The Lunesdale & Oxenholme Staghounds
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Today, the Lunesdale and Oxenholme Staghounds are consigned to history and for the most part forgotten. The deer they chased, including Lion and Mabel, have gone to that great rutting ground in the sky. The horses, among them White Wine and Lionel, push up the grass instead of grazing it, and the sound of the horn and halloa has been replaced by the rumble of traffic and the high-speed train. Using material written at the time, this book tells the story of the Lunesdale and Oxenholme Staghounds.
Reviewed by Dr H Brooks, Baily's Hunting Directory
"In his recently self-published book, A History of the Lunesdale & Oxenholme Staghounds, Ron Black has chosen to focus his attention on a rather unique pack in the Lake District and hence provide the reader with a new insight into the wider history of hunting and its place within the social history of a unique geographic area.
"One of the challenges of a book of this sort is that it could just appeal to those who know the area or those characters to whom we are introduced during the narrative. However the author avoids this trap by his use of frequent published reports taken from newspaper reports starting in the 1880’s and by so doing provides the reader with a glimpse of late Victorian and Edwardian social history and how the hunt and the local community dealt with that period of dramatic change.
"At only 58 pages, this is a short book, but the author’s extensive research has meant that the pages are packed with:- contemporary newspaper event reports, hunt reports, letters, diaries, obituaries and other information (including of course extracts from relevant Baily’s) concerning not just the hunt but the people that followed and supported the hunt. This material provides both a snapshot of the hunt from the perspective of those who were there at the time but also provides a chronology of the hunt itself. In addition the use of privately held images gives the reader a valuable and privileged insight in to those mentioned in the biography section. From a purely factual standpoint, this work will be invaluable to the scholar with an interest in the place that a hunt and hunting provides for those who live and work in this unique landscape and the positive impact that hunting has on the social history of an area.
"From the standpoint of the hunting reader we learn that the pack used to hunt hares and then carted deer before giving that up to hunt the wild deer which expanded out from Martindale Forest and that the relationship between the hounds and the deer particularly Lion and Mabel was rather special and cannot be dismissed merely in terms of predator and prey.
"There is no doubt that the subscribers to the pack were an exclusive and wealthy group, with a subscription in 1921 costing the same as 6 months wages for a head dairymaid but it it also true to say that the book captures the contributions made to the economy and the locality by these subscribers together with the interrelationships between the hunt and the local community.
"Overall, this book holds much to recommend it to all hunting folk or those with an interest in the social history of an area and I sincerely hope that similar books will be forthcoming relating to other disbanded packs before their history is lost to us all forever."
Reviewed by Wendy Fraser
"As Trevor Hughes reminds us in his foreword - 'If history teaches us anything it tells us who we are and how we got here. By recording events like this [Ron Black] is leaving a legacy for future generations to study, begin to understand and hopefully learn from'.
"Using old newspaper reports and long forgotten books, pamphlets and brochures this book vividly recalls meets, long runs, social events and the local characters, illustrated with photographs of the time. Well researched - an interesting read."
Reviewed by Tallpoppy
"A concise and informative account of a pack of hounds from 1880 to 1939 who operated in the South Lakes and were followed by the minor gentry of the area. Well put together and good value."
Reviewed by Blodwen
"As in the first review I quote Trevor Hughes 'the author is leaving behind a legacy for future generations to study, begin to understand and hopefully learn from'. Hopefully present and future students will be encouraged to read social and local history, as well as that of the kings and queens and wars and treaties of the past.
"It is noticeable in his introduction that the author has great respect for the hunters and the hunted.
"The first two chapters CJC takes us through about a century of hunting hare and deer in a pleasant easy style. Interesting to compare with the hunting on foot. There is mention of barbed wire and potholes which are still problems in my neck of the woods.
"The extracts are well chosen and researched. The author's links are interesting and helpful. I compared my wages in the early 60s with those of the hirelings in the 20s. I worked in a four star hotel during Augusts for £6 pounds a week plus a room (cupboard?) and wonderful food. Good wages but I think the percentage between workers and guests staying for the hunting and fishing around the glorious 12th hadn't altered much. The book is obviously a team effort which the author fully acknowledges. A pleasure to read."