This April we are once again blogging along with the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Our team of one-place studiers will be sharing some of the treasures to be found for a one-place study, particularly around the theme of Visualisation, our Shared Endeavour for 2016.
Some may think this a rather peculiar topic in terms of place studies but for me, fox hunting is at the core of my place. Sound odd? I'll explain.
Tetcott has a long history with hunting. In fact, for over three hundred years... For many, hunting is a part of their lives, even to this day. The Western Morning News reported back in 2013 that Maurice Thomas, Joint Master of the South Tetcott Hunt from 1989 to 2000, had written up three hundred years of hunting in the village with his book which was launched in November 2013 by local MP Geoffrey Cox. The article stated that "over 300 years, right up to the present day in the wake of the ban, hunting has been an integral part of country life in this remote and far flung corner of the Westcountry." I can concur. My place – well, my two Devonshire places – are remote and far flung!
Fox hunting, according to David Hey's The Oxford Companion to Local and Family History, "did not become a popular organised sport until the 17th and 18th century, after the decline of deer hunting … strict rules of the organised fox hunt were made by Hugo Meynell … at a time when aristocratic and gentry families were beginning to finalise and organise packs of foxhounds".
My place is rarely 'in the news'… and images are few and far between. In fact, I have two. One, a large mounted picture of a statue presented to Vincent Pollexfen Calmady by his friends in recognition of his hospitality and of the sport he showed while hunting the Tetcott Country for 'so many years' and the other, is a magazine article (not dated with no publication details), entitled A Wet Day with the Tetcott Foxhounds.
Squire John Arscott began hunting the country, which straddles the Cornwall-Devon border, in the early 18 th century. Wikipedia makes reference to the fact that "the last of the Arscotts had been a keen hunter, and kennelled his pack of hounds at Tetcott. Later the sporting rights were acquired by Vincent Calmady [see above] who, in about 1872, formed a pack of otter-hounds. In 1879, he recommenced fox-hunting on the Tetcott country, and the current South Tetcott Hunt and Tetcott Hunt continue today."
Hunting has certainly been part of the Tetcott community for centuries and, despite The Hunting Act 2004, it continues to this day. In some ways, such activities would bring the community together. However, it was also a pastime which segregated communities as only the upper and middle classes could afford to participate.