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Published by Amberley Publishing 2009
Reviewed by Ron Black
[The comments expressed below are mine and mine alone.
The Oxenholme Staghounds, hunted deer from 1894 until 1939, before that hare and deer on alternate days. This book is a reprint of the diary of one of the followers for the 1934/35 season, being a combination of handwritten text and superb water coloured pictures which reproduce extremely well.
The book begins with an explanation of deer hunting in Great Britain referenced with a map of the area hunted which could have been better, the book moves on to lay down a brief history of the hunt using difficult to obtain sources of 1902 and 1923 respectively. Moving on several reports of hunts are quoted from the local newspapers, but only one of the hunts covered by the diary. Finally there are several pages of superb photographs of the field from the 1930s.
The diaries themselves usually begin with who was out and riding what horse, the hunt catered for the well-to-do families of the area or “the quality” as my late Great Uncle Brait called them. The subscription around this time was £20 per season quite a considerable sum for the area, although there were good turnouts of foot followers as well with an occasional motorcar follower to boot. The pleasure of riding over country in pursuit far outweighed any intention of actually killing the “quarry” which for a time was either re-caught and conveyed home in a cart at the end of the run (in the early days of the hunt) or later on, simply allowed to escape.
In the early days of the pack, they followed harriers but these proved to be too fast for the horses and were replaced by a harrier/Welsh foxhound/bloodhound cross which allowed the riders to keep up with hounds (The Lunesdale and Oxenholme Staghounds by William-Scarth Dixon, 1923).
One of the constituent parts to a day's hunting is the small events that happen to followers, and Miss Drew had a good eye for detail and no small measure of humour.
The artwork is well worth the purchase price alone and the book is highly recommended with all profit going to a charity for the deaf.
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