on to the top of the pack almost immediately. Then 
the huntsman often hurries on the pack, and two-thirds of 
the field, not knowing whether hounds are actually running 
or not, will hustle after them, driving them well over the line, 
hindering the huntsman in his work, and doing the hounds- 
an infinity of harm. This is one of the difficulties which the 
bigger fields have brought about, and that it is encountered 
very frequently in various parts of the country admits of no 
dispute. On the other hand, there are quite a number of 
Masters of hounds who have succeeded in coping with it, and 
who, in point of fact, will not allow over-riding to take place. 
Such men are the saviours of modern hunting, and where they 
are in office sport is unifoitnly better than where over-riding 
is not properly kept in check. And here I may state my 
opinion that the office of Master of hounds exacts much more 
care and attention and involves much more trouble than it 
did a couple of gemerataons ago. 


Some years ago Masters of hounds were perhaps more easily 
found than they were, say, in the decade immediately preced- 
ing the war. What will happen in the future when countries 
become vacant it is impossible to say, but it is the case that 
the Masters who were in office during the summer of 1914 held 
on to their duties with wonderful accord. Quite a consider- 
able number of those who went back to or joined the forces 
still continued their mastership, appointing a deputy — very 
often their wives — to carry on in their absence. Indeed, one 
and all showed extraordinary spirit in the matter of carrying 
on, and it may he the case that there will in many 
countries be less of the " pomp and circumstance " of 
the hunt, and therefore a decrease in expenditure. This, how- 
ever, is not my theme, for I am still trying to give some 
idea of the changes in the conditions of hunting which have 
taken place during the last two generations. I may say 
at the outset, then, that the travelling Master, who took a 
pack in a country which was not his own by birth or residence, 
was by no means unknown fifty years ago, and even before. 
Indeed, Surtees in his novels has scores of references to stranger 
INIasters; but I am inclined to think that the number has 
greatly increased, and it passes through my mind that I 
have at the moment two friends, and both twenty years 
or more younger than I am, who have each had three 
separate and distinct countries, hundreds of miles apart, 
and who evidently love mastership, and all its triumphs and 

Time was when, except in some of the Shire countries, the 
Masters of the provincial packs were, in nine oases out of ten, 
local men with many and varied interests in the country which 
they hunted, and as a broad general rule the local Master was 
the right man in the right place. His knowledge of hunting 
and his enthusiasm were known before he was appointed, and 
on his side he had the advantage of knowing his followers, the 
landlords within his district, and generally a considerable 
number of the farmers. He was in a majority of cases a land 
and covert owner himself, and he knew where fox preservation 
was strict and where it was slack. He also very often knew 
how to strengthen the weak places in his country ; but in many 
ways matters were much more simple for him than they have 


been in later years. I can think of two Masters who in my 
young days were popular and successful, emphatically the 
right men in the right place; but their duties were practically 
confined to mastership in the field, and, as far els their countries 
were concerned, there was really nothing for them to do. One 
of the two I have in mind was a member of Parliament, and 
engaged in business as well, and over a period of several years 
I never remember to have seen him in the heart of his country 
except on a hunting day. He paid occasional visits to the 
kennels, no doubt; but he was too busy to give attention to 
the country, and, as a matter of fact, many countries in those 
days required no attention. The other man I am thinking 
of never even lived in his country, though he had rooms at 
a small hotel not far from one of his two kennels. He hunted 
three days a week, and on the other three days was at the 
head of a large business, and he never saw his country except 
in the hunting season, for he hacked home five-and-twenty 
miles or so after hunting, and really only kept his rooms to 
dine (sometimes) and change in. The fact is that the great 
question of fox preservation had hardly cropped up in those 
days, and in the countries of the two Masters I am thinking 
of the shooting tenant was almost unknown. All through the 
country there was a feeling that a vulpecide was a criminal 
who was without the pale, and I am much inclined to think 
that this feeling was the greatest asset which the hunts had, 
for there were always plenty of foxes everywhere, and blank 
days were almost unknown, and if they did occur were gener- 
ally due to an overnight storm or to inefficient stopping. In 
certain places where foxes were too numerous litters would be 
moved in the spring to other parts of the country, and in these 
expeditions I frequently assisted. Indeed, I have mentioned 
how I transferred three litters of cubs from the northern to 
the southern part of the old " Durham County " country, 
and that was only one of many such undertakings, usually 
performed in the company of the late Mr. John Greenwell, 
of Broomshields, or of his cousin, the latei Mr. Alan Green- 
well, of Durham. 

But at none of these expeditions was there any sign of a 
Master. "We were merely asked to take a few cubs to such and 
such a place, and the message would come from the secretary 


of the hunt and not from the Master. And even the secretary 
was not much about the country during the summer, and the 
" moves " were, as a matter of fact, decided on at the end 
of a season, when the bigwigs of the hunt had come to the 
conclusion that there was a shortage in one particular district 
and too many foxes in another. And here I may point out 
that hounds killed no more foxes in my early days than they 
now do. In some districts, indeed, I know for a fact that the 
number of kills has in recent years been far larger than it 
was in the 'sixties and 'seventies. But I have a very strong 
opinion — ^indeed, I am perfectly certain — that the increase in 
kills is in some degree due to the fact that the fox breed is 
nothing like so strong as it was when I began to hunt. There 
were before the war more foxes all over the kingdom than 
there were thirty or forty years before, and the best of them 
were, no doubt, quite as good as the best of former genera- 
tions; but there has been, and may still be, a leaven of weak 
foxes, and in consequence a greater number are killed. On 
this particular subject my mind is firmly made up, and I will 
give my reasons for my belief. In the first place, epidemic 
mange — as distinguished from the mange which was occasion- 
ally found on a very old fox — was unheard of thirty yeaxs 
ago, but has since then penetrated into nearly every country; 
in the second place, shooting tenants and keepers, who were 
quite reckless in their attitude towards hunting, had (before 
the war) multiplied tenfold, and with their coming they intro- 
duced the barbarous habit of taking up cubs in the spring, 
keeping them in confinement all the summer, and putting 
them down just before hounds came to draw their coverts. I 
have seen in more than one country two or three couples of 
such cubs mopped up by a pack of hounds in an hour or two, 
and I must say that such a thing was impossible where I first 
began to understand hunting, though in that particular 
country cub-hunting was from a month to six weeks later 
than it was farther south, and oft^en waa hardly begun before 

Some years ago, during a long conversation with a veteran 
ex-Master, who was following hounds on wheels, I asked why 
.at the time I refer to the number of kills was so small com- 
pared with what it had since been in the same country. The 


old gentleman was up in anns in a momemt, replying that in 
an enormous number of the best runs the fox got to ground 
beyond the country that was " stopped." " In those days," 
he v/ent on, " a professional earth-stopper did almost all the 
stopping, and, though he was at work all night, he could only 
travel the district nearest to where hounds were going to 
draw." This is very true, for I have seen a diary of hunting 
in that country in the late 'thirties and early 'forties of last 
century in which good runs, with long points, to ground were 
very frequent. This, however, does not apply everywhere, 
and most certainly not where there are " stub bred " foxes, 
as in some of the home and southern counties. 

