Besides The Lost Foxes of Lakeland, there are many “lost” packs. Below is a brief history of the Oxenholme Staghounds and mention of three more packs long since defunct; finally a tantalising newspaper snippet taken from the Westmorland Gazette of 1844 concerning Kendal Union Harriers of which nothing more is known.
There appears to have been quite a few other packs operating in Lakeland, and this posting will be added to at a future date.
I was reading through a Richard Clapham book when I came across a picture of a follower of the Oxenholme Staghounds sitting on his horse. After some thought I remembered that as a child I had heard the Oxenholme Staghounds mentioned in conversation but l could not recall the context. This prompted the start of a search to uncover some information on this long defunct South Lakeland pack.
I am lucky enough to have had help in compiling the following information and my thanks go to the people who have put themselves out to achieve this, especially Tim Bonner who has allowed me to use material from his Great Aunt’s hunting diaries, which are unpublished.
Currently, little is known of the early years of the Oxenholme Staghounds, they appear to have been formed around 1870 by MrCH Wilson who continued for forty years hunting carted red deer, apparently kept at Oxenholme House, home of the Temple Family.
By 1936 the Oxenholme Staghounds had disbanded and after a meeting in their old stables (then currently used as a riding school by a Mr J Rutter) the Lunesdale and Oxenholme Staghounds were formed.
The use of carted deer had stopped owing to the fact that the local population of deer had increased over the years. The wild hinds had mated with red deer stags from the Martindale Deer forest where the Halsall family of Dalmane had hunted deer from time immemorial (Baileys hunting Directory 1933), to the east of Ullswater Lake, some twenty miles away from the kennels of the “new” hunt. The hounds seemed to have been owned by a Mr. Heaton who was Master from 1919 to 1930 when he gave them to the Hunt Committee.
The country hunted measured approximately 50 miles long by 30 miles wide comprised of parts of Westmorland, the West Riding of Yorkshire and the Furness district of Lancashire.
The Vale of Lune Harriers hunted over the southern part of the Staghound country.
In 1919 the Holmfirth Honley and Meltham hunt purchased seven couple of hounds from the Oxenholme Staghounds, due to the decline of the old “Southern Harrier Blood”. Sadly it did not allow them to continue for much longer as in 1928 they were replaced by Beagles and the Holme Valley were formed, and continue to this day. Apparently Mr Wilson was an “enthusiast of the Old English breed” and had used the Pennistone sires with his pack in the 1890s.
The subscription for the “new” staghound pack was £20 but other subscriptions were accepted. In those days £20 was quite a considerable sum of money, when a man could work for a week to purchase a new pair of nailed fell boots, costing only a few pounds.
In 1933 the Huntsman was Albert Simms and first Whip H Jones. The Hunt sported a blue collar; there were 18 couple of hounds kennelled at Endmoor Nr Kendal. Meets were Mondays and Thursdays.
The 1937/38 season had a Miss F Weston (apparently Master from 1930), Huntsman Nicholls and Whip Parr (new this season).
In the 1938/39 season the hunt ended, the last meet being at Slack Head Beatham on 4th March 1939
The Hunting diary of Nancy Metcalf–Dixon records:
And that appears to have been the end of the Staghounds - the approaching war would have put paid to them, with conscription of hunt servants and fuel rationing. I’m sure there is more information available such as newspaper reports of the time, another search to be added to the list. I’m equally certain there will be more on the Lunesdale and Oxenholme staghounds.
Some other packs hunting Lakeland in 1902, now long gone, were:
The pack was founded in 1870 as the Abbey Holme and District Harriers; in 1884 it was changed to the Aspatria and District Harriers, and hunted the Binsey country by permission of the Cumberland Foxhounds. They hunt both fox and hares, foxes mostly. Their fell country is on Binsey (1400 feet) and round Lake Overwater. “Binsey has a gentle slope covered with heather and is rideable all over; unfortunately the foxes nearly always cross the valley and go up the higher fells, where riders are unable to follow.”
The huntsman is on foot, so when they get away with the fox, the Master takes charge.
Miss Parkin was courteous enough to add to the above information an account of a fell run with her hounds.
The part of Saddleback on which the latter part of this run took place can be well seen from the railway between Threlkeld and Troutbeck Stations.
The Windermere Harriers operated until mid-way through my childhood, and were kennelled at the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel Great Langdale; I have memories of hunting with them.
Established 1857. Old hounds kept in kennels and puppies sent out to walk during the summer. They hunt the rough mountainous country round Cockermouth.
Finally I came across this snippet in an old copy of the Westmorland Gazette dated 09 November 1844.