Local Hunting Notes – The Warwickshire

Following the meet at Wroxton Abbey on Friday, the Warwickshire mixed pack found a fox in the Laurels. They raced him over the lawn, and with Wroxton village on the left went across the Wroxton Road going through Regnal Gorse to the Horley Vineyards where the pilot was lost after a run of half-an-hour. Horley Vineyards did not hold any foxes, but one ran in a small ring from Regnal Gorse until he got to ground. The pack then moved to Claydon Hill, and pursued a fox from there, leaving Balscote Mills on the right, Miller’s Osiers on the left, and right-handed over the Shutford Road. Then with Fleur de Lys on the left and Farmington Gorse on the right they continued past Gulliver’s Osiers, and with Tyne Hill Gorse on the left the hounds ran past Sibford Ferris, going right-hand down to Traitor’s Ford. There they bore to the right, running into the Heythrop country for some distance. Then turning to the left they ran back, leaving Hook Norton on the right until pursuit was stopped as they were pointing to Traitor’s Ford after a good run of two-and-a-half hours with a very good scent. The small field included Lord North (on wheels), the Misses Fitzgerald, A. J. Waldron, Gaskell and Hoskyns, Mrs Hargreaves, and Messrs Gibson, Walker, Gibbs, Page and others.

Harwood’s House was the Warwickshire fixture on Saturday. The frost had made the ground very treacherous. Major Lord Willoughby de Broke was in command, and the field included several members of the Warwickshire Yeomanry. Among those out were Mr R. Eminett Gaskell, Mr T. S. Chappell, Mr Barker, Mrs and Miss Buckmaster, Mr P. C. Puckle, Mr Phillips, Mr Warr and others. The pack found a fox at Chesterton Wood. They hunted him twice round the wood and across the Warwick to Banbury Road. They went up to Bromson hill and over Bromson Road, and after re-crossing the Warwick to Banbury Road proceeded to Chesterton Mill Pool, where they lost the pilot after a spin of twenty minutes. Finding again in Chesterton Mill Pool hounds ran past Mr Greenslade’s, and turning left-handed they bore over Brinker’s Hill, past Harbury Fields and down to the Great Western Railway line. They continued through the rear of Harbury, going on nearly to Ewe Field Coppice, but there scent failed after a chase of forty-five minutes. Checkley’s Brake proved to be a blank, but a fox discovered just beyond scuttled to ground at once in front of the pack. Hounds next invaded Verney’s Gorse without finding, but at Bishop’s Gorse a customer made a line past Westfield and Meadow Lane at Lighthorne, and baffled pursuit.

The Warwickshire bitch pack on Tuesday invaded Golden Cross, but without success. Next they found and killed near Blackwell Bushes after a good chase of thirty minutes. Returning to Golden Cross, hounds found again, and ran well for half-an-hour going into Ilmington Hills, but there they lost the line. Afterwards, Sir Grey Skipworth’s covert at Tredington proved to be blank, but hounds discovered another customer at Idlicote Brake. They raced round the hill, going on past the grove, and leaving the gorse on the left, ran through Idlicote Brake again. Then they left Old Dyke on the right, going past Compton Wynyates, but eventually lost their pilot between Epwell Warren and Shenington after a very nice spin of about an hour, and returned to the kennels without having tasted blood. Mr George Game was in command but it was a small field.

The Postmen and Christmas Boxes

Postmen are discussing among themselves the propriety of collecting Christmas boxes from the public this year, and there is much diversity of opinion. The matter is not so simple as it might first appear. The postmen claim that Christmas boxes are part of their entitlement of office, and the right to gather them in cannot be abolished without compensation. Should they forego the claim this year the men are afraid that, once the continuity is broken, it will be difficult to obtain as much in 1915 as they did in 1913. Thus they think it would be unwise to drop the custom. On the other hand, many of the regular postmen are at the front, and the public may not care to give to the temporary officers, and in any case, a good many people may find the existence of the war a good reason for discontinuing the gifts. Again the Christmas presents and Christmas cards this year will be much decreased, and there is a general idea that the Christmas gratuity is a recognition of the additional work put upon the postmen by this extra traffic. Christmas in any case is probably the time for postmen, the Postmaster General and the Treasury to decide on any remuneration as the public response is likely to be much reduced.

