Here are a few selections from the 30-article ‘Hunting in Berkshire’ series by
J. Hautenville Cope, published in the
‘Reading Mercury’ from February to December 1921, plus a couple of items showing
how hunting was covered during 1921.
Extract from Article 3, published March 5th:
[…] At first, during the lifetime of his father, Mr. Chute had a pack of harriers, though according to old accounts he was not above hunting a fox with his hare hounds. After succeeding to the estate in 1791 he changed to foxhounds, and remained in office until his death in 1824. Mr. Austin-Lee in that most interesting, but very scarce, book, "The Vine Hunt", for it was printed for private circulation, remarks that Mr. Chute "for a few seasons did occupy a country eastward of the Loddon towards Hartley Row. I do not know how far he went in that direction."
From the papers referred to in the previous article I am enabled to supplement the information given by the author of "The Vine Hunt". I find that Mr. Chute hunted the country north of the river Blackwater and south of Wokingham, for on the 9th January, 1792, that is his first season, he "found in Loddon Bridge covert and went away instantly in good style through Sinsom [Sindlesham], Newland, Arborfield, Moor Copse, Swallowfield Park over Farley Hill, to Four Hurdles, where, heading, he returned through the chain of coverts to Swallowfield Park, and stood indebted for his escape to the great number of hares which were constantly in view.
A brace of foxes were soon unkennelled in Wyfields, but the hounds dividing, a want of combined force became too perceptible to render killing a matter of ease at the very late hour of the day". West of the Loddon he hunted Pinge Wood, Sulhamstead, where he had a strong supporter in Mr. William Thoyts. From the time he started the Vine Hounds, and for some seasons afterwards, Mr. Chute was frequently in the northern part of the country.
Article 6, from March 26th, mentioned Sir John Cope and the Bramshill Hunt.
Article 9 gave a useful summary of the story so far:
It may be that some of my readers have missed a few of the previous articles. For their benefit I will here briefly repeat events and dates. Sir John Cope took the hounds 1817; in 1843 the country was divided and the South Berks Hunt organised, with Mortimer George Thoyts as Master. He resigned in 1847, when G. H. Montagu, of Caversham Hill, became Master.
Sir John Cope gave up his hounds in 1850; at the same time Mr. Montagu retired from the mastership of the South Berks, and both countries were united under Mr. J. J. Wheble.
In 1852 the united country once more was divided, Mr. Garth taking the east side of the River Loddon, the South Berks the other or west side, with Mr. Wheble as Master.’ Full details of Article 9, published on April 23rd, can be seen here.
Article 30, the last in the ‘Hunting in Berkshire’ series, was published on Christmas Eve, in good time for the traditional Boxing Day hunt.
On October 29th 1921, a correspondent named ‘Wryneck’ started contributing ‘Hunting Notes’ on the week’s hunt meetings. The armchair hunt follower could trace the progress of each hunt with the aid of a map; a typical example was published on November 26th 1921:
Garth Hunt at Newlands.
"On Saturday the meet was at Newlands. Going into Barkham Coombs hounds found their first fox after 10 minutes’ drawing. There was such a cry, and they sent through cover at such a pace that there seemed every hope for a good scenting day. But it was not to be. The fox must have been lying close and only moved when hounds came up to him, for very soon scent began to fail, and it turned out about the worst scenting day for many a week.
"The morning’s work in the Coombs is hard to describe. There were several foxes afoot and a large following of foot people to view them, with the consequence that view holloas sounded by the dozen from every part of the Coombs. Foxes could not get away, and hounds with no good line to hold them were confused by the shouting and inclined to get their heads up. After doing everything possible, the Master, hunting a cold line, went across into Bear Wood. Here, too, there were several foxes, but not an atom of scent. Eventually a fox went away as though for the Holt, but turning short back into covert, hounds overran him. Presently, being viewed again, hounds went to the holloa and again overran him in the direction of Bottle Copse. Being so close to this covert, they were thrown in and another fox went away, pointing for East Heath. Running parallel with Evendon’s Lane, they just managed to hunt the line for a short mile and then lost him. Hunting without scent being an impossibility, they went home at 2:45 p.m."
On December 31st, ‘Wryneck’ gave the following advice to those following the hunt on foot rather than from their armchairs:
"To Motorists – Although you may be the largest subscribers to the hunt (or perhaps subscribe not at all), curb your fiery steeds when hounds are drawing, and let not your engines run alongside covert. Foxes probably object strongly to a noisy engine, and are unlikely to break in face of a raging petrol fiend.
"To Push-bike and Foot Followers – Remember that (with few exceptions) you don’t pay one cent for your sport. You are getting a lot of fun at other people’s expense. Try therefore to repay the obligation by helping as much as you can; do not get round covert and holloa in the face of a breaking fox; do not get in the way of the hounds and hunt servants or mounted field; and, when you have seen no fox or when hounds are running well, do not mislead the huntsman by view holloas, however tuneful, merely to show you can do it better than the other chap.
"Never holloa unless you see a fox yourself. Take nobody else’s word for it. If you do, you may find yourself holloaing a hare and get the blame; and serve you ---- well right."
With acknowledgements to Berkshire Newspapers
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