Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Meynellian Science

 

meynell.loraine smithHugo Meynell (seated), in his later years, with his huntsman Jack Raven and a favorite hound Glider. / Engraving after a 1794 painting by Charles Loraine Smith

The father of English foxhunting was Hugo Meynell, founder of the Quorn, who began hunting hounds from his Leicestershire seat Quorn Hall in 1753. He developed the science of hunting the fox at speed in the open, made possible by the clearing of forests and the enclosure of land.

Stirrups and Stays: Riding Habits in the 18th Century

barnes1James Seymour (British, 1702 - 1752), A Lady and a Gentleman Riding Out, c. 1740, gouache on paper, 5 5/8 x 7 1/8 inches, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the men of England were assaulted by a new and uncomfortable sight: women in masculine clothing! Even worse, these were upper class ladies, and they had donned cavalry-inspired costume to invade the male-dominated pastimes of riding and foxhunting. These daring women were often called ‘Amazons’ and were sometimes ridiculed for their riding habits. In 1666 Samuel Pepys lamented that, if not for their long skirts, these ladies wouldn’t be recognized as women at all! About fifty years later, Richard Steele satirically suggested that Amazons should “complete their triumph over us, by wearing breeches.”

Henry Goodwin Vaughan, A Founding Father

henry vaughan.furrier
Henry Vaughan riding Norfolk, with the champion Welsh foxhound, Furrier. A gift from Wales, Furrier was bought at auction by Masters of other hunts to fund the new Hunt Servants Benefit Foundation (since renamed the Hunt Staff Benefit Foundation). Furrier was presented by the Masters to Henry Vaughan in appreciation of his long service to the hunts of America and as a co-founder and secretary of the MFHA. The painting is in the possession of the MFHA.

The Norfolk Hunt (MA) can boast of well-known men of American history throughout its earliest rosters—Louis Brandeis, Justice of the U.S, Supreme Court and Leverett Saltonstall, a three-term Governor of Massachusetts and three-term U.S. Senator—but none of its members so dominated the reputation and future of the hunt as did Henry G. Vaughan. He appeared as a member’s guest in 1900 and three years later was elected MFH, a position he held to acclaim for the next thirty years. He was a complete New England gentleman and one of the founding fathers of organized mounted foxhunting in America.

His was hardly the case of a man arriving at a backwater village and uplifting the native savages. Vaughan arrived in Boston from a small town in Maine by way of Harvard University into the midst of the Boston Ames, Cabots, Forbes, Peabodys, Perkinses, and Saltonstalls to be not only embraced, but feted, revered, and almost deified.

Bowerman the Hunter: A Story for Halloween

bowermans noseBowermans Nose, Dartmoor, UK

On Dartmoor, in days of yore—even before Sherlock Holmes’s Hounds of the Baskervilles roamed that fog-swept moor terrifying young readers—a tall, strong man with a sunny disposition lived and hunted his hounds. Kindly and personable, Bowerman the Hunter, was a popular man on the moors, according to legend. He was often seen drawing across Dartmoor with his pack of hounds, reputed for relentless pursuit of their quarry.

His day was a time of witchcraft, and Bowerman’s neighbors on Dartmoor believed that witches congregated in secluded, remote areas of the moors to perform their spells. The villagers shunned such places, but the affable Bowerman laughed off all talk of such superstition and hunted the country wherever he liked.