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The Meynell Hunt

[Frederick Cotton]

The Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt are a prestigious pack of hounds that can be traced back to the 18th century.

The Meynell Hunt was written and composed by Frederick Cotton. and published by Reid Bros. in 1886. It was also printed in J.L. Randall: A History of the Meynell Hounds and Country—1780 to 1901, Volume II (1901), Chapter VII, and in Lady Birkett: Hunting Lays and Hunting Ways—An Anthology of the Chase (1924).

Muckram Wakes sang verses 3 and 6–9 of this poem as The Meynell Pack in 1976 on their eponymous Trailer album Muckram Wakes. Their sleeve notes commented:

The pack of foxhounds which is kennelled at Sudbury, in south-west Derbyshire was founded many years ago by a Leicestershire gentleman, Hugo Meynell, and is hunted throughout the south of the county. The popularity of the song, which gives a much broader picture of the hunt than do the many songs which seem to concentrate on names of local personalities or particular hounds, is perhaps shown by the fact that this particular set of words was collected by Frank Sutton in the Peak District, a long way from the Meynell's stamping ground. The tune used here is the version sung by Mr George Fradley, of Great Cubley, the next village to Sudbury.

Swan Arcade sang the same subset of verses as Hounds of the Meynell [though the album notes spell it Meynall] in 1986 on their Fellside album Diving for Pearls, and Keith Kendrick sang it on the BBC Radio 2 2006 Radio Ballad The Horn of the Hunter.

Lyrics

Frederick Cotton's The Meynell Hunt

Friends, your patience I crave while I tip you a stave,
And whisper a word in your ear;
For I sing of the sound of the horn and the hound,
Which the saddest of heart needs must cheer;
For I sing of the hounds of the Meynell; the world cannot boast such a kennel;
And a man must ride straight, if he'd not be too late
To see Reynard roll'd o'er by the Meynell.

Chorus (after each verse):
Then hurrah for the hounds of the Meynell;
The world cannot boast such a kennel;
And a man must ride straight, if he'd not be too late
To see Reynard roll'd o'er by the Meynell.

These good hounds in the chase to the best won't give place,
For of good ones they're surely the pick;
When the scent is breast high, swift as pigeons they fly,
When 'tis cold to the line close they stick;
For they can both find, hunt and kill, and the man who denies it knows nil.
If your mount is a hack, pray don't hunt with the pack,
Or get down you assuredly will.

'Tis the first of November, the opening day,
At Sudbury Coppice they've met;
There's a scent in the cover[t], the knowing ones say,
There's a fox for a fiver, I'll bet;
For it's Tallyho! forrard away! his line is for Potter's, I'll lay;
If you're game for a lark, there are pales in the park
Take a good lot of jumping, they say.

O'er the pastures beyond they are racing like mad,
As though they were tied to his brush;
Though the fences are blind, the real good uns don't mind,
For a cropper they care not a rush.
'Twixt the best friends 'tis war to the knife, each vows he'll be first in the strife,
And the man that is in it, will swear that each minute
Was worth all the rest of his life.

Now the good uns sit down, for I'll wager a crown
There'll be some wet jackets ere long;
From the brook they don't shrink, though it's up to the brink,
And the current runs deucedly strong.
Shake him up, catch him fast by the head, for it never shall truly be said,
That a Derbyshire man, when he's leading the van,
Of the biggest place ere had a dread.

Yonder's Potter's so snug, where we're sure of a jug
Of good beer and good bread and good cheese.
Throw the reins on his neck, for you've time, while we check,
To enjoy these good things at your ease.
For it's Tallyho! forrard away! a labourer's viewed him, they say.
Ere you reach Hilton Gorse, you'll know whether your horse
Can not only gallop, but stay.

“Moy oyes! e's a winder,” the labourer said,
“And 'e's gone past 'ere ten minutes quoite;
'Is tag it were whoite and 'is coot it were red;
Yo'll non ketch Bowd Reynolds to-noight.
Moy oyes! but yo' canna joomp theere, it's seven foot 'oigh very near;
There's a ditch at t'fur soide most tremenjously woide.
A's joomped it, boy goy, joomped it clear.”

Now the front ranks grow small, for full many's the fall
That their numbers has thinned since the find.
Some have bellows to mend, many pray for the end,
For they're getting most sadly behind.
But the customers sit down, and ride determined, whate'er may betide,
To be able to say of that glorious day,
I was there when that gallant fox died.

See, yonder he goes, you can see by the crows,
That are circling and wheeling above him.
Though the moment is nigh when this good fox must die,
Though we all want to kill him, we love him.
See the fox and the hounds in one field, but he'll fight to the death ere he yield.
Ah! hark to that yell, 'tis poor Reynard's death knell;
The fate of the rover is sealed.

Muckram Wakes sing The Meynell Pack

'Twas the first of November, the opening day,
And at Sudbury Coppice they met,
There’s a scent in the covert, the knowing ones say,
“There’s a fox for a fiver, I’ll bet”.
Then it’s Tally-ho! Forward away!
Their line is a Potter's, I'll lay;
If you’ve come for a lark, there's some pales in the park,
Take a great lot of jumping, they say.

Chorus (after each verse):
Sing hurrah for the hounds of the Meynell,
This world cannot boast such a kennel,
For a man must ride straight, if he’ll not be too late,
To see Reynolds roll'd o’er by the Meynell.

Yonder's Potter's so snug where we're sure of a jug
Of good beer, good bread, and good cheese.
Throw the reins round his neck, there is time, while we check,
To enjoy these good things at our ease.
Then it’s Tally-ho! Forward away!
A labourer's viewed him, they say.
When you reach Hilton Gorse, you'll know whether your horse
Can not only gallop, but stay.

“Oh me eyes, he’s a winder,” yon labouring lad said,
“And he’s been past ‘ere ten minutes quite,
His tag it were white and his coat it were red,
Why you’ll non catch Bold Reynolds tonight.
Ahoy high lad, you monna jump there,
It’s seven feet high very near.
There’s a ditch at t'far side, most tremendously wide,
But he's jumped it, by guy, jumped it clear.”

Now the footpaths grow small, and there's many a fall
And the number has thinned since the find.
And this great host of men, they pray for the end,
For they're getting most sadly behind.
But the motto is sit down and ride
Expecting whate'er might betide
To be able to say, on that glorious day,
I was there when that gallant fox died.

See, yonder he goes, I can tell by the crows
That are circling and wheeling above him
That the time is now nigh when this good fox must die
But we don't want to kill him, we love him.
See the fox and the hounds in one field.
He'll fight to the death ere he'll yield.
Oh hark tis the yell of brave Reynolds' death knell,
And the fate of the rover is sealed.