But to return to the Master. He has in these days heavier 
expenses to meet than his predecessor of a generation or two 
ago, a larger field to govern on hunting days, a dozen claims 
for poultry or other damage where there used to be one, and 
the always insistent question of the fox supply. For although 
there were more foxes than ever in the aggregate a few years 
ago, thejy were unevenly distributed, and while there were 
too many for sport in one hunt, they might easily be far too 
few in the neighbouring country. Much depended on whether 
the hunting or the shooting interests were strongest from a 
social point of view, and much also depended upon the tact 
and geniality of the Master. A too liberal Master, like Mr. 
Pufiington, is bad for a country, but a really mean Master, 
like Sir Moses Mainchaiice, is literally a curse. And the happy 
medium is not always forthcoming; but a genial manner, and 
ample tact will often succeed where largesse will fail, and in 
these days a popular Master is just as essential as an unpopular 
Master is dangerous. The Master of a generation or two ago 
had a far simpler task than the Master of the present day, 
for not only was the price of horses much lower, but so too 
were forage, wages, rates, and a whole host of incidentals. I 
am writing, of course, of the days before the war, and taking 
no account of the inflated prices which the war brought about. 
And I do not know that the stopping was any 
worse in the days of the professional, for many 
keepers have always been too lazy, and scores of 
foxes are constantly missed because earths have been put 
to before dark in the evening or early in the morning of a 


hunting day, either before the foxes have left or after they 
have returned in fact, and I had proof of this onJy two or 
three years ago. I was staying with a friend to see a pack that 
,was new to me, and they drew his covert — a large oak wood 
with a hazel bottom — blank. My friend was much annoyed ^ 
and when he returned from hunting — ^we had come home early, 
and there was still an hour of daylight^ — he walked up to the 
earth and found it closed. He opened it, and retired some 
eighty yards to a coign of vantage among the hazels, and we 
had not been watching the earth a quarter of an hour when a 
fox appeared. We then left the place, and passing through 
the wood caught up two small boys, who, it appeared, were 
the children of the coachman. What were they doing in the 
covert my friend asked, and they told him they went that 
way and returned to and from school. " Do you ever see any- 
one in the wood? " they were asked. " Only ," mean- 
ing the keeper ; " he was going up the path this morning as we 
went to school." This was a clear case of a morning instead 
of an overnight stop, and the keeper heard a good deal about 
it, with the result that the covert was not drawn blank again 
that season. The professional, as far as I have known him, 
did his work very thoroughly, if in a somewhat limited area; 
but hig days were numbered when the era of big shoots set in, 
for the average modern keeper would not even allow the earth- 
stopper on his ground, instead of helping him as many of the 
old keepers did. To me when a boy it was an unmixed delight 
to go the rounds with the earth-stopper, and I well remember 
that not only did the keeper on the estate where he began go 
with him and help with a series of stops, but that, somewhere 
about midnight we used tO' be joined by the keeper on the 
next beat. When the work was over the professional cam© 
back with me, and we spent the early hours of the morning 
in a warm harness room, where a long settle and a bundle of 
rugs for a pillow did duty instead of a bed. 

Another change of some importance which has gradually 
been brought about in some, but by no means in all hunting 
countries, is the difficulty which the Mastetr has in finding 
covert® in which autumn hunting is freely allowed, and where 
there is no question of " hounds must not come until after 
the first, second, or even the third shoot." As regards this 


question I confine myself tO' my own experience, though I have 
at times known of dozens of cases of which I had no personal 
knowledge. Indeed, I have received at the Field Office during 
a course of years many letteirs from Masters of hounds com- 
plaining of the difficulty in which they were placed, and I have 
actually known of more than one resignation of office, owing 
to the scarcity of coverts open to hounds in the early autumn. 
Wheitheir all this will crop up again I do not know, but as 
the hand-reared pheasants have almost entirely disappeared 
it may be that the big bags which were the aim of many covert? 
owners and shooting tenants have gone for good, and that 
covert shooting will be conducted on more simple lines. In my 
early days I had the good fortune to live in a country where 
game preservation did not interfere with fox hunting, and 
where such a thing as strained relations between hunting men 
and shooters were absolutely unl^nown. Surtees, writing on 
this very subject, makes Proudlock, the gamekeeper at Beldon 
Hall, when asked about the fox preservers in his neighbour- 
hood, reply: " Well (hum), there are (hum) scaly people in 
all countries." But if there were any in the countries where 
I first hunted I never heard of them. And there was plenty 
of game preservation, with a gamekeeper on every estate, but 
the shooting men were, for the most part, the hunting men 
also, and they preserved foxes as strictly as they did their 
game. The several Masters of my early days took hounds 
exactly where they wished, and had to consult no one about 
their meets. Men fixed their shooting days after they had. 
seen the listi of hounds' appointmentiS, and if it were found 
that there was likely to be any clashing it was the shooting 
day that wasi altered. Moreover, there was a, general feeling 
throughout the country that the fox was a sacred animal, and 
once when a dead fox was found when hounds were drawing 
a. ooverti the whole field was horrified, until a, farm laboiurer 
appeared with the information that the carcasei had been lying 
there since the last time hounds were in the covert, and that 
he had been intending tO' bury it, but had forgotten to do so. 

Some twenty years or more after the period I have been 
writing about I was hunting in quite another part of the 
kingdom, and I quickly found that such and such a covert, was 
closed to hounds until after a certain day in November; that 


if hounds ran towards another covert before Christmas the 
Master was expected to stop them; and that with regard to 
quite a number of estates the hunting days could not be 
arranged until the holder of the shooting rights had been con- 
sulted. Here, too, there was great difficulty in finding suitable 
places for cub-hunting, and, though the hunt had a large fol- 
lowing and the country was full of first-rate sportsmen, there 
were innumerable little difficulties with which the Master had 
to contend, and most of which were probably quite unknown 
to the " field." In this respect a modem Master was 
at a disadvantage when compared with the Master of forty 
or fifty years belorei. Another difficulty which is of 
comparatively recent standing is the increase of claims for 
compensation of various kinds. In every hunt nowadays there 
is a big list of poultry claims, and in addition there are claims 
for damage of all sorts. No doubt the damage to fences and 
crops is greater than it once was, owing to' the increase in the 
size of the fields, while there are probably a dozen poultry- 
keepers scattered about the country for every one there used 
to be. In some of the smaller hunts the poultry fund is a 
thing of quit© recent years, and it is just possible that some 
of the extremely provincial hunts still do without them. In- 
deied, less than twenty years ago a Master of our acquaintance 
had a claim which, when examined, was found to belong to 
the neighbouring hunt. He then wrote to the Master of tha 
hunt, explaining the matter, and in reply received a letter 
which, after setting forth at some length that there was still 
a doubt as to which hunt was liable, concluded with the remark 
that " we pay no poultry claims." This was quite final, and 
when the aggrieved loser of poultry was interviewed he stated 
that he had sent in his claim tO' the hunt which he knew paid 
for damage, for it was no use troubling the others. On the 
other side of the question, it may be stated that in some hunts 
upwards of a thousand a year is paid for poultry damage, and 
that in a big majority of what I may term the average hunts 
the amount runs into several hundred pounds annually; and 
if the claims are not promptly paid it is generally the Master 
who is bothered and who has to ward off both written and 
verbal attacks. I remember once seeing hounds draw a covert 
alongside a lane, in which a biggish field was collected. There 


was no fox, aud houuds when drawn out crossed the lane a 
quarter of a mile from where the field were standing, and pro- 
ceeded to the next covert. The route for the " field " was 
along an occupation road, whence there was a lodge and a 
light gate, and to this they turned. A woman came out oi 
the lodge, stood in front of thei gate, and shouted out that no 
one should come through until she had been paid for her hens, 
which, she said, a fox had taken. There was some argument, 
and a shout for the secretary, who was somewhere in the 
crowd, but before he could settle the matteir the second 
whipper-in came galloping up, and as the crowd opened he 
realised what was taking place, and, jumping the gate^ — not 
a high one — sihouted in a loiud voice: " My master '11 give you 
a Christmas box, old lady." There was a roar of laughter 
and the woman being off her guard, someone opened the gate 
and everyone went through. On arrival at the covert, it was 
evident the Master had been told whati had taken place, for hei 
at once sent the whipper-in back with a sovereign, and a pro- 
mise that the full claim should be paid at once. 