Iodine for the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry

Success of the Appeal

In our last week’s issue we appealed for £25 in order to supply each man of the 52nd the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, with a case of iodine for immediate application to any wound he might sustain. The appeal has been generously responded to, and we are glad to announce that, mainly owing to the liberal contribution received from the Banbury Steeplechase Committee, we have secured the amount asked for. We are therefore enabled to forward to the regiment, through Mrs Davies of the Manor House, Godmanstone, Dorchester, Dorset, the wife of the commanding officer, a sum which will represent a present from the town and neighbourhood of Banbury of a particularly valuable character. The subscribers include:

  • Banbury Steeplechase Committee £10, 0s. 0d.
  • Mrs Holbech, Farnborough £1. 0s. 0d.
  • Miss Prater, Farnborough £0. 2 s. 6d.

The Hunting Season

War’s Effect on the Fields

Hunting will be carried out during the present winter, but – as need hardly be said – the circumstances surrounding the sport will be of a totally different character from what is usual. Hounds will meet, and hunt foxes, and will have some following, but the killing of foxes will be the chief endeavour rather than the securing of good hunts. Hunts there will be, of course, for as the season advances it becomes each week more difficult to hold foxes up. The man who heads a fox will not get into trouble, however, as he would in normal times, and many followers will probably learn that to head the fox which has just left covert is not always a simple matter. Foxes vary greatly in the matter of determination, and whilst cubs are, as a rule, easily turned, there are many bold foxes who will make their point even if they have to pass through a crowd of horses, while others will jink to one side and make their original point from another spot. No doubt whenever and wherever it is possible foxes will be turned towards hounds, and no doubt many more will be dug out than is usually the case. In some hunts digging operations are very rarely resorted to, and the practice is not one which commends itself, except under special circumstances. it may, for example, be a matter of policy to kill a fox or foxes if possible, on certain ground, and in such a case a master who is not addicted to the practice in the usual way is fully justified in giving the order to dig. For that matter, a master is always within his rights when he digs out a run fox, but in the interests of his field no master will, at ordinary times, spend the best hours of the day in trying to get a fox out of a place which involves a long period of spade work. During the coming season even this may happen, for it is generally agreed that the head of foxes must be kept down at all costs. As for the followers of hounds, they will come out when they can, and do their best towards fulfilling the desires of the master, but their numbers will be greatly depleted. Many hunting men who are ex-soldiers have rejoined the forces, whilst hundreds of young farmers and sons of farmers are also serving. It will in effect be found that very few men of the right military age will be hunting, but in some districts it is, of course, possible that a few Territorial officers may be able to snatch a short half-day occasionally. Possibly ladies will form the larger portion of some of the fields, but, there will be absences of both men and women due to motives of economy. It is greatly to be hoped that the falling off in subscriptions will be kept to reasonable limits. Expenses at the various hunt establishments will doubtless be cut down as far as possible; fewer horses will be kept and fewer men to attend them. There will be a general decrease in the forage bills in consequence, and a great number of hunt servants, and a far greater number of hunting grooms have enlisted. But it must be remembered that  the conditions vary all over the kingdom, and there can be no hard and fast rule binding upon all the hunts in the same way. Some hunts are fairly rich, others exceedingly poor. Some, are well foxed; in others the supply does not equal the demand. In certain hunts the claims are promptly paid, and in some cases – we are told – will continue to be paid as usual. In other districts there is bound to be less money for poultry than usual, but followers must make up their minds to pay whatever is justly claimed, if it is found possible for them to do so. The great thing to remember is what hunting means to the country. It is due to hunting that light horses, other than thoroughbreds, hackneys of high action, and so forth, are now bred. If there was no market, at high prices, for all the best animals, fox hunting, light horse breeding would collapse, for the motor has caused the harness horse pure and simple to become almost non-existent, and practically everyone who puts a thoroughbred horse to a half-bred mare, with a view to future profit, does so in the hope he may have bred a valuable hunter.

