Coursing; Fox Hunting and Ploughing

The Slip - 163
The Slip - 163

Once the hare is some 80 yards in front of the dogs, the slipper - a trained official licensed by the NCC - lets slip the dogs.

Only two dogs course at one time, and an average course lasts 35-40 seconds. Hares can run at up to 40mph, so the sport is fast.

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The First Point - 164
The First Point - 164

A visit to any of the great Western Museums with collections from the Middle East or the museums in the region itself will quickly reveal evidence of Saluki-type hunting hounds alone or in conjunction with their handlers, decorating cylinder seals, pottery, carved reliefs, murals, mosaics and painted miniatures or as free-standing figurines and sculptures, which date back to at least 4,000 BC.

It is probable that in their early development from wolves such hounds played a purely practical role by extending the hunters' range of options in their pursuit of game for food. However later under the Mesopotamian and Ancient Egyptian civilisations, the Greek and Roma Empires and the Caliphate, it is clear from contemporary writings as well as art that the hunters used their hounds not only out of necessity to acquire food but also to enjoy the thrill of the chase.

The First Point - 164a
The First Point - 164a

The United Kingdom Parliament
Thursday 16 January 2003 - [Mr. George Stevenson in the Chair]
Hunting Bill
Mr. Nicholas Soames (Mid-Sussex): I speak in support of the amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray) and in support of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier). I stress very strongly that coursing, whether competitive or not, must be subject to the same properly formulated tests that are applied to other types of hunting if the legislation is to be consistent. Moreover, the principles of utility and cruelty or least suffering should be constructed in such a way that the legal approach to animal welfare is logical, consistent and universal. The Bill fails on every count.

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The Meet - 165
The Meet - 165

Fox Hunting
Information courtesy of the RSPCA
The Fox Hunt
The requirements of the hunt followers for a 'successful' hunt are foxes to pursue (but not so many that the hounds are distracted from keeping to a line) and a chase which is as long as possible.

The opening meet of the season is generally held early in November. To ensure a long chase, and to make certain that there are foxes to be found in the open immediately after the meet. 'Early stoppers' are employed to close up earths (and badger setts, in which foxes may try to take refuge) during the night before or early in the morning of a hunting day.

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The Meet - 165
The Meet - 165

Woven in pure silk
No credit

Full Cry - 166
Full Cry - 166

Credit:- WOVEN IN SILK BY THOMAS STEVENS, STEVENGRAPH WORKS,COVENTRY.

Fox hunting
Foxhunting has only existed for the last 250 years and was developed as entertainment for the aristocracy and landed gentry. Previously foxes were much persecuted as 'vermin' but not considered worthy of the 'chase' which hitherto had been restricted to deer, hares, boar and wolves. As the wolf and boar became extinct, and the forests and the deer herds declined, hunters sought a new quarry. It was found that by blocking up fox earths and badger setts, thus denying foxes a natural escape, a fox could run fast and far enough to provide a good chase for dogs and riders before it succumbed to exhaustion. It also became necessary for hunts to carry small terriers to evict any fox which managed to find an unblocked hole. If a fox refused to 'bolt' from its refuge it would remain under attack by the terriers until it could be dug out.

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The Death - 167
The Death - 167

No Credit

The kill
Eventually it becomes exhausted whereupon the dogs catch up, swarm over the fox and savage it to death. If a fox manages to find refuge in an open hole (termed 'unsporting' by hunters!) the huntsman calls for the 'terriermen' to enter their dogs into the hole in an attempt to either drive it out for further hunting or keep it under attack until it is dug out. The 'bolting' of foxes for further hunting was condemned as cruel by a Government enquiry in 1951 which recommended that the practice be abolished. (Ref: The Report of the Committee on Cruelty to Wild Animals, otherwise known as the Scott Henderson Report, named after the Chairman.) Hunting enthusiasts claim that the first dog to reach the fox gives it a 'nip to the back of the neck' which kills it instantly. This claim ignores the cruelty brought about by the deliberately prolonged chase. However, it is known that the 'neck-bite' is a method of killing more commonly used by large wild cats - some species of which hunt alone and require their prey to be immobilised by the breaking of the vertebrae. Canids (wolves, jackals, dogs etc,) that hunt in packs, tend to bring down their prey by a series of bites and tears to the quarry's sides and hind-quarters.

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God Speed the Plough - 168
God Speed the Plough - 168

Credit:-

WOVEN IN SILK BY THOMAS STEVENS, INVENTOR AND MANUFACTURER,COVENTRY AND LONDON, (REGISTERED)

GOD SPEED THE PLOW -- “God speed the plough, ‘a wish for success or prosperity,’ was originally a phrase in a 15th-century song sung by ploughmen on Plough Monday, the first Monday after Twelfth Day, which is the end of the Christmas holidays, when farm laborers returned to the plough. On this day ploughmen customarily went from door to door dressed in white and drawing a plough, soliciting ‘plough money’ to spend in celebration. “Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins” by Robert Hendrickson.

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God Speed the Plough - 168 small mount (Stevengraph Works credit)
God Speed the Plough - 168 small mount (Stevengraph Works credit)

Credit:-

WOVEN IN SILK BY THOMAS STEVENS, STEVENGRAPH WORKS,COVENTRY.

Andrew McRae. God Speed the Plough: The Representation of Agrarian England, 1500-1660. Andrew McRae begins his book on the values and practices of rural England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by discussing the plough, which was "claimed as an emblem of traditional structures of rural society, in a stream of complaint decrying the effects of depopulating enclosure. Equally, though, the plough could symbolize the expansive energies of a farmer improving his land" (1). Both plough and, especially, ploughman are recurring figures in McRae’s analysis; they become vehicles for charting the historical debates and developments that are the topic of McRae’s thorough and persuasive book. While the plough could emblematize either traditional practice or agrarian improvement, McRae tells the story of the ascendance of the latter at the expense of the former. That is, "moral economics" (land-based relations built on reciprocity and social obligation) were decisively supplanted in the seventeenth century by conceptions of agrarian improvement predicated upon a vision of land as exploitable resource. "The discourse of improvement . . . erected a powerful new set of values, which would underpin the consolidation of capitalism in both country and city. . . . [This discourse struck] at the very foundation of moral economics, confronting the doctrine of manorial stewardship with the logic of absolute property" (18). Or, at the level of the ploughman, "As the individualist farmer was metamorphosed from a covetous canker on the body politic into a godly man of thrift and industry, the meaning of agrarian England shifted accordingly from a site of manorial community and moral economy toward a modern landscape of capitalist enterprise" (7). On one level, then, God Speed the Plough constitutes a fresh contribution to the study of the transition from agrarian feudalism to agrarian capitalism; it charts the ideological (and to a lesser extent the material) developments both necessary to and produced by a nascent capitalism.

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God Speed the Plough - 168a (Stevengraph Works credit)
God Speed the Plough - 168a (Stevengraph Works credit)

Credit:-

WOVEN IN SILK BY THOMAS STEVENS, STEVENGRAPH WORKS,COVENTRY.



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