Perhaps there has been less change with regard toi covert 
funds than with any other financial parts of hunting, for the 
covert fund is geinerally used for the maintenance of the gorse 
coverts, which are not of great shooting value, and which have 
been in very many cases planted by the hunt, or individual 
members thereof. But in addition to covert funds there are 
in these days many shootings which are taken by Masters of 
hounds, by individual members of hunts, or by syndicates of 
hunting men, with a view to fox preservation. I know of one 
hunt in which the Master and his friends have so much of the 
shooting taken tliat they are almo'siti indepeindent, a.nd I know 
of other places in which the shooting syndicate works admir- 
ably. All this, of course, means greatly increased expendi- 
ture, both on the part of Masters and of enterprising hunting 
men. And in increased expenditure is to be found one of the 
greatest changes which has come over hunting during the last 
two generations. For example, the price of horses has, 
broiadly sipeaking, doubled in my time, which meansi that the 
horso which could be bought for from £60 to £80 now costs 
from £130 to £160, and the horse obtainable fifty years ago 

R 2 


at the lasti named price is now not to be liad mucih under £300, 
HigL, even very high, prices were occasionally given in the^ 
shires nearly a hundred years ago, but in the cases which have 
been handed down — in the Sporting Magazine, in the Druids' 
works, and elsewhere — the big money was almost invariably- 
paid for a celebrity who had already distinguished himself in 
the hunting fields of the Midlands. Now hundreds are asked, 
and paid, for young horses of no experience, which are sold 
chiefly on their good looks and quality, and in some cases 
because they have won a first or secured a minor prize in a class 
for four- or five-year-olds at a fairly important horse show. 
And as the speed of hounds has been increased the pace of 
horsies is more important than it once was, and this is the chief 
reason for the rise. 

What I have just written raises up a big question, and I am 
not absolutely sure that high-class hounds go faster on a good 
scent in a grass country than they did, say, two generations 
ago. What I do feel sure about is that the average so-called 
provincial pack has, thanks to the care taken in breeding and 
the free use of blood from the best kennels, improved its pace 
in no small degree. There are, it need hardly be said, days on 
which hounds can hardly walk after a fox, but there are others 
on which it is difficult for even thoroughbred horses to live 
with them, and I am much inclined to think that in recent 
years I have seen hounds beat horses more frequently than 
they did years ago. Indeed I feel quite certain that, from 
an all-round point of view, the pace of hounds has increased, 
and horse-dealers, having long since recognised the fact, have 
for some years been supplying an animal with more breeding 
and quality, and far higher on the leg than the hunters which 
did duty for the fathers and grandfathers of the present hunt^ 
ing generation. And I may add that the demand for these 
speedy, and therefore more valuable hunters, is by no means 
confined to the shires, or other grass countries, but to be found 
in all the more important provincial hunts. I remember one 
of thei biggest dealers in the higheist class of hunters telling me, 
some half-dozen years ago, that his best customers came from 
all parts of the kingdom, and he mentioned two hunts which, 
in his opinion, could show the best collection of horses, neither 


of which was a shire oountry, and one wa-s not even in the 
Midlands. I may add that the old-fashioned, powerfully 
made, short-backed and short-legged (as judged by present- 
day standards) hunter which could carry about sixteen stone 
throughout a long day, and jump every sort of fence, is hardly 
to be found at the present time. He, when he is found, is 
not fast enough for the days of burning scent, and the men 
who rode him have given way to a generation who require 
horses nearly a hand taller, with a longer reach, and greater 
speed — and which can only be purchased at a high figure. 

We have it established then that the price of horseflesh has 
gone up, as well as the cost of maintenance of a country, the 
latter because there are more claims to pay, more to be pulled 
out for fox preservation, more for puppy shows, hunt horse 
•societies, and so forth; but individual expenses for saddlery, 
clothes, and equipment generally have also risen in a consider- 
able degree. Subscriptions have also risen, the minimum in 
many hunts now being quite as much as what the three-or- 
four-days-a-week man paid fifty years ago. Wages, too, are 
•even now much higher than they were before the war, and 
whereas good strappers some years ago would only take on 
two horses in a well-regulated stable, three and a hack were 
often the work of a single man in earlier times. Another 
great change is the manner of reaching meets of hounds, for 
before and since the war about ninei-tenths of eivery field 
reached the scene of action in motor-cars, while the odd tenth 
were hunting so near home that the car was a superfluity. 
Hunting with a motor-car to the meet, and left somewhere for 
the homeward journey, means seldom more than from four to 
five hour j in thesaddle, and thus himting people generally have, 
in recent years, spent little more than half the time in actual 
riding that their forefathers did. Long rides to distant meets 
were the lot of scores of people before the motor came; but some 
hunting people drove, and a fair number used the train when 
•convenient. Even some of the old school prefer to hack when 
possible, and just before the war I heard of a Warwickshire 
lady, whose daughter was going home in a motor, declining the 
offer of a lift, as she " preferred to bump home." She had 
nearly twenty miles to travel. 

War Tike and After. 

Iti is hardly necessary to explain how thoroughly hiuiting 
was upset' by the Great War, for the fact is wedl within 
the knowledge of all hunting people. The marvellous thing^ 
about it is that the killing of foxes by hounds — much of it 
could hardly be called sport — was carried on through four 
dreary seasons, and practically nothing was heard about it 
except in its own immediate locality. Just at first the most 
noticeable thing was a falling off in the size of the fields, 
which took place everywhere. All soldiers, both regular and 
territorial, at once took their departure, and very soon all 
young civilians disappeared, the riding element in the country 
quickly joining up, so quickly indeed that some who had never 
served before were actually killed in France before the war 
was two months old. As the months progressed the fields grew 
smaller and smaller. Many hunting folks of both sexes 
decided that they would not hunt in war time. Many took 
on war work of various kinds, while great numbers who were 
well advanced in years rejoined some branch of the service 
which they had left nearly half a lifetime ago. " White- 
headed veterans and girls still in their teens form my present 
field," said th.e master of a well-known pack when the war was 
little more than a year old, but worse things to hunting were 
still to come, viz., the conscription, which cleared off all the 
younger hunt servants, grooms, and gamekeepers who Jiad 
not already joined up (great, numbers of all these classes were 
already serving, but of course there were some left). Then 
came the destroying of half of every pack in the kingdom., the 
difficulty in procuring horses for the hunt servants, and the 
tremendous rise in prices, which caused the maintenance of a. 


pack cf hounds or a stable to be inorea&ed by something like 
one hundred and fifty per cent. 

