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Historical Research :-

Gisburn History Society


Published by The Biographical Press, 12, Henrietta Street, W.C. 1910.


GISBURNE PARK, the seat of Lord Ribblesdale,is perhaps more historical, from a hunting point of view, than any place in the United Kingdom. On the dissolution of Whalley, the herds of wild cattle and beasts of chase betook themselves to the Honor of Clitheroe, and more especially to the Parks of Gisburn. Leland mentions that they arrived in Whalley, being transplanted from Blekeley into the Dean, or Abbot’s Park, at Whalley, “not long before my time,” and that their descendants, taking refuge finally in the Parks of Gisburn, still remain. These apparently included the last wolf, stags, roes,bubali (or wild cattle), “wild bores, bulles, falcons, bredde in times past in Blakeley.”

Gisburn, Clitheroe, Whalley, Poetfield,Garstang, Myerscroft, Lathom, and Preston were all well-known places, mentioned as hunting resorts and centres in the fourteen and fifteen centuries. Towards the latter part of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventheen centuries we find that regular packs were in existence, which were used for foxhunting, and also for hunting badger, otter, and hare. Amongst others, cira 1580 to 1617, was the King’s (James 1 ) pack, with Thomas Pott as Master and huntsman. For this office he received pay at the magnificent rate of four shillings per diem. He had as his understrappers “three yeomen prickers,” at two shillings per day each, and pay was allowed for “one groom,” at the rate of “12d per diem.” The pack consisted of “12 couple of dogges,” and their keep was allowed for at £50 per annum, whilst the total Hunt expenses reached £250 per annum.

The idea of starting the Ribblesdale Buckhounds Was perhaps, more or less, induced by the excellent sport given by some few carted stags supplied by Mr. Peebles, when a resident in that country, and hunted on bye-days by the Pendle Forest Harriers, about 10 years ago. The sporting runs then obtained created a desire for something a little longer and a trifle faster, perhaps, than that which the harriers afforded with their legitimate quarry. The country is an ideal one for staghunting, and it was realized that there were plenty of room for an other pack. After Mr Peebles left, and the hunting of the carted deer ceased, the feeling increased, culminating finally in a meeting held in October, 1906. Two packs of harriers at that time, as now, hunted the district, and it was necessary to consult those most concerned. Lord Ribblesdale, who presided over the meeting, invited all the landowners and Masters of packs in the district, tenant farmers, and others interested, to meet him at Gisburn, and there the question was thoroughly discussed. It was proposed that Mr. Ormrod and Lord Ribblesdale be Joint-Masters, his Lordship undertaking the diplomatic side and Mr. Ormrod the management and details of the Hunt. The latter promised to provide horses and hounds, and to carry the horn himself. Lord Ribblesdale’s contribution was the kennels, stabling, etc. The proposed country, which was very extensive, is roughly speaking, bounded by Settle, Skipton, Garstang, Preston, and Clitheroe, some twenty—five miles by fifteen.

Mr. Ormrod, who had turned down deer, chiefly black fallow and Japonese, from time to time on his own estate, proposed to transfer some of them into the new country, and, in addition, to purchase and place down some fresh blood in the district. Lord Ribb].esdale undertook to ascertain the general feeling amongst the small owners and tenants in the outlying districts. It was also suggested, as expenses would be somewhat heavy to start with, to announce that any voluntary subscriptions would be gratefully received.

The kindly influence of his Lordship led to his exertions being crowned with success, and general leave was obtained, with scarcely any demure, for the formation of the Hunt, which proceeded to develop very quickly under the most favourable auspices.

The same season Mr. Ormrod, kenne some twenty couples of Kerry beagles, commenced operations, and, year by year, he has provided ever-increasing sport over this grand country, which is free from wire and, to a large extent, from railways; with ever conceivable sort of fence and obstacle, including banks, open ditches, and stone walls. The field is composed of followers who “ride to hunt,” and with a large sprinkling of tenant farmers.

Mr.P.Ormrod Joint Master

MR. PETER ORMROD has from his youth devoted his whole energies to the pursuit of the Chase, owning and hunting both fox and staghounds. Making the breeding of hounds his special study, aided by a retentive memory and quick perception, and, moreover, a love for the hound itself, he has been able to put into practice the store of knowledge gathered from the different countries with which he has at various times been associated. His present pack, which he has established and maintains at his own expense, finding also horses, deer, and Hunt servants, consists now of about thirty couples of Kerry beagles, in kennels at Bolton-le--Bowland.

Wishing to obtain a type of hound a little better coupled, with more substance and better let down than the ordinary Kerry beagle, Mr. Ormrod experimented by crossing with the best type of English foxhound obtainable. By mating with a foxhound dog - Dolphin, a big, pure-bred hound from Mr. Gerard’s kennels, combining some of the best strains in England - he obtained, from his bitch Wowski, increase in size, compactness, bone, with allthe colouring and characteristics of the Kerry which has proved the predominating factor in type, but with rough sterns and hacks, the former carried exceptionally high. In Woldsman, one of the litter, he has produced the above characteristics, but has lost to some extent in quality. The remaining hounds of the same litter, although not quite so massive, are decidedly compact, showing a large amount of quality, well-sprung ribs, good necks and shoulders, bone carried well down, and shortened pasterns. On the reverse cross, between Kerry doghound, and foxhound bitch, the result is perhaps not quite as satisfactory, the type not so uniform in character. Mr. Ormrod now makes use of Belvoir sires only, the Music of the pack, with the depth of the bloodhound, has the additional sharpness of the foxhound. It is quite unique in tone, arousing all the sporting instincts when heard, with one grand burst, on striking the line, which gradually increases in volume as they race over hill and dale.

The bitches are nice, lively little hounds, with lots of quality, fairly compact, and very keen. The dog hounds stand about 25 inches, and the bitches about 22 inches. The latter apparently throw their progeny big, but with increasingly good necks and shoulders, bone, and quality. The pack, as a whole, are standing proof of the excellent results of the Master’s perseverance in long years of experimenting.

Mr. Ormrod’s seat is at Wyresdale Park, a fine mansion, standing on the estate of some 10,000 acres. A sportsman born and bred, he owns one of the largest fish hatchings in the United Kingdom, which he has developed at Wyresdale, on which game of every sort abound; in addition, he runs a herd of some hundred Shetland on the rugged sides of Harris Fell. His own hunting experience has been very varied. As a lad he hunted foot beagles, and then harriers, in Sussex. Later he kept a pack of black-and- tan harriers on his own estate. For a time he hunted carted deer from Wyresdale, moving his pack later to Barnstaple, North Devon, to gain experience amongst the wild deer on Exmoor. At this time he was also Master of the Barnstaple Harriers. On his return to Lancashire, Mr Ormrod hunted turned-out wild fallow deer. Later, he again took his pack to Exmoor, and became also Master of the Exmoor Foxhounds. He also held the Mastership of the Craven Foxhounds for one season.