Agriculturalists and the Production of Wheat

Basic Slag Altering the Face of the Country

Mr Howard Chatfield Clarke presided on Monday night at the Surveyors’ Institution over an ordinary general meeting called to discuss the question of the wheat supply. Mr Edwin Savill (member of the Council) read a paper on the subject. He said there was a general opinion that an increase in the area under wheat was desirable. The last few years showed an improvement in the financial conditions of agriculture, but this had not had the effect of increasing the wheat area, the reason being that the bad times had not yet been forgotten. Farmers did not expect a high price for their produce, but they would leave a fair margin to repay the capital and energy expended. The average farmer felt that the less he put into the land, the less he stood to lose, and therefore, instead of putting all his money and energy into a supreme effort to get all he could out of the land, he put in only just enough to ensure a safe but moderate return. The average price of wheat grown in England and Wales last year was 31s. 8d. per quarter. After giving detailed figures he calculated that the net profit on 100 acres would average with wheat at that price 28 s. per acre, per annum. If wheat were 38s. per quarter the profit would be increased to 37s. 6d. per acre, per annum. If farmers could be certain of receiving 38s. per quarter for their wheat they would feel justified in ploughing up a considerable area of the land at present producing less than the return of which it is capable. Much anxiety was naturally felt on the outbreak of war as to the stability of our food supply. The price of wheat rose in a few days from 34s. per quarter to 45s. per quarter. It speedily dropped again to 36s. from which price it had gradually risen to 40s. at the end of October. The Government had been asked to guarantee to farmers a minimum price of 35s. a quarter. It replied that it did not consider that necessary, but at the same time strongly advised farmers to grow wheat, as it was likely to prove a profitable crop. Why should not the Government do the same as they were about to do for the dyeing industry? He would venture to prophecy that in a few months our supplies would be short. He thought that the Government should fix the price at which wheat could be grown at a fair profit. Possibly 38s. per quarter would meet the case. Every farmer should be paid the difference between the average price for the year and the settled price of 38s. per quarter. Every farmer could then know that he could grow wheat without fear of loss, and that the more wheat they grew the more certain profit they would make. The cost of such a scheme to the Government would depend on the amount of guarantee, but it was doubtful whether it need be considerable. A steady market was almost of greater importance than a high one.

Mr Turnbull Brown said that whatever was done in this country the situation could only be saved for a few weeks. The whole question of wheat supply in time of war really came to this, that they had to trust the Navy. The scheme in the paper was a scheme of bounties. If we were to have protection in any form we must either have import duties or bounties. But he did not think we were going to get either yet.

Mr H. Trustham Eve said the cash wages in agriculture increased in 1913 over 1912 by £10,000 a week, and in 1912 over 1911 by £5,000 per week. Since 1911 agricultural wages had increased by three quarters of a million per annum. Basic slag was transforming the whole face of the country and was one of the reasons for not breaking up pasture land. The Government ought to buy a few weeks supply of wheat to keep in hand. The only way to make more profit was to cheapen the cost of production.

Mr A. Steele said that if the same effort had been put into the pastures of the South of England as into those of Leicestershire and the West Country they would be capable of producing double the net profit they now produced.

The Hon. F. G. Strutt said one of the advantages of ploughing up grass land would be an increase in the labour employed on the land. Any farm that was nearly all grass hardly paid well at all, while arable farms had paid him extraordinarily well. The only way for our land to be converted into arable land was to make the main crop, wheat, a profitable thing to grow.