During the latter part of the war, and more particularly in 
the season, which had just begun when the armistice was 
announced, hound shortage was the greatest difiiculty which 
masters and hunt servants had to contend with. Packs which 
were reduced to half their former strength, and this applies 
most particularly to many provincial packs which had never 
been ol great numerical strength, were severely handicapped in 
their attempts to kill foxes, and at several of the bigger estab- 
lishments the hunting days had to be cut down, owing both to 
horse and to hound shortage. At many kennels veny few, at 
others no hounds were bred for two, and in some instances, 
three seasons, for the simple reason that while the country was 
rationed in almost everything there was noi food toi spare, and 
especially no milk, for young hounds. Fortunately, hunt 
subscriptions were continued, not perhaps as they had been 
before the war, but still in sufficient quantity to allow the 
hunts being carried on by a greatly reduced staff. As regards 
the actual hunting I am inclined to think that the lack of 
stopping was almost the greatest difficulty iti had to face. In 
some countries no stopping was done at all for two or three 
seasons, for the younger gamekeepers and watchers, who do 
mostol the stopping nowadays, had gone to the war, and there 
was plenty of work for all the older men in every country 
parish. Day after day hounds were disappointed by the opem 
earth or drain, and though digging was resorted to when 
feasible, there was no rush of spade voluntieers as there is at 
ordinary times. And a propos digging of foxes, all hunting 
people must know that almost invariably when it is decided toi 
dig, men and boys seem to appear quite suddemly, noi matter 
how remote the place may be. As an example, within a. fort.- 
night of the present moment of writing I saw a well-hunted fox 
run to ground in a Welsh dingle late in the afternoon of a late 
November day, and in something like twenty minutee nine men 
and half a dozen farm boys had appeared, carrying spades, 
forks, and so forth. 

Personally I saw very little hunting during the war, but I 
was in a fairly good position to know what was taking placei in 
the hunting world. Briefly I may mention a few of my own 


experiences, which I have little doubt were similar toi those of 
othera who attempted to find out what " carrying on " meant. 
Whem the war was five months old I stayed a few days with a 
Northern Master, but saw no hunting. It is true I had every 
intention of haiving a day with a neighbouring pack, and sent 
horses on to a meet, but my host was at that time bu3ring horses 
for the Government, and he was that morning notified of cer- 
tain likely gun horses at a farm which was almost on the way 
to the meet. We arrived early at this farm, and there met the 
veterinary surgeon, who^ had to pass or refuse the horses picked 
out by this buyer. They were duly trotted out, examined by 
the " vet,," and then we had tio wait for the " cold show " and 
ha,ve them out again. Four out of five were duly bought and 
paid for, and then we set out to find hounds and covered 
many miles in a weary round of the local coverts, finding 
nothing but an odd lost hound and a boy on a pony, who was as 
completely lost as the hound. In the following autumn I was 
again in the North, and went to a meet of the North Durham, 
of which I had learned by card. I arrived at the village — in 
ordinary times the most popular meet in the hunt — at the 
right time, and fooind the whole place deserted, and it was 
some time before I heard that hounds had gone t>hrough a 
quarter of an hour before. Not a single horseman or woman 
was toi be seen, and I rode on to' the end of the village street, 
and there saw the hounds sheltered behind a bam. The 
kennel huntsanan and one amateur whip were with them. I 
asked the K.H. if he expected anyone, but all he knew was 
that the Master was at the recruiting office, and all the family 
were away. After waiting nearly half an hour in the hope of 
someone turning up we went to the nearest covert and found 
at once, and for fonr solemn, silent (except' for hound tongues) 
hours the three of us hunted foxes which had not been cub- 
hunted and never went more than a^ mile or so from the covert 
they lived in. It was a unique and most depressing per- 
formance, but I believe my experience was by no means 
singular, for I know that scores of times hunt servants were at 
work all day quite by themselves in various countries. 

In the following year I was in the North again for a short 
time, but found that a field of half a dozen was about the 
regular thing, except on one occasion with the Tynedale, when 


ladies made so bold a show that the absence of men was hardly 
noticeable. Of the veterans present there was no on© in 
scarlet, but it was holiday time, and this aooountied for the 
presence of most of the girls and all the boys who had turned 
out. I was at several kennels during the later war period, 
and in some instances the state of affairs was so remarkable that 
it is worth recording, if only tO' emphasise the wonderful re- 
ooveiry which enabled the hunts to get to work again after tlie 
armistice. In the Western Midlands, for example, I visited 
the kennels of two packs, where the number of hoimds had 
been, reduced by half, where nO' young hounds had beien reared 
for a. couple of seasons, and where there was only one — or pos- 
sibly two^ — old horses with which to exercise the hounds. More- 
over, there was no staff worth mentioning, and not a single 
young man about the place. Indeed, at either kennel an etx- 
hunt servant who had long retired from active work had been 
found to take sole charge, and as hei Lad to do all the work 
of the kennel his life was a busy one. One of the two packs 
was not attempting to hunt ; the other was out for a few hours 
occa,sionally, but neither was in a. position to kill foxes, and 
a majority of thei hounds at either kennel were well up in 
years. Quite lately I have seen both, these packs again, and 
the) casual observer would say that the pack was as strong and 
the whole turn out just as smart as it was in pre-war days. 
And he would be right. 

Indeed the recovery was most remarkable, though in the 
season which immediately followed the armistice there was 
great hound shortage nearly everywhere, and an unusually 
early end to the season in many countries. As for the sport, 
or rather thei hunting which took plaice during the war, there 
are few people beyond the Masters of hounds and the men 
who were employed who can say much about it. Scores of 
oflBcers on leave had odd days in every country, and on one 
occasion I reckoned that twelve of a. field, all told, of twenty 
were soldiers, but the regular hunting man's hunting was so 
irreigular that he could hardly form an opinion. One day 
during the war I met a Master of hounds of long standing, 
and a man whose opinion on everything connected with hunt- 
ing is very sound. Naturally I asked him what his pack were 
doing, and he replied that he knew very little about the matter. 


The season was nearly over, and he was so' greatly oocupied 
with, war work that he had only been out twice. In facti, all 
he was certain about was the number of foxes killed, that 
the pack had more than once got away from the handful of 
riders present, and that the greater part of the day had been 
spent in looking for the lost hounds. And, by the way, it is 
quite possible that many more foxes were killed than the 
attenuated staffs had any idea of, for a veteran, who pre- 
serves buti doeis not hunt, told me one day that in a spinney 
on his property, on a day following a visit from the local pack, 
he had found the carcases of two cubs which had been killed 
and left by hounds. 

