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Something Unusual Part 3 Major Harold Charles Howard Taylor 1899 – 1987

This tale, written once again by James Barclay, concerns Major Harold Charles Howard Taylor 1899 – 1987, Farmer and Subscriber to the Essex and Suffolk

It was the final day of the 1986 /87 season, and our last before departing for the Fitzwilliam. My Joint Masters and I had made the decision to see if our neighbouring Masters at the Suffolk were up for a Joint Meet and sure enough they were. The venue was to be the picturesque village of Monks Eleigh which was on the border of the two Hunts. The plan was to spend half a day in each other’s Country with the more senior of the two of us, Tom Batterbee hunting the hounds. We had put together a pack of nine and a half couple from each pack and what a good job they made of producing such a memorable day.

My Father in Law Major Harold Taylor had died six weeks earlier. Having been born and brought up the Badsworth Country in South Yorkshire he had been a great supporter of the Essex and Suffolk for the last forty years. Unfortunately he farmed in an area which was not easily accessible during the shooting season and as a result hounds had hardly set foot on his farm for the last four seasons. This was somewhat exasperating for the Major and his daughter Lucy who I had been fortunate enough to marry the year before. However strange things were due to happen on this occasion which left us all somewhat numb and unable to explain why. Was it a coincidence or something far deeper?

The land in this part of Suffolk rides very heavy and this day was no exception. It was decided to go and draw Semer Wood first, a good covert on the Essex and Suffolk side of the border which adjoined a rather intensive shoot. Luckily enough it was a place which was left totally quiet throughout the shooting season thus giving our vulpine friends a little peace from the barrage of gunfire which took place most weeks from September till the end of January.

The joint packs had settled down well whilst trotting on from the Meet and were certainly ready for action as they went in to draw the almost impenetrable bramble bushes. After a while the deep voice of Essex and Suffolk Grocer could be heard clearly as he pushed a fox up from his warm bed. It wasn’t long before others joined in and the wood soon rang with their tremendous cry. After ten minutes or so, a resounding holloa came from the north eastern corner of the covert as our fox was see making his way across the plough. Our pilot, believe it or not, had left pointing his mask directly for Nedging Mill, the home of the Major and his family. On navigating our way across the River Brett, Tom and I caught up with hounds as they had checked in the garden. Casting on they soon picked up his line and were away across the farm through the Chalk pit and on the Hadleigh road, the hunt coming to an end just short of Naughton Green after a sharp 45 minutes and six miles as they ran.

After a long hack back into our draw it was decided to take hounds on the way and just run them through the small covert beside Bildeston Church where the Major’s Funeral service had taken place just a few weeks before. This was not a place where we would normally find because the bottom had nearly all gone. However,  on this occasion within seconds hounds were in and out on with a brace in front of them, and they were flying. Straight over the Bildeston road and again they were heading for the Major’s but this time at a pace which meant one had to really gallop to keep up with them. Firstly they swum the Bildeston Brook and then the River Brett and never looked like checking at either. We caught up with them in the farmyard having navigated some seriously difficult obstacles on the way and leaving a trail of destruction in our wake with riders experiencing serious duckings in both the River and the Bildeston Brook! Having circumnavigated the garden again this fox decided to take refuge in the Major’s pit, only a hundred yards from the house. The rest of the day was spent hunting in the Suffolk Country with numerous foxes on the move but there was to be no more of the excitement that we had witnessed earlier in the day.

James Barclay

Something Unusual? Part One

Something Unusual? Part Two The Badsworth

Something Unusual 4 Frank Dallyn Harbourer to the Devon and Somerset Staghounds


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