During the la&t two or three seasons I have seen more than 
one pack for the first time, and renewed acquaintance with 
others. The first place I went to was Minehead, early in 1919, 
nearly twenty years having elapsed since my previous visit. 
The Devon and Somerset were hunting hinds, and the Mine- 
head harriers were devoting their energies entirely to foxes, 
having been given permission to hunt a small district, part of 
which belongs to the West Somerset Hunt and part to the 
Exmoor. The district in question includes the North Hill — 
from Minehead to Selworthy or thereabouts — and the Grabbist 
Hill from the neighbourhood of Dunster to somewhere about 
Wootton Courtnay. Not a big country by any means, but 
there are wooded combes all round Grabbist, and any nvimber 
of foxes. Mr Bligh was in command, as he had been twenty 
years before, but in the days of my earlier visit I had 
only seen his pack hunt hares, whereas now foxes were their 
quarry. How long they had been chev3dng the more noble 
beast I do not remember, but they had killed seven foxes 
before I saw them at. work, and I think they killed eeven more 
while I was at Minehead. I followed on foot, as did many 
others, but there was a fair field of riders as well, including 
several ladies who were very regular in their attendance. But 
for the foot followers of foxhounds I never discovered any 
place wliich is anything like so good as the Grabbist Hill. A 
fox seemed to be always present in whichever covert hounds 
drew first, and as a rule he crossed the hill soon after he was 
found, and ran through a covert or two on the slopes of the 
other side, and then recrossed the top again. Thia top is sound 


old turf, aiad so narrow that the pedestrian was seddom at a 
disadvantage, and in one hunt fox and hounds crossed th.e top 
four times before the former was put to ground. This hunt 
lasted four hours, during which time hounds were seldom out 
of sight, and never out of hearing of those who remained at 
the top of the hill, and many of the foot people remained to 
see him got out and killed. The pack were biggish harriers, 
of the old-fashioned (not the foxhound) type. Th.ey have a 
wonderful cry, and hunt well, thanks to Mr. Bligh, who has 
them in perfect subjection, an.d who is not only an enthusiast 
but an expert in hunting these hill foxes. With the other fox- 
hound packs I was unlucky; the Exmoor oould not find foxes 
when I was witli them, while the West Somerset had the knack 
of going away quickly, and leaving the pedestrian hopelessly 
in the lurch. I did, however, see them kill one fox after a 
long hunt., for they happened to come right back to where I 
was, with a beaten fox close in front, which they killed ten 
minutes later. The Exmoor had had, some little time before, 
a draft of old hounds from the Puckeiridge kennel, and these, 
Mr. Newman told me, had helped the pack in really wonderful 

During my visit to Minehead there wasi far more than the 
usual quantity of rain, and one had to be prepared for a 
ducking every time one went out, whether on horseback or on 
foot. My first visit to tlie staghoundg was a, doubtful venture, 
because they were advertised for Cloutsham at eleven o'clock, 
and rain came down in a. perfect deluge almost up to that hour. 
Then it cleared suddenly, and I had the idea that if I went to 
Homer by the Porlock motor 'bus, which was on the point of 
starting, I might possibly fall in with hounds. With me went 
an hotel acquaintance, who had never seen a hunt of any sort, 
but was terribly keen. What happened was described at some 
length in an article I wrote for Baily's Magazine early in 
1920. So I shall be brief. Leaving the 'bus at Horner foot- 
path we walked right up the wood for an hour and a half, 
seeing one solitary hound who was running a line of his own, 
and hearing nothing beyond the roar of Homer Water, which 
was coming down in flood — a. raging torrent of water. I had 
intended to walk up Eastwater — which is nearer Clontaham — 
but missed the footpath, which is perhaps not to be wondered 


at as I had only been in Tlorner Wood onoe before, and that 
many years ago. At one o'clock we arrived at Pool Farm, but 
hounds had not been there, and so we recro&sed the head of the 
oombe more with a view of walking over a, hill, the name of 
which escapes me, to Porlock aad the Minehead 'bus. I had 
a good map in my pocket and soon found the track I wanted, 
and then suddenly we came round a comer, and there in front 
of us was the whole hunt, hounds being in a young plantation 
which was in a fold of the hill, and which we on higher 
ground could ste© all round. About thirty riders were drawn 
up ; the huntsman was in the plantation on foot, and the deer 
was apparently well hidden for hounds never spoke. By this 
time I had interviewed some of the field, and discovered they 
had brought the hind they were hunting from Annicombe, that 
she had been seen to enter the young plantation, but hounds 
had not been able to fresh fijid her within. 

As we watched from the higher ground the huntsman came 
out, mounted his horse and took the pack round to the far 
side, being evidently just a little suspicious that the hind might 
have gone on before hounds came, as the ground fell away 
somewhat abruptly just beyond the covert. While he was 
casting his hounds my companion suddenly clutched my arm, 
shouting: " Look, look, there's the deer in the wood." And 
sure enough the man who had never seen a hunt of any sort 
was quite right, the deer being for a moment visible, moving 
quickly among the young trees in the thickest parti of the 
plantation. A countryman standing near us also saw, and 
hounds were quickly brought back. Once more the huntsman 
went in on foot, hounds fresli found their quarry, and hunted 
her up and down for ten minutes. Then there was a. sudden 
silence, hounds having lost touch with the hind. The covert 
appeared to be about as bad scenting ground as I ever saw, 
but of conrse iti was certain the hind was still therei, for she 
could not leave without being seen. ]\'ly friend and I were 
still standing on the higher ground well back from the covert, 
and once again it was the novice who saw the deer moving. 
Hounds were taken toi the exact spot, and this time the deer 
broke at once, and going right through the assembled field took 
hounds over the moor towards Homer. I believe she was 
taken near Lucoombe, but we on foot were too far behind to 


sieie mucli more of that hunt. I noticed, however, that scent 
in the open was as good as it had been bad in the oowert. 

Probably many who go regularly to the Devon and Somerset 
for the autumn stag hunting have little idea aa to what effect 
the winter climate has upon the sport when the hind is the 
quarry, and I may instance an experience I had a few days 
after the hunt which has just been mentioned. The meet waa 
at Hawkcombe Head and I motored with two- friends from 
Minehead. It was a beautiful morning when we started, a 
bright sun and dry roads all the way to Porlock, and the 
same statie of weather prevailed until we werei about a third. 
of the way up the new road through Porlock Banks. There 
we noticed a change from sunshine toi fog, and a.s we gi^adually 
reached the top of the long, winding hill we became more and 
niore enveloped in the mist.. At Hawkcombe Head it was 
impoQsdble toi see more than about seventy or eighty yards, but 
houndsi were there, and very quickly a field of at least forty 
gathered up. By this time we were in a fine, wetting rain, 
and the pack were taken to Birchanger Farm, while tufters 
went down to Porlock Banks. Hinds were quickly found, and 
it was not long before one was separated and driven to the 
open moor just above Birchanger. Soon three couples of tuf ters 
were in pursuit, but these were lost immediately on the moor, 
and after a longish wait other tufters werei released, and 
another hind sent away. Exactly the same thing happened,, 
it being quite impossible toi follow hounds on the high ground. 
The body of the pack were then taken toi Porlock Banks, and 
this time they hunted a hind whoi stuck to the lower ground. 
It was all covert work, however, and about threei o'clock we 
regained the car and began our homeward journey. As we 
descended the hill — by this time wei werei veiry wet. — the light 
got better every yard, and we reached Porlock toi find the same 
sunshine and dry roads we had left somei four and a half hours 

On another day I saw, practically, the whole of a good hind 
hunt from a car. The me©t was at. Wheddon Cross, the hind 
which hounds followed was found at Oakrow, came up to Cut- 
oombe, and then sinking the hill ran by the lower slopes of 
Dunken-y to the lower end of Homer Wood, and on over the 
hill to Porlock, where she was taken in a cottage garden. By 


oar we came down to Timberscombe, and found a lane parallel 
with, the line which hounds had taken, and we were often so 
near them tJiat I could count the hounds as they ran " in 
long-drawn file " close into Luckham. They went ahove the 
village, and we only lost them for a. time when they rose the 
hill to the we&t of Horner Green. Curioiusly enough on this 
occasion a. second hind had come on from somewhere near 
Cutcombe to Horner, and this hind hounds found on their 
return from Porlook, and hunted it to the neighbo^urhood oi 
Timberscombe!, where it was taken. On this particular day 
the visibility — to use a new-fangled word which I do not like, 
but whose utility is obvious — was magnificent, a, perfect pano- 
rama, of the Devon and So'mersiet country being in evidence all 
day long. 

From Minehead I went tO' Bath, where the season was draw- 
ing to a close, and saw the Duke of Beaufort's and the Avon 
Vale at work. At that particular time there were t.empora.ry 
restrictions in the Duke's country, and I saw ho'unds stopped 
twice in an hour when hunting from a Biddeston meet, when 
foxes were particularly numerous. I think two or three were 
killed thati day, but there was a fine hunt in the early af tier- 
noon, and in point of facti the pack were having the good sports 
which seems to be their regular fare. The fields, even in their 
best country, were not sO' large as I had expected, and I found 
it difficult tOi count a. hundred horses, all told. No doubt in the 
spring of 1920 there were nothing like so' many people following 
hounds regularly as there had been in pro-war days, for 
oonntry people were feeling the results of high taxation and 
the very high co'st, of living. I noticed this wherever I went, 
both in 1920, and in the following year, and though there has 
been perhaps some improvement in this respect since that time, 
I imagine it will be long enough before we ever see the very big 
fields which were tO' be found in many meets during the first 
decade of thei present century. 

With regard to' fields 1 may state that, for many years I 
have been in the hahit of counting roughly thei number of 
people out. I got this trick of counting owing toi an argument 
as to the number out on a certiain day, after a day's hunting, 
and I have continued the practice almost mechanically, just as 
I count hounds whenever I have a chance in the course of a 


hunt. And I may mention some of these counts, which are 
to some extenti proof that fields have fallen off. The first 
refers toi the Puckeridge, about, which I find that, I counted 
sixty ladies following hounds one day in 1898. The next is 
three years later, and is to the eSect that when. Lord Zetlands 
(as they were then) were drawing a covert on Sir W. Wilson 
Todd's estiate at Halnaby there were seventy-one scarlet coats 
visiblei, these including the hunt staff. Another count, — which 
was by noi means oompletei — was taken with the Cheshire on the 
Saturday alter the Grand National, when, hounds were hunt- 
ing in the Forest and when one would have thought that 
the attraotion of the last day of the Liverpool Spring Meeting 
would have caused the field toi be small. Nevertheless, I 
counted 214 horses as hounds moved off from the meet, and I 
know I did not get. them all. With the Tynedale in the f-pring 
of the present year (1921) I counted over 190 horses at a Whit- 
tington meet, but there had been a ball overnight and no' doubt 
this increased the field. On that particular day no fewer than 
seven Mastiers ol hounds were present.. The biggest, field I 
ever siaiW wa.s with the Percy sometime in the 'seventies. But 
the then Prince of Wales wag staying at Alnwick Castlei, and 
hunting people had swarmed to the place, literally in thou- 
sands. Indeed, the local newspapers put the number of 
riders at 3,000, and -though I think this was a very liberal 
estimate, I quite think that half that number was present. 
The biggest ordinary field I ever siaw was with the Quorn 
during Lord Lonsdale's mastership. I do not remember wher© 
the meet wa.s, but it wag in their best oonnt.ry, and I have a 
recollection of a crowded lane of horses, kept there while 
hounds drew a, little spinney a field away. After a suffocating 
ten minutes a whistle was blown, and then everyone tried to' 
geti out of the lane. There was practically no room to jump, 
but when I got a chancei my horsei pushed through the fence, 
and a moment later I could see galloping horses everywhere, 
several rather small fields being covered with horses, and not a 
hound visible. Indeed I followed on blindly for quite ten 
minutes, and then caught sight, of the pack on rising ground 
nearly half a mile ahead. Later on that same day, about 
three o'clock, a field of several hundred had been reduced to 
something like seventy, and I saw a beautiful hunt. 


But I have been running wide — skirting, in fact — and to go 
back to' my original fo^x, I saw soime nice sport with the 
Avon Vale, when hunting on foot. I was rather lucky perhaps,, 
for on three days out of eight or nine I was able to see nearly 
all that, hounds did, while on the other days they went away 
v/ith a fox and I saw little more of them. The best hunt 
I saw was after a meet at Chippenham. Hounds found cloise 
to the town, and for two hours the fox zigzagged, crossing 
and recro&sing the main road leading to Devizes. I viewed 
him at the start and then again when I had to wait until 
hounds came over the road, and after an hour and a half they 
reached the neighbourhood of the George Inn, Sandy Lane (a 
frequent meet when the Duke of Beauforti was hunting the 
whole co'iintry). There the fox got intoi a spinney in Spye 
Park, and the field were drawn up, so that he had plenty of 
room. But he would not break for long enough, and after 
half an hour, during which hounds had to work amidsti a dense 
cover of blackberry bushes, he was so beaten that he was 
caught before he had gone 200 yards. I have a. pad of that 
fox, because having viewed him twice and seen him killed I 
felti that I had a vest.ed interest in him. 

On another day when hounds met at the Rocks I had several 
ladies from the hotiel in Bath with me. We went by tram 
to Batheaston, walked up toi the Kockg and saw about a couple 
of hours of pretty hunting in the combes of that, neighbour- 
hood. There were several foxes running about, and towards 
twoi o'clock one left the district with the greater part of the 
pack in pursuit. But some four couples' were left, hunting 
another fox, and with these hounds we had a great time. 
They could not travel at any pace, but kept hunting steadily, 
and were often close to their fox. Indeed we viewed him 
more than once, not far in front, and were anticipating a kill, 
when he slipped into a rabbit hole and our sport was over. 
The Duke's, as everyone knows, are a very grand pack of big 
hounds, who combine quality with massive substance and im- 
mense bone, and if the Avon Vale are not quite so big they 
are alsio^ a fine pack, and have some beautiful bitches. Some 
of these were sent tO' Peterborough that year, but they were 
far too fat, so fat indeed that they excited ridicule rather 
than admiration, for their good points were entirely hidden by fat. 


Some time during March of that year (1920) I went to judge 
at the puppy show of Major David Daviea' hounds at Llan- 
dinam, in Montgomeryshire, and for the first time saw a pack, 
about three parts Welsh in blood, in the field. I had seen 
these hounds in kennel on a previous visit, and had seen the 
veterans of the pack hunting otters, but this was my first 
chanoe of seeing the foxhound pack. The day after I arrived 
the meet was at Welshpool, some twenty miles from the kennel. 
Hounds were sent on by motor-van, horses by the Caanbrian 
Railway, and we motored to the meet. Some thirty riders 
formed the field, and hounds were taken to a hanging wood 
some two miles from the town. They quickly found a fox, 
and after some ringing work went away, the line for two or 
three miles being parallel with a branch of the Shropshire 
Union Canal . I had a first-rate opportunity of seeing the pack 
at work, because, for a time, they came to my side of a stream, 
Major Davies and the field being held up by the stream — which 
was at the bottom of a thick dingle — and, I think, by wire. 
I was much impressed by the manner in which hounds cast 
themselves, and worked for the line on a very moderate scent, 
buti after about ten minutes hounds reorossed the dingle and I 
wag thrown out. 

I shall have more to say about the working abilities of 
Major Davies' hounds later on, but here I may mention that 
Llandinam is a veritable home of sport, and that hunting holds 
the first plaioe in its Master's aflfeotions. Major Davies is, in 
fact, as great an enthusiast as I ever met, and at the moment 
he is not only hunting his own large country, but is joint 
Master with Mr. Roger Plowden of the United, Master of the 
Hawkstone Otter Hounds, and the owner of the Montgomery- 
shire Beagles, which axe managed by a, committee of the Mont- 
gomeryshire Recreation Society, but are kennelled at Plasi 
Dinam, where also are the kennels of the foxhound pack and 
the otter hounds. As many of my readers are aware. Major 
Davies is also a member of Parliament, and this means tliat 
when the House is sitting his sport is much curtailed. He 
leaves town, as a rule, late on Friday evening, and travels by 
a fast train to Shrewsbury, whence he motors the forty odd 
miles to his home. On Saturdays he carries the horn, both 
with foxhounds in winter and otter hounds in summer, 


and he takes high rank among amateur huntsmen of the 
present day, for he has very great knowledge of the sport, 
and knpws all that it is possible to know ahout every hound 
in his pack. He has, too, a fine eye for country, and for 
viewing a fox, and he is quick to maike up hisi mind; indeed, 
he invariably shows sport when he is hunting hounds, and he 
is always with th.em. In covert — and some of his coverts are 
the thickest I ever saw — he is a wonderfiil worker, never hesi- 
tating to go in on foot when it is too thick — sometimes it is 
impossible — to go in on horseback, and having a really mar- 
vellovis knack of sending his horse to meet him at the right 

The country is a huge one in area,, and if one adds the United 
country to his own domain it means that Major Davies is 
attending to a distcrict which extends from Craven Arms in 
Shropshire to the eastern slopes of Plynlimmon, some sixty 
miles at least. In such a large district, as will be readily 
understood, there is every sort of co'untry which is in any 
degree possible for foxhunting, and it is a frequent occurrence 
for Major Daviesi' own pack to meet at Old Hall on a Monday 
and in the Weilshpool district on a Wednesday, the countries 
which hounds go into from either meet being not far short of 
forty miles' apart. Perhaps from a riding point of view the 
country in the Severn Valley between Newtown and Welsh- 
pool is the best. There is a good deal of wire, but otherwise 
this district is a highly cultivated vale with many undulations, 
but hounds frequently hunt all day long without reaching the 
mountains. Higher up the valley, west of Llandinam, the vale 
land is narrow and the mountains close at hand, and west of 
the old borough of Llanidloes there are good coverts on the 
hill sides, but nearly all the hunting takes place among the 
mountains, and it is really wonderful how the field, which 
hereabouts oonaista chiefly of hill farmers, keep in oonatant 
touch with hounds. As for Major Davies,* and his 
wonderful kennel huntsman, Jack Davies, they know 
ever}' inch of the ground and ride horses which are 

* Since this was written Major (now Colonel) Davies has given up 
his Mastership of the United pack, leaving Mr. Roger Plowden to 
carry on the hunt single-handed. 


almost thoroughbred. They never seem to lose hounds 
for a moment, and I take it they carry a plan in their 
heads of all the bogs and the exact placings of the gates 
in, the wire fences, for were it otherwise they could not keep in 
touch as they do, and be able to tell one afterwards wkLah 
hounds were leading at any particular point, which hit the line 
off at a. check, and which actually caught, the fox. The 
stranger going among the mountains must follow the Master, 
the kennel huntsman, or a farmer who is taking a line of kb) 
own, but he must never lose touch with his pilot, or he may 
find himself in difficulties. If, however, he sticks to someone 
who reially knows he will find that most, of his galloping is ovea- 
fine old turf, and very seldom on He will have steep 
ascents and descents, but all are practicable, for the paths 
wind up and down the sides of the hills, and are used all day 
and every day by the farmers looking after their sheep. 

And here I must interpose two refleotionsi which this moim- 
tain hunting suggests. The first is that for the hills no horsie 
is £o good as a thoroughbred, and the second is that Major 
Davies' cross-bred Welsh and English hounds can hunt a fox 
over sheep foiled ground in a manner tliat I never saw achieved 
by any pack of English hounds. As regards the th.oroughbred 
I do not mean a racehorse, nor a vecry young horse, but the 
stamp which, no matter how his early life may have been spent, 
has, in the ocurse of time, become a steady hunter. Such 
horses have more endurance than commoner-bred animals, and 
are extremely surefooted. They do not as a rule get nervous 
when a storm comes on, and their smooth, easy action is an 
enormous asset to the rider. If an actual stud-book horse 
is not available, one with a great deal of breeding and many 
of the qualities of a thoroughbred is to be preferred, and about 
the best, and surest footed I ever rode in the mountain coixatry 
was a shapely fifteen-three horse by a thoroughbred out of a 
Dartmoor pony. The cobs and po.nie® which the farmers ride 
do wonderfully well in tlie high country, and as long as hounds 
do not really race they can carry their riders well up with the 
pack. These little horses have for the most part been bred 
on the hills, and have been ridden all over them ever since 
they were first saddled. They are therefore not only active 
but ecxceedingly trustworthy, and it is said that they have 


intuitive knowledge of a bog, and will never go near one. But 
they have not sfufficdent paoe if hounds really run fasft, and 
this sometimes happens on the mountains, for the turf is good 
soenting ground, and foxes seem to prefer to run where they 
are not impeded. They often lie in the heather patches, 
but they seem to avoid this same heather when running 
before hounds. As for the sheep, they are everywhere in the 
mountain country, and great flocks of them will charge right 
over the fox's line when hounds are running, stand for a 
moment, and charge back again to the ground they came from. 
Yet hounds will run on over the foiled ground, Jilmoat as if 
no sheep had been there, and on a day of really good scent I 
saw the pack go right through a flock of moving sheep without 
faltering or decreaaing their paoe. The fact is that this particu- 
lar pack of hounds are constantly among sheep. They are 
exercised among them in the summer, and they can hardly go 
hunting even on the lower ground of the Vale without meeting 
them in every third or fourth field. " From what I can see of 
the country," said the London chauffeur who presides over the 
Broneirion cars, " the chief products of Wales are chapels, 
public- houses, and sheep, ' ' and though ' ' you might not think 
it there are actually more sheep than pubs." 

As for sport with Major Davies' hounds, I have seen some 
excellent hunts in various parts of the country. The first 
good run was in the Welshpool district, and hounds ran for 
nearly three hours, covering a Tiuge extent of country 
before their fox got to ground. In this hunt two 
points of five miles apiece were made, and the country 
was all ordinary agricultural land, with any number of 
fences to be jumped. The next really good hunt I saw 
lasted even longer, hounds being hard at it for four hours and 
twenty minutes. Their fox was found close to kennels, 
and hounds travelled along the base of a steep hill 
for several miles, swung round and came back on a lower 
parallel line. They then went down to the Severn Valley, 
but after a time turned back to the hills and repeated their 
earlier performance. And all this time they were travelling on 
at a steady, holding pace, with hardly a check of any moment. 
They had been running for three hours when they left the hills 
for thtf last time, but the best part of the hunt waa to follow, 


for after going down tlie valley for a quarter of an hour they 
turned up again, and following the banks of the river Severn 
■they hunted on steadily for another hour, finally killing their 
fox in the open close to Dolwen Station, on the Cambrian 
Railway. The latter part of the hunt was most exciting, for 
the fox was const-antly viewed close in front, but hounds 
were going down wind, and probably the sinking fox had 
a failing scent. This was a great fox and a great hunt, and 
in the last hour a five-mile point was made. Many of 
Major Davies' pack are very light-coloured hounds and the 
value of this colour on the sides of the hills is most pro- 
nounced, while the dark hounds are not only difiicult to see, 
but when some distance away almost impossible to distinguish 
by sight. And in this hunt the pack were hardly lost sight 
of for a moment, for they only ran through one or 
two little spinnies, and while they were on the sides of the 
Moliart hills the field were able to keep close with them — 
a couple of hundred feet or £0 below — on a good bridle path. 

Two other great hunts I was lucky enough to see something 
of with these hounds in November of 1921. The first was 
a, moorland hunt from the hanging covert at Old Hall, and 
hounds made a nine-mile point and killed their fox in the open 
near the pass on the road which leads from Shrewsbury to 
Aberystwyth at the end of three hours. This run was referred! 
toi in the Field shortly after it took place, and so was the great 
hunt which took place ten days later. The hunt last mentioned 
was, T think, the longest I ever took part in, for it began 
at half-past ten, and did not finish until hounds were stopped 
in almost black darkness some time between half-past five and 
six. The fox was found, lying out on Tan-y-Raalt Hill, but 
practically all the hunting was in the lower country, and quite 
the beat part of it was over a fine riding line of pasture 
land in the Trannon Valley. In the early part of the day two 
points of four and one of five miles were made, and hounds 
went so fast at first that they got well in front. They came 
back to the Tan-y-Rallt Hill, hov/ever, after having been four 
miles away from it, and then making a further five mile point 
put their fox to ground on Dolgwineth Farm, about half-past 
two, this being perhaps the best part of the hunt, aa hounds 
though never faltering were not going quite so fast, and the 


country was the beist of the day. There was a delay of some- 
thing like half an hour before the fox was bolted, and this 
was really the only respite from hard going between half -past 
ten and half-past five, and though this latter part of the hunt 
was slower than the early part hounds were always driving 
on, and when stopped they were many miles from where 
the fox had bolted, the fox having worked right back to the 
Severn Valley, some three to four miles west of the kennels, 
whereas the hunt had begun some five or six miles north of the 
kennels on the Machynlleth road. The wheel on the ordnanc© 
map made out a. hunt of 28 miles, but, as I need hardly 
write, thei wheel allows nothing for twisits and turns, nor for 
contours, and I know that I am well within the mark when I 
write that hounds covered five^and-thirty miles in the course of 
the hvmt. Moreover, the fox eschewed the hills, which were 
never far off, and kept in the lower ground all day, going round 
or half round the base of several steep places without attempt- 
ing to go up. During this long hunt Major Davies and ' ' Jack " 
were always with hounds, and David Turner, first whipper-in, 
stuck to it right to the end. Of ooursei second horses were used, 
but every nag was done tO' a turn, and they would hardly ha,ve 
lasted as they did had not the going been in perfect order, 
neither hard nor deep, but with just the right amount of 
spring in it. 

Since an account of the hunt appeared, in the Field 
on Dec. 17, 1921, I have been several times asked 
if 1 think Welsh hounds are better than English 
hounds, and so I may state that I am strongly of 
opinion that for all the ordinary English hunting countries 
little or no fault can be found with the orthodox English sort, 
but that Welsh — or cross-bred Welsh and English — are much 
betiter in the hill countries, and I prefer the oioss-bred to the 
pure Welsh, though on this particular point my opinion is not 
worth much, for I have never seen a pack of purely Welsh 
hounds in the field, and, as a matter of fact, I do not think 
there are any packs of purely Welsh blood in existence. There 
may bo one or two, but it is a general opinion — so far as I can 
judge — throughout Wales that when Dr. David gave up the 
Glog hounds the last really Welsh pack was disbanded. Much 
of Dr. David's blood is at present in the kennel of Mr. Rees, 


who lives near Senny Bridge, in the Usk Valley, some ten to 
twelve miles west of Brecon, just ofif the main, road from Brecon 
to the Swansea district. I have seen Mr Reea' hounds in 
kennel, and his best, which have a strong family likeness, are 
hare-pied in colour, very rough, and not more than twenty- 
two inches. Their feet are spread, but they have plenty of 
boue, and many of them are straight. Indeed, they are most 
business-like to look at. They had run a fox to death 
in half an hour without a check the day before I saw them, 
and I have heaid great accounts of thedr working abilities. 

Concerning Welsh and English hounds and their chief 
charactieri sties, not as regards formation, but from a. hunting 
point of view, it may briefly be said thati as a broad rule 
English hounds have more drive than Welsh, and are less 
inclined to linger on a scent. Welsh hounds, on the other 
hand, have more cry, a much deeper not©, and I am inclined 
to think, more nose on a cold scent. That is as far as I can 
go, and we must not forget that in a variety of English ooun- 
triesi the modern foxhound is greatly handicapped by artificial 
manures, by closely shorn stubbles, and most of all by over- 
riding and the pushing of many somewhat, undisciplined fields. 
This results in hounds being lifted and casti forward so often as 
to make them appear lacking in nose, but my experience is 
that if English hounds are left alone and allowed sufficient time 
they will generally find the line of their fox. Unfortunately, 
it is a far too frequent habit in many countries to give up a 
hunted fox after a oast or two has failed, and go and look for 
another, and this is in a great measure due to the fact that the 
average English country is at the present, moment remarkably 
well stocked with foxeis. Harriers and beagles have as good as they had when I was a boy, but foxhounds often have 
to hunt in somewhat unnatural fashion, being snatched up when 
working for the line, and too frequently stopped when running 
because certain coverts must not be disturbed and bo forth. 

Major Davies has introduced a good deal of " Fell " blood 
from Cumberland and Westmorland into his pack, chiefly with 
a view to obtainng the white or almost whit© which is so good 
to see on the mountains, but he has many cross-bred Welsh 
and English hounds, and two three-season brothers, Rouser 
and Rattler, by the Glog Driller, have the deepest foxhound 


note I ever heiard. He has, too, a wonderful almost white 
second -sieaaon hound named Boaster, who is by Colonel Curre'e 
Bloater from Frantic, by the Tivyside Finder. This Boaster 
was first prize dog hound in his year, and has been in the 
prize list at the Knighton show, but his feet do not please 
all judges, and he waa last year a trifle wide at hia elbows. 
Otherwise he is a big- boned, upstanding almost white hound, 
and a perfect glutton for work. In December, 1920, when 
he had just been entered, I saw him draw out fifty yards 
ahead on tbe line of a fox, and Major Davies wrote me a 
few weeks ago as follows: " Boaster is a marvel. I think he 
is the best working dog hound I have ever bred. He drives 
along like a lion, and has the best note, marks and bays at an 
earth, is never idle, and has a wonderful nose. Plenty of 
substance and good constitution. What more do you v-ant? 
Hang the feet and elbows, he can shove along." 

That is a pretty good certificate of merit from a Master 
huntsman who knows exactly what every hound in his pack 
is doing, and who can value their work to a fraction. I may 
add that Boaster was used early in life at the home kennel, 
and that there are already promising litters by him at the 

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Webster Family Library of Veterinary Medicine 

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